Starting a new business is always a precarious time, leaving the security of paid employment and being solely responsible for generating an income for yourself. One thing a freelancer or contractor needs to become a success is a good client base that will offer regular and continuous work.
Just how do you go about building a client base? The first place to look for new clients is within your existing networks. These could be people you know through previous employments and can include not only former customers and clients but also colleagues and bosses. Social media is a great way to stay in touch with such people and also connect with new people, who may either add value to your business as a fellow contractor, or who may one day need your services.
You should also use social media platforms to help establish your expert credentials. Few people will take a chance on a newcomer to a field unless they can show that they know what they are talking about, so join relevant business groups on social media, join in with conversations, and write informative articles. The business world is full of freelancers or contractors, so it can be helpful to position yourself as a niche provider to stand out from the crowd. This means establishing what your unique selling point (USP) is and highlighting this.
One thing you should not consider doing without is a web presence. This mainly means a business website, but it can also mean something simpler, such as a blog. Use your website to display a portfolio of completed work, or if you are just starting out, use mock-ups to show what you are capable of. Always keep search engine optimization (SEO) in mind when writing the copy for your web presence, including keywords that relate strongly to your business.
Acquiring and retaining clients should not be your only focus in the early months and years of your new business. It is equally important that you maintain records, such as the business’s accounts, to ensure that all your hard work is not ruined by a forgotten tax bill. It can be helpful for a freelancer or contractor to outsource this kind of necessary administration to an umbrella company, which will handle it all, on time and professionally. The company may also be able to help with your financial planning for the future, thereby working towards the continued success of your business.
Once you have some satisfied clients, you should find that others follow, directed to you by word of mouth recommendations. To this end, always email a client at the end of a successful project and ask for a testimonial for inclusion on your website or for a review that can be posted online.
Starting out as a freelancer offers plenty of freedom, but it also comes with heavy responsibility. Continually build your network and always deliver great projects to ensure you enjoy a steady stream of happy clients.