7 Steps to Crack the Code and Land Great Clients

June 13, 2024
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Let's face it, finding clients can sometimes feel like trying to catch a greased pig at a county fair. In case you aren’t sure what that feels like, it’s messy, frustrating, and you might end up covered in mud (and other things).

But what if I told you there's a way to attract high-quality clients without resorting to spammy cold emails or doing the LinkedIn equivalent of standing by their door with a “Will Work for Cheap” sign?

Buckle up, buttercup. We're about to embark on a seven-part journey to transform your client acquisition from a desperate scramble to a smooth, “Oh, you want to work with me? Let me check my schedule” kind of vibe.

1. Know Thyself (And Thy Ideal Client)

Before you start chasing clients, take a moment to look in the mirror. No, not to fix your hair (though that couldn't hurt). I'm talking about really understanding what you bring to the table.

What's your superpower? What kind of work makes you want to leap out of bed in the morning?

Once you've got that figured out, it's time to play matchmaker. Who do you want to do that works for? I’m talking about your dream client. What industry are they in? What problems keep them up at night that you can solve?

I have a writing buddy who’s superpower is turning dense, technical jargon into easy-to-understand content. Her ideal clients? Tech startups who needed help explaining their products to non-techie customers. By narrowing her focus, she was able to position herself as the go-to expert in her niche.

2. Build a Portfolio That Tells a Story

Your portfolio isn't just a collection of your best work. It's your silent salesperson. It should tell a story about who you are, what you do, and most importantly, how you solve problems for your clients.

Don't just show the final product. Share the journey. What was the challenge? How did you approach it? What were the results?

And here's a little secret: if you're just starting out and don't have a ton of client work to showcase, create some! Pick a company you'd love to work with and do a mock project for them. It shows initiative and gives potential clients a taste of what you can do for them.

One of my coaching clients a few years ago was a budding UX designer who hadn’t worked with many clients in the niche he wanted to break into. He created a case study redesigning the checkout process for a popular e-commerce site. In the case study, he detailed his research, sketches, and final designs, along with hypothetical results.

That imaginary project landed him his first real client who was impressed by his problem-solving approach.

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3. Network Like You're Hosting a Dinner Party

Networking doesn't have to feel like you're a used car salesman (no offense meant if you sell cars). Think of it more like hosting a dinner party. Your job isn't to sell to everyone you meet, but to make connections, have interesting conversations, and maybe share a few laughs.

Join professional groups in your niche, attend industry events, or even start your own meetup.

I once joined a monthly “Creative Coffeehouse” meetup in a nearby city. It was a hub for local creatives to share ideas and collaborate. It helped me build a network of potential clients, collaborators, and friends who referred work my way.

The goal is to build relationships, not to hand out business cards like they're going out of style (spoiler alert: they already have).

4. Leverage the Power of Social Proof

In the words of the great philosopher DJ Khaled, “Another one.” (Don’t tell me you aren’t always waiting for him to say that in his songs.) In this case, we're not talking about hit songs, but testimonials and case studies.

Nothing convinces potential clients to work with you better than a happy client telling them they should. Remember, don't just settle for a generic “John was great to work with” quote. Get specific. You might even give your clients a template. You can also ask clients to share the tangible results of your work, such as numbers, percentages, and before-and-after scenarios.

For my ghostwriting, I can’t share most of my best work. But I can create detailed (anonymous) case studies for each of my clients showing the exact strategies I used and some of the details of the project. These case studies became one of my most powerful sales tools, often convincing potential clients before they even hopped on a call with me.

5. Create Content That Showcases Your Expertise

Remember how your English teacher always said, “Show, don't tell”? Well, they were onto something.

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Instead of just claiming you're an expert, prove it by creating valuable content. Start a blog, launch a podcast, or create video tutorials. Share your knowledge freely and generously.

This approach accomplishes two things: it positions you as an authority in your field, and it gives potential clients a taste of what it's like to work with you.

6. Master the Art of the Warm Pitch

Cold pitching is about as pleasant as a root canal. For both parties. Instead, focus on warm pitching by reaching out to people you've already connected with in some way.

Maybe you've interacted with them on social media, met them at an event, or have a mutual connection. Use those interactions as a way to start a conversation, not to immediately pitch your services.

A designer friend of mine noticed a company she admired was sharing a lot of content about a new product launch. She reached out to the marketing manager on LinkedIn, complimenting their strategy and shared an article she'd written on a related topic. That opened up a conversation that eventually led to a freelance gig and an ongoing relationship.

7. Offer a Unique Service Package

Instead of being a generalist, consider creating a signature service or package that sets you apart. This could be a unique combination of services, a specialized process, or a guaranteed outcome.

This approach not only makes you stand out but also makes it easier for clients to understand exactly what they're getting when they work with you.

One social media manager I’m connected with on LinkedIn created a “60-Day Social Media Makeover” package. It included a comprehensive audit, strategy development, content creation, and two months of management. His clear, results-focused offer was a hit with small businesses who wanted a complete solution rather than piecemeal services.

Be Human

At the end of the day, clients aren't just buying your skills—they're investing in your partnership. Your personality, your unique perspective, and your way of solving problems are of value to them.

Don't be afraid to let your personality shine through in your marketing, your proposals, and your client interactions. Be professional, of course, but also be authentically you.

The clients who resonate with the real you are the ones you'll enjoy working with the most. And isn't that the whole point of running a freelancing business anyway?

So there you have it. A straightforward, seven-step roadmap to finding and securing those dream clients. It's not about trick shots or secret handshakes. It's about knowing your worth, showcasing your expertise, and building genuine relationships. You’ve got this!


  • Treasa Edmond

    With 30 years in the workforce, 15 of those running her own freelance writer and content strategy business, Treasa has worked with all kinds of clients. It took her years to break out of an employee mindset so she could become the boss of her business. Now she's sharing her proven client management strategy and communication process so you can become the boss of your business today!