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6 Reasons Why You Can’t Find New Freelance Clients (With Solutions)

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Being a freelancer comes with all sorts of challenges, and one of those is to find and retain clients.

Perhaps you have already realized this if you’ve recently begun freelancing. Here are six reasons you can’t find new freelance work and solutions you can try.

1. You Don’t Have a Good Portfolio

Your portfolio is the first and perhaps the most powerful marketing tool that you have in your arsenal as a freelancer. Prospective clients use it to judge your competence, style, work ethic, and caliber. Without a good portfolio, there is no evidence that you are as capable and reliable as you claim to be.

Solution:

If you’re a newbie freelancer and haven’t had enough exposure yet, you can still create a portfolio using your relevant college projects, personal projects, volunteer work, etc. You could also create some samples of your work to show prospective clients of your potential.

Related: Things Clients Look for When Hiring Freelancers

2. Your Prices Are Incompatible

An illustration of someone paying money to the beneficiary

It’s easy to assume that the reason you’re not getting any clients or projects is that you’re charging too much. And while that may be true at times, pricing is not always that simple. Alongside affordability, pricing incompatibility also results from a misfit between your services and a prospect’s needs.

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Simply put, your services might be great and reasonably priced, but does the client even need them to achieve their goals? How necessary are your contributions to the success of the project? This confusion stops prospective clients from hiring you.

Solution:

To bridge this gap, you must first establish what are the problems or desired outcomes that a client is looking to address by hiring a freelancer like you. The idea here is to make them see how exactly their investment in your services will earn them a good return.

Related: How to Raise Your Prices as a Freelancer Without Losing Clients

3. Your Industry Is Doing Poorly

burning hundred dollar bills

Sometimes, the reason you’re not getting clients is not about them or about you, but about the industry you work in as a whole. In certain economic trends, some industries tend to do poorly while others tend to boom. For instance, in 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel industry took a big hit but pharma and e-commerce naturally performed better.

Solution:

The smart thing to do in such a case is to find clients in those industries that are currently winning. Stop looking for business opportunities in places where there is none. Companies that are simply trying to survive are less likely to give you business than the ones that are growing and in need of more manpower.

Understand where the money is in the economy right now and steer your business in that direction. After all, flexibility is one of the key benefits of freelancing over employment. There’s no reason to not use that benefit to save your business from a bad economic trend.

Related: What Is the Gig Economy and What Is a Gig Worker?

4. You’re Only Searching Content Mills

Image shows a woman drinking from a white mug and sitting on a couch with her laptop

There’s a good chance you’ve already tried marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr. While these platforms are big, they are also highly competitive—making it difficult to establish your authority as a professional in your field.

Oftentimes, the only way you can get a project in these marketplaces is if you provide your services for the lowest price out of all the other bidders. This might work for some people but not for you. Besides, always charging the lowest price you possibly can is not a sustainable business strategy for long-term growth.

Solution:

Aside from continuing your search on these platforms, you can also do the following:

  • Apply to freelance jobs on job portals like Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor, etc.
  • Ask within your network if a relevant prospect needs your services.
  • Reach out to companies that you want to work for via cold email or social media.
  • Connect with seasoned freelancers and offer to undertake some of their projects.
  • Ask your existing clients (if any) to refer you to their connections.


Related: Tips You Can Use to Get More Clients as a Freelancer

5. You Don’t Have Testimonials

A visual showing many clients giving stars to freelancer

Hiring a freelancer over an employee is much riskier for companies because freelancers are fundamentally more anonymous in nature. To offset this risk, clients rely on your testimonials as a form of social proof. The same way we check Amazon reviews to judge a product’s quality, a prospective client checks testimonials to verify your credibility.

Solution:

Request your previous clients to write recommendations for you on LinkedIn. If you haven’t worked for any freelance clients yet, you can also use the recommendation letter you might’ve received from an employer at your day job. A healthy set of at least three recommendations is usually a good start.

Related: How to Ask for Recommendations on LinkedIn

6. You Don’t Do Follow-Ups

Email Newsletter

After a lengthy conversation with a client, when they tell you “we’ll call you back and let you know” (but then never do), it’s your job to follow up on that story. The same way you apply to many freelance jobs at the same time, the client also screens multiple freelancers like you.

Solution:

Send an email to the prospect asking for confirmation about their decision, ideally within three days after the first contact. In most cases, they may either have understandably forgotten to update you or were never interested in working with you in the first place. Either way, it’s better to give them the benefit of the doubt and follow up proactively than to endlessly wait for a reply.

Learn How to Find Freelance Clients

It’s easy to get discouraged when you can’t seem to find any new clients as a newbie freelancer, especially since everyone seems to be raving about self-employment lately. Although getting new clients does involve a bit of luck, there are many things you can do now to help yourself.

Use all the tools that are available to you, not just the ones that are the most convenient. Cold email desirable companies, call your connections and ask for help, improve your portfolio, gather referrals, and always follow up on new leads.


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