Becoming a freelancer allows you to set your own schedule, but it comes at the cost of finding clients. Competing for new customers and developing exciting products can pose a challenge for entrepreneurs who aren’t successful at drawing eyes to their business. With a few tweaks and some helpful software, you can start attracting high-paying clients quickly and easily.

Be Professional: Sign a Contract

Contracts are a legally-binding written document that outlines the business relationship between the client and freelancer. You’ll want to draft one for every client to avoid misunderstandings down the line. Ultimately, a contract minimizes risk for the freelancer and client. Using this legal document is a mark of professionalism and should be considered a red flag if a client isn’t interested in working with one. While a lawyer can create a legally-binding document, you can save time and money by using and filling out Bonsai’s freelance contract template.

Use Referral Marketing and Testimonials

Referrals are the best form of freelance client acquisition because they establish a relationship of ease and trust before the first meeting. Getting work from an existing client is much easier than finding a new one and usually comes with the same benefits as working with the client that gave the referral. Since referral clients trust you more, they are more likely to reduce the onboarding process and give you more work. Referral tools used in referral marketing software can help you spread the word about your company and increase the rate of repeat clients.

Create a Website and Portfolio

As a new or veteran freelancer, you’ve probably noticed that clients don’t really care about your education or credentials as long as you have a portfolio filled with incredible samples. Your website acts as a central hub for your portfolio, social media presence, and case studies, so it’s absolutely necessary that you have a professional, great-looking homepage. Include videos, photos, and links to your achievements and testimonials for your clients to review. The more unique and varied portfolio pieces you have on your websites, the sooner you’ll find work.

Define Your UVP

Your unique value proposition (UVP) is integral to finding clients that want your services and are willing to pay handsomely for them. Defining what makes you unique will also help you stand out from the competition. For example, freelancers are a dime a dozen, but niche copywriters working with law firms and have knowledge about affiliate marketing are rare and in-demand. A simple change in language can make you look more qualified and interesting. Place your UVP on your website, portfolio, and social media pages, so it’s the first thing your clients see.

Build Connections Through Networking Events

If you didn’t prioritize building connections with fellow entrepreneurs in the past, now’s the time to start. Networking events can give you the opportunity to find and speak with people in your industry that may need your services. Meet-ups may not feel like a business conversation, but you could attract potential customers through peer-run events. Something as simple as saying “I’m a freelancer” can pique the interest of other start-ups. Even if you don’t manage to find clients, you can still learn about your target audience by connecting with people and socializing.

Give Freelance Job Sites a Try

Freelancer job websites don’t have the best reputation. They’re known for paying freelancers low rates for high-quality work with a fast turn-over time. However, it isn’t impossible to find great clients who stumbled upon these websites hoping to find skilled freelancers. An experienced freelancer won’t have to go on job sites, but a newbie may need to take low-paying work to build a reputation. Upwork, People Per Hour, and Freelancer can be helpful for people who don’t have a portfolio and need practice, fresh samples, or more clout in their industry.