How to land your first client as a freelancer

Toluwani Omotesho


Beginners in the freelancing world often face several challenges, including multiple rejections, unstable income, and the risk of burnout. However, these issues are secondary to the one obstacle every freelancer must overcome: landing their first client.

Getting your first freelance client can be an intimidating and discouraging experience, but we’re here to help. In this blog post, we’ll give you tips to stand out and land your first gig successfully!

Six strategies to help you land your first client

Identify your niche

Identifying your niche and target market is crucial to landing your first client and gig. By researching your market and understanding the most pressing needs and issues, you can identify opportunities and tailor your services accordingly. This approach makes it easier for you to attract and connect with potential clients.

Create a strong portfolio and resume:

Your portfolio is your first opportunity to impress potential clients, so you must make it as compelling as possible. It should be able to showcase your skills, best work, experience and range. Some key things to remember  when creating your portfolio include:

  • Choose the right platform: Make sure you’re building your portfolio on the platform that best demonstrates your skills. For instance, GitHib is the standard portfolio website for developers, while many designers use Behance or Dribble.
  • Show your best work: don’t fall into the temptation of displaying everything you’ve worked on. Instead, highlight at least 3-5 of your best and most recent work that shows your expertise and range.
  • Keep it simple: ensure your portfolio is easy to navigate, engaging and visually appealing. A polished portfolio builds credibility and trust, helping you land your first gig.
  • Use client testimonials: adding reviews and testimonials from former clients, managers, or mentors makes it easier for potential clients to trust your work and brand.

Use freelancing platforms:

Freelancing platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, Toptal, and Freelancer are great ways to get clients and build your job experience. You must be particular about creating your profile, emphasising your skills and expertise. You should also be open to taking on smaller projects and gradually working your way up.

Also read: The ultimate guide to choosing the best freelancing platform in 2024

Cold pitch:

Beyond applying for jobs on job sites and freelancing marketplaces, another way to get that first gig is to reach out to a potential client directly. Cold pitching is a way to cut through the competition and stand out from the crowd. Some pointers to help you with your pitch include:

  • Research the client: You must do your homework by learning about the client before reaching out to them. This way, you’ll be able to show that you’re knowledgeable about their business and that you care about providing value.
  • Personalise your pitch: Make sure your email or proposal isn’t generic but tailored to the potential client you’re reaching out to. Mention their name, company, specific pain points, and how you can help them.
  • Keep it short and sweet: They are always better short for cold pitches. Go straight to the point about who you are and what you offer.
  • Stay professional: Maintain a professional tone when representing yourself and your brand. Avoid using overly complex language, and be friendly and respectful.
  • Follow-up: Don’t get discouraged if you receive a response; sometimes, a polite reminder can make a difference. You can send a follow-up after a week or two.

Take advantage of social media:

Did you know that about 37% of freelancers get gigs through social media? Social media is a great platform to show your skills, grow your professional network and connect with potential clients.

You can build credibility and visibility by actively engaging with content and participating in niche conversations. Doing this can lead to job recommendations and referrals, helping you land your first client.

Also read: 5 hacks to attract clients on LinkedIn

Be patient:

Building a successful freelance career takes time and hard work. You have to be persistent, i.e. putting in work every day to find clients, improve your skills, and build your portfolio. Also, set clear goals to track your progress and celebrate your wins no matter how small you think they are.

Wrapping up

Landing your first client can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. As long as you stay persistent and not afraid to step out of your comfort zone for opportunities, you’ll secure your first client sooner or later. For more tips to help you navigate your freelance journey, subscribe to our newsletter here.

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