How do freelancers and digital nomads manage to find new clients?

Leggi in italiano 

Let’s get back to digital nomadism and freelance life, because I know it’s a topic you all really care about. Another reason is that many Instagram followers recently asked me for details about this quite important aspect of any freelancer’s life.

Of course, the digital nomad life that you see mainly on Instagram looks quite beautiful (and it actually is), yet many drawbacks aren’t that visible.

And above all, it’s hard to tell in a few pictures about the delicate matters related to it, like finding new customers, medium-long term partnerships and, in short, profits.

Before telling you what I did and what many others do, it’s important to point out that jobs are different from each other and I will never grow tired of saying that Freelance and Digital Nomad are both adjectives that must follow a noun suggesting a profession.
That is freelance translator, freelance graphic designer as well as freelance blogger / journalist / photographer / interior designer.
Digital nomadism is a further logistic and life choice, but it’s not the job.

Let’s now see how more or less all self-employed workers on a remote or variable workstation can find new customers, along with some cross-cutting advices for all types of professions.

1 – Down the street, as in the past

ufficio office freelance and digital nomad

Let’s be honest, being a freelancer with the advantage (let’s call it this way) of working at home, does not mean having the right to be locked at home 12 hours a day, especially because the word nomad wouldn’t make sense otherwise.
Customers have to be searched and (eventually) found online, but the majority of new contacts are found face-to-face, sometimes even just by drinking a beer with friends, when your friend’s cousin might need your services.
Those who think that a freelancer is never at the office are wrong!
It’s actually as if the freelancer lived in a glass case all the time, that is the workstation where all tasks are completed, despite all the chitchat.
It’s up to you to decide whether it is a good or a bad thing, or if it’s just the way it is and you gotta live with it.
The fact is that if you become a digital nomad, the people you meet have to remember your wonderful eyes, one of your whims and the job you do all the time.
Therefore, the first way to find customers is by going out, meeting new people, talking about yourself and your job… No complaints! Energy and positive attitude are two unavoidable requirements!
The world is already full of sadness and sorrows, Facebook is the heart of the daily controversy and everyone has to mind its own business. Don’t put forth your problems all the time!
Before your job or way of working, your work skills are actually your business card.
(well yes, the business card. Always take it with you, please).
Read also “Personal branding, how to promote yourself in interpersonal relationships”

2 – Coworking spaces

ufficio freelance coworking www.sabrinabarbante.com

Let’s go back to the need of a workplace that, even if not a permanent one, exists for everybody, even for digital nomads.
Co-working spaces are locations where this need can turn into a valuable resource, by helping you find new contacts that will eventually become customers or bring new ones.
People who don’t have a permanent office use these locations to rent a workstation with Internet and (generally) a printer, as well as other available tools.
These places have become so nice by now that even posted workers use them. They are often nice locations with an attractive design, promoting interesting initiatives and some of them also have special arrangements with nearby bars and restaurants to grant co-workers special discounts.
Look for the closest co-working space and, when possible, try to visit them even when you’re travelling.
Small confession: I’ve found at least two of my permanent customers in coworking spaces and by attending their events. If it has worked for me, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be ok for you too.

3 – Conferences, events and web events

come trovare clienti alle conferenze - freelance - www.sabrinabarbante.com

Keep track of the events related (even indirectly) to your work.
Are there conferences related to your business field? Any B2B fair and exhibition? Seminars and even web-events?
Try to attend these events anytime possible.
I know, there’s a price to pay, because 9 times out of 10 a participation fee is required to take part in this kind of events; oftentimes, it isn’t cheap either, yet it’s a cost (investment) you need to budget for as soon as possible.
Is there a fair in Mantova dedicated to your area of interest? Take the chance to combine a visit to the town with the attendance at the fair (welcome to the world of Digital Nomads, people who don’t just work by travelling but travel due to their work).
Besides, there are ways to get a free entry through special invitations, or to get discounts by registering to the event months before its scheduled date.
Look for the events related to your business field or similar on the Internet and start to schedule your participation in these exhibitions right now.
If one of your acquaintances or social contact is among the speakers or organizers, try sending a private message to ask for an invitation. You don’t have to feel pushy, it’s actually a custom and that’s the way it is; besides, speakers are often allowed to invite a set number of people.
Besides the chance to find potential new customers or collaborations, the events (more than the fairs) are also useful to find enthusiasm and interesting people who “speak your language” and are interested in what you have to say, which is vital for motivation (that a digital nomad must constantly look after).

4 – Personal branding and social networks

 

I haven’t left this entry at the end just by chance. Social networks come after all the rest, as far as finding new customers is concerned.
It would be necessary to write another post exclusively dedicated to this topic and I promise I will do it very soon. As for now, I provide answers to some simple questions that can help you make some helpful observations.
Is it really useful to have an account on all social networks?
Good news of the day: no, you don’t need to have them all.
On the contrary, being everywhere when it’s not necessary and without knowing how to correctly manage every social can even be dangerous.
To start with, you gotta be where your potential customers are and where they look for your expertise.
I advise you to set up an account on Linkedin, update your résumé on this social and spend at least one hour a week on it, among interactions and the search for new contacts.
Somebody might tell you that you definitely need to have a facebook page or a company profile on Instagram if you run a business.
I don’t completely agree with that.
As we were saying, your customers may not necessarily have an account on this social and use it for work reasons.
It’s important to know how to manage your page and make it clear. Don’t write too much content nor too little… there exists a profession expressly dedicated to social networks (social media strategist / manager) and it’s there for a reason. In some cases, it’s better to manage your private profile by steering it towards your work, besides your life (in small doses).
Write down all your information, Internet site and contact details in the description field or the biography in the case of Instagram.
Use a cover picture that refers to your job and includes your information.
Don’t publish pictures the way a teenager hit by a self-destructive crisis would do. Always use the filter of common sense.

5 – Lastly, or rather, first of all: work to the best of your ability

Try to work well. I don’t mean you can’t make mistakes, but the point is having and sticking to a strong work ethic.
Always ask yourself if your customers like working with you and why. For your punctuality? For your accuracy and politeness? Because you are able to bring cheerfulness and foster team spirit? Because you like learning? A combination of all these things?
A satisfied customer is the best way to have new customers, even for Digital Nomads.
What about you? How can you find new partners and collaborations?

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29 pensieri riguardo “How do freelancers and digital nomads manage to find new clients?

  • novembre 8, 2017 in 7:40 pm
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    I find a lot of the brands I’ve worked with have been found through social media or conferences. I think pitching really helps bring in new work as well. It is very much about reaching out and networking when it comes to freelancing.

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  • novembre 8, 2017 in 9:13 pm
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    Networking, networking and networking. In real life, in digital life… but also through friends’ recommendations (bless them!). The only thing I find tiring is that any “normal” conversation can turn in a “business” one. But well, goes with freelancins 🙂

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  • novembre 8, 2017 in 9:14 pm
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    This is a very honest and smart post. Since my day job is at the journalists’ federation I can relate to many things that you’ve written – like the co-working, the permanent search for customers etc. It’s a tough thing to do – especially since there is so much…I wouldn’t even call it competition, let’s say ‘other choices’. Keep up the good work!

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    • novembre 9, 2017 in 3:17 pm
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      What I’ve learned is that even a competitor, if you give hm/her a good impression, can become a resource to have new clients 🙂

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  • novembre 8, 2017 in 9:21 pm
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    Oh this is so useful. As a freelancer I am struggling to know where to build up my client base so this has given me some new ideas thank you!

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  • novembre 8, 2017 in 11:59 pm
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    This is a good read. I totally agree with #4! Always use the filter of common sense. As I grow older, I believe that less is more. I now think before I upload anything in social media. I often ask myself, what will my clients think if they see this?

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  • novembre 9, 2017 in 3:08 am
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    I can really relate to your post. I’ve worked from home the past ten years and have been a hobby blogger for about five. There’s nothing like meeting someone face to face. You never know where those encounters will take you. Even if they don’t need your services that day, if you left a good impression, they will remember you when to do. x

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  • novembre 9, 2017 in 5:11 pm
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    I find this post very relatable. It is so important to work hard and to your best ability because you never know where one opportunity can lead you.

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  • novembre 9, 2017 in 5:45 pm
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    I used to think freelancers had it easy being able to work from home. But it’s actually the most stressful because they don’t have a guaranteed income and usually have to market themselves.

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  • novembre 9, 2017 in 11:03 pm
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    Being on every single social media platform is important I think only from a backlink perspective. Personally, I think it’s really important as a digital nomad or online entrepreneur is that you have not only recognize as you pointed out that you have to go where your clients are but also what works best for your personality. There are some social platforms people say are great that I just hate. You have enjoy what you do in order to do really well at it.

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    • novembre 10, 2017 in 7:37 am
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      I think you are right, but it depends on how eager you are to find new clients: I’m not a Facebook fan, but 90% of my typical clients are active users. Results: I must learn to like it and use it properly 🙂

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  • novembre 10, 2017 in 6:48 am
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    All points are so true! And I agree with you about “always ask yourself if your customers like working with you and why” It’s a bit like analyze our work using the perspective of our customers.

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    • novembre 10, 2017 in 7:35 am
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      yes, maybe the hardest part because we all think we are the best of the worse (depending on personalities), while we all must be as objective as possibile

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  • novembre 10, 2017 in 7:18 am
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    It’s a very hard life the one of a freelancer in my opinion. I couldn’t do it I need safety in knowing there is a paycheck each month.

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  • novembre 10, 2017 in 10:32 am
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    Brilliant tips! I think networking events are massively underrated because some freelancers are scared of putting themselves out there. Point five is so important because most of the freelancers I know are successful purely based on referrals and client recommendations.

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    • novembre 11, 2017 in 6:44 pm
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      Clients recommendations were very important for me and my job! Events, conferences and meeting are complicated mainly because they can be very costly sometimes 🙁

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  • novembre 10, 2017 in 12:39 pm
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    Next to blogging, I’m also working as an independent (so no brand or shop related) makeup artist. My makeup clients are usually finding me through social media (google search) or recommendations from ppl I’ve worked with (previous clients or photographers etc.). I think if you do what you do with all your heart and you do it great, you will gain a “name” and it will help you find new clients easier. I also like big industry exhibitions (theres a lot of beauty related around Europe so I’m lucky for that).

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  • novembre 11, 2017 in 1:34 am
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    I love the idea of coworking space and want to help make that happen more as a free lancer and blogger. Thanks for the inspiration to go in that direction more.

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  • novembre 14, 2017 in 8:03 pm
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    Having been on both sides of the fence, I’m always amused when I come across folks who think freelancing is a breeze.
    Like everything else, and you said it well in your post, common sense and effort go a long way. Keep it up. Kudos!

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