An Ex-Freelancers Guide to Getting Your First Clients

Jamees Bedford on September 09, 2019

I was a freelancer for nearly five years of my life. One of the things you learn fairly quickly, is freelancing isn't just about being an awesome ... [Read Full]
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Nice post! Very interesting advice about using instagram and monthly payments... I don't think I've thought about it that way before! Neat.

I would add - for anyone looking to become a freelancer - make sure you have some money saved up first! Your story here about doing a bunch of work for only £15 is great, because it illustrates that with freelancing, you may not get paid for awhile, and when you do - it might be not what you expect :) So you definitely need a runway to get started.

Thanks for the post!


Thanks for the reply Chris!

That is such a good piece of advice. I definitely reckon people should have AT LEAST a few months worth of wages saved up and really try and cut all their living expenses down to a minimum. It's hard out there!


Say you have a client and you charge him 6000€ for a project, thats 500€ a month. How do you manage to live with 500€ the first month or until you find more clients to earn enough money to sustain yourself?


I would be VERY careful about charging a flat rate for a project. I know many people do this, but I it can be incredibly dangerous. Money is often paid upon "completion" of the project, or at least a majority of the payment. The definition of "complete" can change drastically. Especially if you have clients who are new to web development and do not appreciate the amount of planning required to budget correctly. In short, the client can change the definition of complete, getting more and more hours of work, essentially for free. Charge hourly!


this is a really good point!

I think that the best solution to manage customer requests (and avoid continuous modifications for free) is to prepare good and detailed specifications.
in this case the monthly payments can work fine.
when an extra request comes, you evaluate it hourly and charge the customer outside the original contract.

do you think it could work fine?


The aim is to have numerous different clients all at the same time.

As mentioned to someone else here in a comment, I had enough money saved up to live off of for about half a year. I strongly recommend you were to do the same.

I have also found that some people will carry on in a full-time role until they have enough clients that they can comfortably leave.


This is a brilliant post. I tried looking into freelancing on the side for extra cash and thought Upwork and Fiverr seemed like the platforms to do that on. I was shocked to find both platforms completely saturated with from lowest cost of living areas. Even if their ads looked bad along with their portfolio, it's hard to beat $10 and even trying to match I found myself flooded beneath still.

I had decided to give up and just work on my skills as I was still fairly Junior at the time.

More recently I've felt the itch to try again but wasn't sure where to look or how to sell. Your advice definitely seems like a great place to start!


I'm really glad you found the advice helpful Phil!

All I would say is don't feel tempted to jump ship completely, but you seem to have made that decision which is very sensible! Many people think it is one or the other. All you need is an hour or two in the evening to start getting yourself out there in front of some clients.

Yes, give it a go! :) Let me know how you get on


Nice post, James!. Yeah, I think besides becoming a good salesperson, we need to become a good entrepreneur. I love to read Brian Tracy's book in sales topics, he advises to talking more about customer problems so much than our product or service.


Thank you!

They sound like interesting reads. Is there one you recommend?


Hey man!... Great article. Really like the idea of “go where the market is”. I also think those freelance websites are so saturated with competition and there are many people in our communities needing solutions for their business that clearly is a good strategy to go where they are and offer possible solutions.

Thanks for sharing 👍👏


Glad you enjoyed it 😀

Yeah, I think as developers we are so used to having a platform and doing things through a platform it can be intimidating to just work off your own back and find your own clients.

I mean even just going down my road there are so many self-employed people. The lady next door is a florist, the other side is a gardener. I'm sure the same can be said to loads of people.

It's reaching out to people like this, even off of the internet that will make the difference!


Thank you for your advices. I am trying to init in freelancing but for me it is so imposible. In many sites ,the advices are always the same, go to a freelancer website, build a good portfolio and start to look for jobs. But those websites have a lot of good developers with great rating, it is almost impossible find a job without stars or finished jobs. Thanks a lot for your original advices.


Thanks for the tips, James. Regarding the monthly payment idea. If in some cases your client wouldn't need any extra services after getting his website done, how the payment would be arranged?


That's ok :) You are very welcome.

I usually sell on the fact I will be maintaining and updating content.

If that isn't the case though it is a good selling point to say that monthly payments will cover the hosting/domain costs, and that the client has the option to update content if need be.

It also means that you can lower their original monthly cost, so be upfront about that. If they don't like the monthly payments and would rather pay the full amount upfront then thats ok too.


Thanks for this great advice James.

I'm in the early stage of setting up my own web development business and will 100% use your advice to get started.


You're more than welcome!

I hope this tactic allows you to flourish 😀


Thanks for this post, James.

A question:

How do you find clients from outside your city/country/area? Do you use too the IG approach?


Yes, I don't see why not!

I am lucky in the fact that where I live in the UK there are a lot of towns and cities within an hour radius of me and I end up targeting these places usually because I like meeting up with clients.

Is that not possible for you? It actually doesn't change the strategy at all.


Yes, it is possible but as I live in a low-densely populated and agricultural area in Spain, working for European/American clients is more attractive.

Glad to know this strategy can work in my case too :)


Great post James,

I'd like read more post like this, about freelancing experience. i considering become a freelancer in the next year and i'd want to be more aware about how to do it well.

Btw, Thanks for sharing!


Why are you no longer a freelancer?


I plan to go into this with next weeks post actually!

Ultimately it comes down to several factors:

1 - I like having a secure salary.

2 - I felt my skills become stagnant, I was trying to get work finished as quickly as possible to get a paycheck and that left me no room to experiment and try and grow my skills.

3 - I missed working within a team. Freelancing is lonely.

4 - I became sick and tired of having to chase clients for money and various other things associated with freelancing that people don't mention. I am still owed about £5000 from my freelancing stint from various clients and it has become likely I will never see that money.


I know it may be moot but is there any action you can take as a developer to recoup the 5k? Say take down their website until it's paid? I know it's unethical but Just thinking of ways to protect the freelancer against this practice of not paying for a service.


It is really difficult for many people (myself included) to sell themselves or their services, as we may often think of being "not good enough" or just feel awkward talking about money or making connections with clients. But if you put it that way, doesn't look bad at all. We should think of us as a solution for someone else problems instead of a product, that may help to reprogram our brains


This is awesome. I'm just now starting to look for more freelance gigs, and the Upwork onboarding experience basically gave me an anxiety attack.


Yeah man it is NOT the one 😂

Hopefully these tips will get you on your way!


Nice post! I really enjoyed it! Thank you!


Your welcome buddy!


This is some really good insight. Thanks for this! :D


You're very welcome!


This is really great advice. Thank You.


You're very welcome! Glad you found it useful.


Very useful post, thank you!

May I ask why did you leave the freelancing market? Also, would you say freelancing is something sustainable in the long run (for a decade or more, for example)?


This is really great post. Like others commenting here, I'm just getting started with freelancing and will definitely be following your advice. Thanks!


Cool Article ! Thanks for Sharer your history.


I really liked these tips! This is dam* good! Thanks))

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