Ask A Freelancer: Your First Client

One of the biggest struggles I’ve heard a lot from readers is how to get clients. This topic is a huge one and everyone has their different ways.

Referrals, social marketing, blogging, friends & family….the list goes on and on.

I plan on covering my take on different strategies a lot on the blog. But I’m just one person, and I know there is so much more wisdom out there than just little ol’ me can try and provide. So that gave me the idea of this new series.

Introducing: Ask A Freelancer.

We can learn so much from others and it’s always great to hear advice from successful freelancers you look up to. So in this series I plan on asking freelancers just one simple question, and sharing with you their response.

This week’s question:


Whether you are just starting out, or in the market for some new clients, these answers might give you some ideas of where to look next!

“So before I “officially” started my business I was doing work trade from my favorite yoga studio (I designed and maintained the website and in turn got free yoga.) Well, this owner had been working with a business coach who loved my work. This coach then sent me my first two paying clients – and it snowballed from there – he still sends clients 7 years later!

That one yoga site connected me with dozens of clients (many of whom attended the studio – and one client generated over 200k worth of work!) That’s why you always have to be proud to say what you do and be willing to talk about it with anyone – you just never know where it might lead.”

Michelle Martello,

“Like most freelance designers, my first paying client was a friend who needed a website + knew that I “did that sort of thing.” I felt like never working with a client before meant my prices had to be dirt cheap, so my estimate was too low for them to resist. Consider that a lesson learned!”

Alison Monday,

“LOL! My mom! She was bragging about me to her hairdresser, her decorator (she was planning a renovation at the time), her favorite bakery, anyone who had a crappy website and would listen to her. Then she’d call me and say “I have a client for you.” For the first few months of my business, I feel like my mom was my agent!”

Suzi Istvan,

“After doing tens of free sessions a fellow Bschooler {online business course} came up to me and said she wanted in. Paying. Still shocked today.”

Maria Gil Ulldemolins,

“When I first got started as a graphic artist, I met someone that could definitely use some design help with their print advertising, but didn’t understand how good design could improve their ROI. I volunteered to do the first ad for free, and I made sure they added something in the ad so they could track performance.

They had a 10% increase in calls in the first month after the ad broke, and I got the majority of their design projects for the next few years.”

Dave Conrey,

“My first paying client was through networking with other web designers and that’s how I still receive many of my referrals. I’ve never viewed them as competition. They’ve been my biggest mentors + source of knowledge + work along the way.”

Amanda Klausmeier,

“While going to college for Advertising, I worked as an office manager. A contractor doing work at the office heard and asked me to design business cards for his company. I not only designed them but arranged printing too. In retrospect, they weren’t that great, but he was thrilled with them. Hey, we all have to start somewhere.”

Torie Mathis,

“My first paying client was a practitioner that worked out of the natural therapies practice I ran before getting into webdesign. Whether you are just starting out or been going for years it’s so often who you know and who THEY know. Referrals are by FAR the main source of clients for me.”

Marama Carmichael,

“My first paying client was my best friend from high school’s housemate from 10 years ago! It’s amazing the random connections you have as s freelancer!”

Ellissa Jayne,

“I got my first client through a coworker of my mother’s. Don’t be afraid to have your family and friends pimp you out!”

Natalia Real,

“Referral from an internship I was already doing. Joining a design agency is a great way to get big name clients on your roster.”

Amanda Genther,

Good stories huh?

I hope this helped give you some ideas about where you can find your next client. They’re out there, you just need to get yourself in front of them. Think outside the box 🙂


Leave a Comment