How to find high-quality freelance design leads every single day
Written by Robert Williams
There was a time when all month I’d worry about where my next project would come from. I felt helpless. The online community didn’t help. Freelancers would tell me that this was just the way things were. Freelancing had dry spells — period. As time passed, I started to push against this narrative.
I knew there had to be a better way. This new way led me back to myself. My problem was my lack of effort and action. Dry spells didn’t need to happen and there WAS another way. In fact, I now find enough client work for hundreds of freelancers and agencies.
Like I’ve literally helped hundreds of businesses like these find and win high-value projects. Yet I could’ve easily done this for myself. Anyone could. So why don’t they? Why don’t you? I’ve been doing this for 3 years.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
- The best site for finding work is ALL of the sites.
There’s job boards, there’s facebook, there’s linkedin, and tomorrow there will be a hundred more. You’re never going to be able to keep track of everything. Instead find ways to search through everything at once. For example, compile job board feeds into an RSS reader. Make lists on Twitter. That way you can hit up each source once a day, instead of refreshing it all day.
- Just start.
Emailing one person in the next 5 minutes is more valuable than emailing 100 people “someday”. No more excuses. I would try to scare you by saying someone else will come along and do it, but the truth is no one is doing it. The clients are there for the taking.
- Don’t make excuses.
No more ‘but’s. I don’t care if this person looks like an ideal client or not, email them. If they have a problem you can solve it’s your duty to educate them about why you’re the right choice. That’s what you signed up for when you became a freelancer. Even if your technical specialty isn’t mentioned in their job post. Also remember to pitch full-time opportunities too, because sometimes these are the best leads.
- Get a name and email address before you email people.
Doing this is a little extra bit of work is one of the easiest ways to increase your chances of successfully landing a project (and it’s totally worth it). Pro-tip: A quick google search including “First and Last name”, “@domain.com”, or “email” finds almost anyones direct email address.
- You should send at least 15 outreach emails each month.
The average freelance consultant or agency needs about 30 new leads to keep their pipeline healthy. Half of those should be inbound leads, referrals, and leads that come in through your network. The other half should be leads you contact cold. Find and email at least 15 new potential clients for success. Do all 15 today and you’ll find yourself benefitting all month.
- Remember it’s all about timing.
Stop thinking you have to be the first person to contact a lead to land them. That’s completely false. You don’t need to be the first, you need to be the most timely. Sometimes that means being first but other times that means following up the most or following up months or years later when everyone else quits.
- You can outsource part of this process.
Once you get this process down — don’t do it yourself. You’re a busy business owner that charges clients a lot of money for your time. Spending time finding leads yourself means you’re losing thousands of dollars. Instead, hire a VA or a service like Workshop so all you have to do is connect with new potential clients. Build a system around it.
I help underwater design agencies fix staff shortages quickly and come back up for air. I run Folyo, a private referral community of product designers, and I host Freelance, a podcast about how to work independently.
The best clients come from referrals
Folyo is a product design referral newsletter and community for designers and agencies looking to get more client work. Members get exclusive product design opportunities sent to their inbox almost daily.