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110 Ideas to Get More Work and Generate New Client Leads

Whether they’re designers, developers, copywriters, or some other creative professional, most freelancers ask themselves the very same question: How can I find more clients?

We’ve updated our monster list of over a hundred ideas designed to help you do just that. Not all of these ideas will make sense to everyone, but we hope you’ll find at least a few to help you find newer and better paying freelance opportunities. Here we go …

Use Word of Mouth

  • Enlist your family and friends to help spread the word about your services
  • Send out an email to former coworkers and other contacts announcing what you do, where you are, and what you can offer
  • Ask your satisfied clients for testimonials and referrals
  • Offer free consultations to new referrals (consider including a time limit so they can’t pump you for too much free advice)
  • Consider a referral or finders fee

Keep in Touch with Clients

  • Contact past and current clients when you have a new service to offer them
  • Get in touch with past and current clients when you have completed an important project
  • Start a newsletter
  • Take advantage of every outgoing email by using your email signature as a marketing tool
  • Send promotions for services with your invoices
  • Ask your clients to place a credit on your work in web, video, or print
  • Make a calendar featuring your work for clients to put up in their offices to serve as a constant reminder
  • Make a poster for your client to hang up on their office wall
  • Suggest new projects to your existing clients, such as a blog, Twitter account, or newsletter

Talk the Talk

  • Go to industry events – conferences, association meetings, seminars
  • Go to events in your client’s industry
  • Sponsor a client event
  • Join your local Chamber of Commerce and get involved
  • Socialize and always have your business card ready
  • Do some high profile pro bono work for a non-profit
  • Get involved in social groups you’re connected to (church, school, university)
  • Join a professional association and get listed
  • Contact people you used to work with and ask them to send you any run-off work they might have
  • Offer to give a seminar to a local business group
  • Practice an elevator speech about what you do and have it ready to go wherever you are
  • Participate on online forums (using the forum signature line)
  • Comment on relevant blogs to draw people back to your freelance site
  • Create a blog that’s relevant to prospective clients (not just other freelancers)
  • Offer guest blog posts to blogs that are relevant to your clients
  • Create a buzz piece and include your URL so prospective clients can find you

Promote Yourself

  • Have signage printed for your car (make sure your URL is big enough to be legible from far away)
  • Get t-shirts made with your URL
  • Advertise in a niche magazine or trade publication
  • List yourself in directories like CreativeHotList or the one here on buiznus
  • Research sites your clients are visiting and buy advertising there
  • Advertise in online directories
  • Participate in a trade show
  • Holidays are your friend! Send a clever holiday greeting to clients showing your work
  • Have a gimmick that makes you stand out
  • Give something away for free
  • Advertise in an industry newsletter
  • Offer branded pens and paper at industry events

Be an Industry Expert

  • Host a webinar or teleseminar that would interest prospective clients
  • Create your own podcast or videocast
  • Pitch an article to an industry publication
  • Pitch a story to a blog or resource website
  • Offer to speak at industry and networking events
  • Submit tutorials or how-to’s to websites
  • Get on the radio
  • Write an eBook or Report for your target market and promote it online
  • Answer relevant questions on LinkedIn
  • Enter your work into competitions and awards… and win 

Use the media

  • Issue a press release about a story related to your services and try and get it into a local newspaper or magazine
  • Sign up as a source on HelpAReporter.com and respond to interview requests in your niche
  • Run a contest which ties into your services and promote it

Job Boards

  • Keep an eye on online job boards
  • Check out Craigs List for your city
  • Post in the services section of Craigs List rather than just responding to job ads
  • Keep an eye on offline job boards
  • Pin up a little advert on boards in your local area or community

Brrr – It’s Cold in Here!

  • Find out how you could improve a companies business and profits and cold call them with your pitch
  • Mail promo postcards to potential clients
  • Mail fun promotional items to potential clients (calendars, toys, posters etc)

Help Leads Find You

  • Apply SEO techniques to your website to boost Google traffic
  • Have a follow up conversation with all potential leads
  • Make sure you’re listed in the Yellow Pages and White Pages business section

Get in Bed with Local Business

  • Contact your local internet service provider or printing house and offer them a commission if they refer work
  • Establish contacts in larger agencies that can refer their run-off work
  • Try location-based Google Adwords
  • Take out an ad out in a local newspaper
  • Keep in touch with freelancers that will offer clients a complementary service to yours and throw each other work
  • Create a local business directory and use it to get to know other business owners who might later need your services
  • Cross promote with other businesses
  • Ask if you can put your business cards or brochure in local stores
  • Join a coworking space shared with other businesses or freelancers

Industry Specific Ideas

And here are some ideas that are tailored to certain industries…

Photographers

  • Enter your work into a gallery or run an exhibition
  • Submit some work to stock agencies to generate extra revenue
  • Do a new series of work so you have a reason to show your portfolio to an old contact
  • Send in your photography work to industry magazines to make a name for yourself
  • Start a photo blog
  • Photograph an event or series and pitch it to a newspaper or magazine
  • Get an agent

Programmers & Developers

  • Pitch your self as a developer who understands web designers, because most of them need a developer
  • Write a small web app like ta-da list or jobpile and get some recognition
  • Create an app for Facebook or mobile phones
  • Answer tech questions on forums and use a signature that says you offer freelance coding services
  • Keep your eyes open for businesses still using @yahoo or @AOL email addresses and pitch yourself as their web developer so they can get a domain-based email
  • Enter a programming contest like RailsDay
  • Contribute to open source efforts and get known

Illustrators/Animators

  • Start a comic strip blog – e.g. QuestionableContent
  • Make characters and create merchandise based on them – figurines, badges, t-shirts, etc
  • Enter some competitons to get your illustrations in some famous places – snowboards, posters
  • Create an awesome animation that wins you fame like Laith Bahrani
  • Do stock illustrations for a site like istockphoto and have a portfolio site offering custom ones
  • Write to big blogs and offer to do a cartoon strip (k10k)
  • Send in your illustration work to magazines like computerarts.co.uk
  • Create a promo Reel of animations or illlustrations and send it around/get it publicised
  • Send your illustrations to gift card publishers

Writers, Bloggers, Journalists

  • Pitch yourself at ad, design and web design agencies as a copywriter
  • Find some photos on iStockPhoto, add some creative headlines, and make a mailer out of it
  • Submit articles to article banks for sale
  • Pitch article ideas to editors, online and off
  • Sell reprint rights to articles for which you own the rights (you can do this on your own or through a syndication service like FeatureWell.com)
  • Reslant an article you’ve already written for a new market
  • Write a book and publish it with lulu.com

Designers

  • Submit work to design compilation books and magazines
  • Get your portfolio/profile listed on a site like Coroflot
  • Design a great website and submit it to design galleries like CSSMania.com
  • Build a great portfolio and submit it to design portals like DesignIsKinky.com
  • Start a magazine, design portal or blog

There you have it! Have you tried any of these ideas? Which ones were most effective? Are there any ideas you’d like to add? Leave a comment and let us know!

 

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