Last updated on October 6th, 2023
Most freelancers want more clients. But they approach client attraction all wrong.
Finding and signing clients isn’t about pitching and praying or even an “apply for all jobs” approach.
If you want exceptional clients, you need to get exceptionally strategic.
Knowing how to find clients as a freelancer means you never ride the revenue rollercoaster. Or even if you do, you can step off easily and quickly.
When we started our business in 2011, we used warm email prospecting to land our first few clients.
This was way before tools like Instantly, Loom, or Canva had even made an appearance.
In fact, I think the first few pitches I sent were from a Yahoo! email account.
I know. 🤦🏻♀️
Point being …
Overthinking strategy can be just as damaging as overlooking it. Especially when you’re learning how to find clients as a freelancer.
Yes, be strategic.
No, don’t let strategy stall your progress.
With that said …
Here’s a day-by-day breakdown of the actions I would take if Mayank and I were starting from scratch and wanted to land our first few clients.
You can use this same process to land your next client. Fast!
How to Find Clients as a Freelancer Using a 30-Day Client Signing Sprint
The idea behind it is that by focusing on just one thing every day, you can make more progress than if you tried to do multiple things at once.
The goal of this process is to help you get more clients in the door faster.
A 30-day Client Signing Sprint is a process designed to help you get new clients and close deals faster.
It involves focusing on just one thing at a time and making sure that everything else is set up so that it’s easy for people to start working with you.
This find-and-sign clients process has three main steps:
1. It starts by evaluating your current client funnel and seeing what it needs — social proof, stronger offers, or a more strategic marketing approach.
2. Getting laser-focused on who you want to work with and how. Reaching ideal clients is easy when you know WHAT can you help them with.
3. Finally and most importantly, you put this into action by pitching with intention.
Alright, let’s get started.
🧱Week 1: Building Your Foundation
This week is ALL about you laying the groundwork for your sprint. From plugging the leaks to developing your pitch to do the research … you’ll do all of this in Week 1.
Day 1: Compile Your Success Stories
- Gather your case studies, testimonials, success stories, and shoutouts. Don’t have any? Do you have mentor endorsements? Use those. Peers recommending you? Use those.
- Use Canva, Loom, or InVideo to create visually rich documents or videos.
- OR use good, ol’ text to write a client success story from your own experience. In this post, you’ll write about a client who was struggling in their industry and how you helped them succeed. Include what the problem was, how you solved it, and the results they got. This can be used as your first case study or testimonial.
- Share across LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. For example: “Just got an amazing testimonial from [Client Name], we helped them achieve a 25% increase in sales with our marketing strategy.
Day 2: Develop Your Base Pitch Email
- Write a catchy subject line to pique interest.
- EXAMPLE: Subject: [Client Name] and [Your Company Name] Launch Marketing Campaign to Increase Sales by 25%
Body: Hi [First Name],
We just finished a project with [Client Name] last week and they got an incredible result. Their sales increased by 25% in the first week of our campaign! See the results for yourself at [Link to Case Study].
- EXAMPLE: Subject: [Client Name] and [Your Company Name] Launch Marketing Campaign to Increase Sales by 25%
- Introduce yourself and your services.
- Remember this email is about THEM. So you need to help them see how they’ll benefit from working with you. You need to decide WHAT would make the biggest impact on the decision-makers. And then share that. It could be your process, past successes, and client feedback. Share a compelling story that demonstrates your expertise. If you like, include a case study or testimonial. Regardless of what you share … it has to tie into results for THEM. End by asking for an opportunity to meet in person or on the phone to discuss how you can help their business grow.
- Include a call-to-action (CTA) for the next step, such as “Feel free to grab time here to chat”
Day 3: Reconnect with Past Clients
- Browse their website or social media to find recent achievements or developments.
- Personalize the base pitch email for each client.
- Comment on their successes and offer further services that match their needs. For instance, “Congratulations on opening your new location! You must be SO excited! Especially because Black Friday is 14 days away! Do let me know if you’d like to chat about planning and writing a holiday-focused email campaign for this new store?”
Day 4: Scout Prospective Businesses
Full disclosure: THIS will be the most time-consuming part of the process.
- Identify 30 businesses suitable for your services.
How do you do that? Get super clear on the businesses that would benefit the most from your services. If you have past client experience, use that to guide your decisions. Which clients were the best to work with? Which industries? What kind of projects? Start there.
- Use sites like PeakFreelance, Superpath, LinkedIn, or CrunchBase to discover businesses that are actively hiring. Narrow down to the ones that fit your client profile and pop their details into a spreadsheet, Notion doc, or Airtable.
- You can also review your network on LinkedIn or whatever social platform you’re on to see whether you’re already connected to someone who may fit the bill.
- Determine how your services benefit them and list the information in a spreadsheet.
Way back in 2011, the ultra-basic spreadsheet I used included details on Business Name, Contact Name (if available), Email Address, Website, Gaps Noticed, Services Pitched, Link to the Pitch Email
Day 5: Improve Your Services Page
- Ask someone in your target audience to review your services page.
- Request feedback regarding clarity, user experience, messaging, and possible improvements.
- Use their input to make necessary changes, ensuring your value proposition is Crizal-clear.
Day 6: Reflect on Week 1
- Analyze the success and reception of the shared case studies.
- Consider which platform or content type resonated best with your audience.
- Identify areas for improvement or even potential leads to pursue.
Day 7: Rest
Unwind and recharge your batteries for the upcoming week!
🤝Week 2: Follow-Up and Network
Now that you’re warmed up and have a solid foundation … time to lean on your network. *Inserts cheesy reminder about network being your net worth and all that.* 😂
Day 8: Tap into Old Leads
- Review your old leads database or emails and identify promising leads.
- Customize your base pitch email—remind them of any previous engagements. For instance, “Following up after our conversation at the XYZ Conference last year…”
Day 9: Collaborate with Peers and Friends
- Identify podcast hosts, summit organizers, or bloggers in your niche.
- Customize the base pitch email to offer your expertise as a guest speaker, writer, or collaborator.
- Emphasize shared audience interests or previous content you’ve contributed.
Day 10: Tackle Your Prospects List
- Send your customized pitch email to the first five businesses on your list.
- Explain precisely how you’ll improve their current situation—“Our conversion-focused web design services will reduce bounce rate by X% and increase conversions by Y%.”
Day 11: Develop a Service-Focused Sales Email
- Draft an email promoting one of your core services to your existing email list. And here’s the thing … even if you have 200 people on the list, that’s 200 people who’ve raised their hand and said they want to hear from you. The same’s true for 50 people or 20 people. The point is … if you have an email list, use it.
- Talk about pain points and how your service can help resolve them.
- Include a CTA for subscribers to respond or book your service.
- Alternatively, you can write a blog post about one aspect of your business. Research how your prospects are searching for answers to their problems, and then address them in your post.
Day 12: Perform Follow-Ups
- Send follow-up emails to past clients and businesses from Week 1.
- Ask about their thoughts on your pitch or whether they need further information.
- Confirm their interest—“I wanted to follow up on the email I sent about…”—and offer assistance if needed.
Day 13: Reflect on Week 2
- Analyze the response rate from follow-ups and emails sent to prospects.
- Evaluate how well your service-focused email was received.
- Identify patterns for success and improvement moving forward. If you find that your pitch isn’t resonating, try to tweak it by using a different angle. You can also try sending your pitch again with a personal touch, such as referencing something specific from the recipient’s LinkedIn profile or website.
Day 14: Rest
Relax and rejuvenate for the next phase of your sprint.
📈Week 3: Scale-Up and Automate
Fun times, folks! Time to put the pedal to the metal and automate a services funnel for all those prospects who come to your website but click away without inquiring about your services. Alternatively, you can also use this funnel to bring leads from social into your world. Let’s say … you decide to offer an audit as an opt-in and you share it on Instagram or LinkedIn. Everyone who signs up for that will now be a part of your funnel.
Day 15: Progress Through Your Prospects List
- Customize your pitch email for the next five businesses on the list.
- Leverage information about their current challenges and how your services can address them.
Day 16: Reach Out to Peers
- Identify potential collaborators in your field.
- Customize the base pitch email, focusing on how a partnership can benefit everyone involved.
Day 17: Map Out Your Evergreen Funnel
- Develop an evergreen funnel for one service. Focus is key.
- Plan the stages from lead generation, nurturing, and sales, to post-sales follow-up.
Day 18: Draft Funnel Emails
- Write FIVE emails for your funnel, addressing awareness, consideration, and decision-making stages.
- Create a basic email automation sequence and set up the first email in your funnel.
- Each email should provide value, engage readers, and guide them toward the desired course of action.
Day 19: Follow-Up Again
- Reconnect with the contacts from Weeks 1 and 2.
- Answer any questions or clarify details regarding your pitches.
Day 20: Reflect on Week 3
- Monitor email responses, funnel performance, and overall engagement.
- Assess what worked well and areas needing improvement.
Day 21: Rest
Recharge before the final week of client signing.
✨Week 4: Reach for the Stars
Ooh! This week is all about going BHAG! That’s Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal. You’ve been actively and intentionally pitching for 3 weeks now. You’re pretty much a pro at knowing how to find clients as a freelancer. Confidence levels are high. So why not shoot for the stars?!
Day 22: Dream Big—List Dream Clients
- Compile a list of your top 10 dream clients.
- These should be businesses you’d love to work with based on their mission, values, or stature in the industry.
Day 23: Pitch to Dream Client #1
- Research the company thoroughly.
- Draft a tailor-made pitch email highlighting how your services align with their needs. Better still? Be creative. Can you come up with a video pitch? Or if you’re a designer … a mock website pitch. If you’re pitching a podcaster, maybe come up with a mini private podcast pitch. I’ve seen freelancers do this in the past when pitching dream clients and it always stands out.
- Take a bold step and press “Send”!
Day 24: Set Up Your Evergreen Funnel from Week 3
- Take this day to implement your evergreen funnel from the previous week. You have all the pieces in place. Time to put it into action.
- Fine-tune automations, landing pages, and email sequences as needed.
Day 25: Pitch to Dream Client #2
- Thoroughly review the company information.
- Create a custom pitch focusing on their unique challenges and showcasing your solutions.
- Reach out to this dream client.
Day 26: Follow-Up Marathon
- Check on leads from the previous three weeks to gauge their interest or answer inquiries.
- Aim to move leads closer to signing on as clients.
Day 27: Reflect on the Whole Process
- Review all actions taken during this 30-day sprint.
- Analyze the successes, challenges, and learning experiences.
Day 28: Rest
CELEBRATE! You’ve successfully completed your 30-day client signing sprint! 👏🏼
Now that you know HOW to find clients as a freelancer, it’s essential you make working with you a breeze so getting referrals becomes THAT much easier.
Day 29: Optimize Your Client Onboarding Process
- Streamline onboarding mechanisms—checklists, agreements, invoices, or software integrations.
- Enhance communication to set expectations and facilitate smooth project beginnings.
Day 30: Focus on Enhancing Client Experience
- Evaluate your communication, workflow, and project management.
- Seek ways to improve client satisfaction—timelines, deliverables, or feedback channels.
No lie: THIS will feel intense.😅
BUT 30-day sprints like these are great for getting that motivation and momentum pumping. Plus when you know HOW to find clients as a freelancer … your life becomes THAT much easier.
Having said that … the 30-day number is very arbitrary. It could be 60 days or 15 days. I went with 30 because it felt easier than 15 days and more result-focused than 60. However, don’t let the number of days dictate whether you can or cannot sprint towards more clients.
Remember … strategy is great when it spurs you on. Not so great when it stalls your progress.
Go forth and sign those paying clients, my friends!
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