I have been working as a freelance designer for almost 5 years now and people always ask me, “How/Where do you find all these clients?”. Student designers might find this process frustrating and intimidating, but always remember, all designers start with ZERO experience.
1. Organize Your Design Portfolio
This is the first most important thing you have to do BEFORE you start looking for clients. Never once I got a job without the client requesting to look at my portfolio first. This portfolio will get you jobs and bring you places. Create a digital copy as well, do keep the file size small so that it will be easy to send it over via email. If you have Web Design experience, create an online portfolio, that would be even better.
2. Advertise Yourself
There are many FREE Singapore classified ads that you could setup your online advertisements.This is what I would usually do, type in “Singapore Classified Ads” and I will click the first 20 links and send my advertisements to ALL of them (only if they are free.. haha). Personally I find http://singapore.gumtree.sg/and http://www.olx.com.sg/ gets me the best responds.
When you are typing your advertisements, keep your message short sweet and simple. Your clients don’t really want to know your life story, they only want to know if you are suitable to do the job. Keep your message professional as well. And also, remember to put in your contact number and email as well! I have seen so many advertisements with NO numbers or emails. It is also very important that you have great customer service skills as this will give you more opportunities to start your work and gain more responsibilities. This is why you should read this guide on the different types of customer service models.
3. Look for Jobs
After sending in your first batch of advertisements, don’t just sit there and wait for the clients to fall on your lap. They are not durains you know. Like how you would search for a permanent or full time jobs, those jobs websites like jobcentral, jobs DB will have some companies that are looking for freelance designers as well. Try freelancezone.com.sg . Sign up as a member and see what they have to offer.
At the same time, set a goal of how many freelance job request you want to send out. (When I just started freelancing, I sent about 10 job request a day). Don’t worry about not having enough time to handle all these clients, because not all clients will give a positive reply, and all 10 companies will not reply AT THE SAME TIME! Further more, if you have too many things on hand, you can always politely turn them down. But to make it easier for yourself on the payroll side of things, you can always find free invoice templates as there are a lot of companies that make them! This will save time rather than creating them yourself, and they can look more professional. Once you get that freelance job and find yourself earning enough, you find out how to calculate office space rent and take your freelance business into another level.
Think of it this way, it is better to have too many clients than no clients at all.
4. Don’t Give Up!
Even after freelancing for many years, you will encounter some down time where you have nothing to do at all. There will be times when did all the steps above and business is not picking up as fast as you wanted. This will get you pretty depressed and suddenly, the thought of having a 9-5 desk bound job seems pretty lucrative. If you are just starting out, don’t set the bar too high for yourself. Just don’t give up and keep sending those emails during your free time. If you have enough confidence and an impressive portfolio, it will pick up eventually.