Thursday, 17 March 2011

6 Ways to Get More Clients

In your career as a freelancer, you must have experienced the moment when your business slowed down and you simply got stuck and thought: “Where can I market my services, and where are any clients?” This question is even more painful during the quite times, when work is not coming in and everyone around is tweeting about how busy and tired they are. 

The most important thing is not to let this downturn happen at all. But how?

1.      NETWORK, network and then network even more. The power of networking is very often underestimated; people think that it is all about going hundreds of miles to attend costly conferences and networking events. Well, not really. As much as attending and taking active part in big events is an excellent way of networking, it is definitely not the only one. Unless you live in a desert or on the North Pole, there must be some events close to where you live, so look around and ...

2.      GO LOCAL. There are plenty of networking opportunities in your area, you just don’t know about them. Consider open days, workshops, smaller networking events (yes, some are free), contact your local Chamber of Commerce and grab a local business magazine. Whatever you do, know your ground and talk to people.

Ewa at a local networking event (on the left)

3.      DON’T SELL your services at these events, this is not about pitching but rather socialising, getting valuable information, networking and most of all, having a good time. After all, who said that doing business is not fun?

4.      HAND OUT YOUR BUSINESS CARDS on every possible occasion (within reason). Last time I gave my business card to a taxi driver; he was interested in what I do so he might as well tell someone else about me. Now, what if this person actually needs my services? V’oila! The taxi driver will help his friend and hand him my business card. Now, what if I didn’t give it to the taxi driver in the first place?

5.      TALK TO PEOPLE, and again, I don’t mean pitching. Just be open-minded and ready to mention (if the circumstances are right) that you have your own business and you do this and that. Try to do it in a chatty way – no presentations at this point. Mind you, people who work from 9 to 5 and who are surrounded by other people who also have fixed working hours are fascinated  by (or at least very interested in) freelancers’ lifestyle.

6.      BE SPONTANEOUS. I get very interesting jobs purely by accident. These ‘accidents’ though were triggered by my spontaneous actions, where for example I popped into a Polish shop (in the UK) and had a chat with the owner who ‘accidentally’ was looking for a translator. Another time, I gave my business card to someone from a non-profit organisation, during the open days in October last year. Today, someone from this organisation called me and said that some of their clients need their diplomas and certificates to be translated, and she asked me whether they can refer those clients to me. Oh, yes please, thank you very much!

These are a few of the things that I have observed and experienced for the last several months. Before that, I had not been aware of the power of networking and making contacts. Now, I am more open minded, prepared (business cards in my bag and even in some pockets) and ready to make contacts, wherever I go. Clients are everywhere, not only on Proz. or TranslatorsCafe. Who knows, a (free) entry in a local directory might get you a loyal client that will stay with you for years.


  1. A great post Ewa. Great minds think alike - I was actually thinking about writing on exactly the same topic - which I will do in a due course anyway.
    I do exactly what you say, chat to people, tell them what I do (if they ask, most of them do), go to various events. I would add it is good to be known in your community - I get involved in many initiatives, partnerships and nfp organisations locally. I do social marketing as everyone else of course, at the end of a day we live in a global village. But I also endorse 'think globally, act locally' approach.

  2. Thanks for sharing. This is one of the areas I struggle with since I tend to be shy. Networking more often is one of the goals I've set for myself this year.

  3. Thank you Ewa! I'm gong through the same process right now, discovering the benefits of networking =)
    Have a great day!

  4. Great post Ewa, thanks! Like Ginna, I also struggle with this, because I am pretty shy, but knowing that other successful translators have been doing this makes me want to give it a try. In fact, it is also one of my goals for this year.

  5. Thank you all for your interest and comments.
    @Aga I'm looking forward to your post. Great tip on taking part in local initiatives and being known in your community.
    @Ginna & Livia I've been there too but then I thought that if I don't do it, no one will. I started locally with small steps at the beginning but once you start to act, one thing will lead to another, and before you know it, you become a networking animal :-)
    @Olenka well done! Enjoy it, wish you every success with your networking.

    Thank you girls for sharing your thoughts with me!

  6. This is a very useful post. Recently, I wrote something similar but with advice on online marketing.