Most freelancers think that getting a client is hard.
It’s normal to think that way because the number of freelancers around the world is growing—fast.
In the United States and the United Kingdom alone, 20%-30% of the working-age population are engaging in independent work[*].
That’s not counting the number of freelancers in our neighboring countries like India which is at 15 million[*] and here in the Philippines at 1.5 million[*].
What does this mean for you?
Well, two things…
One, the gig economy is flourishing.
Which means there are more opportunities for remote workers now more than ever.
And two, the competition is about to get tougher.
…Especially for newbies, who are always advised to start on marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com to get experience.
But how can you stand out from the freelancing crowd?
I’m talking about millions of fellow freelancers on these platforms:[*]
- Freelancer.com: Over 31 million users
- Upwork: Over 17 million registered users
- Fiverr: Over 7 million registered users
If you’re a freelancer—whether seasoned, newbie or aspiring—and this data gets you worried…
Don’t worry. We got you.
You have more prospects than you think—you just have to know where to look.
Take clues from these clever freelancers who have found (and closed) clients in the most unexpected places.
Curious? Intrigued? Perplexed?
Put those eyebrows down and take note of these unconventional places you can explore to find your next freelance client:
#1 – Your personal circle
It’s common for friends and family to NOT support your freelancing business especially when you’re just getting started.
Probably because they think it’s not serious and it doesn’t feel like a REAL job.
Working at your own time?
Working at home in your pajamas or while sipping coffee in a cafe?
It’s unglamorous, boring, and not sexy at all.
So it’s natural for you to keep your business away from their noses.
But your network is your net worth, including your personal connections.[*]
In fact, great things happen when you try to do the exact opposite…
Which is tell friends and family that you’re now offering freelancing services and ask them if they know someone who might need it.
Eddie Constantino, Facebook & Messenger Marketing Expert
Client source: a congregation co-member and basketball buddy
Eddie did not only turn a colleague into a warm prospect, but he also scored his first talk about Social Media and Marketing in an event called Entrepreneur for Beginners.
It was 8 months after his initial contact when the prospect finally agreed to a call.
Eddie believed it was because he has given value first and was perceived as an expert.
And when the call finally happened, the client brought in his ENTIRE marketing and sales department to attend.
This left Eddie with what looked like a panel interview which spanned 1.5 hours long! (see the picture above on the right/left)…
With 9 experts in the room—only he was the one asking questions.
Although he wasn’t able to close the deal, he got something better.
The same prospect invited him to talk for an event for Entrepreneurs, Business Leaders and Investors of the Philippines (EBLIP).
He said “YES” even if he has NO IDEA on how to do one…
What good did the talk bring him?
Not much, just 10 qualified leads all interested in his offer.
Now he gets to be the freelancer who picks out which clients he wants to work with.
Where else to look?
Don’t have a game buddy or a congregation to tap into?
Try your previous officemates like what Cons, a Facebook Ads and Messenger Marketing expert, did.
Sometimes, keeping in touch with your previous mentor can bring you freelancing opportunities. Like AngelineViray here…
Who ended up taking on an actor as a client…
And managed to stay cool about it.
…let’s keep it a secret on who this actor is for now.
Just because they used to be your drinking buddies doesn’t mean they won’t be a good source of business leads.
If all else fails, you can try you mom.
Why not when she’s the one person who will support you in everything you do?
Harry, a business coach who gets paid up to $700 per session, occasionally gets a referral from his mom.
He says his half-Chinese mom and his full-blooded Indian dad are his inspiration for doing the coaching business.
The takeaway: You might not know it yet, but the people who are close to you may be the people who need your services the most. Your family, friends, and personal network can be the freelancing motherlode that you haven’t hit yet. So start digging and ask them what they need help on right now.
In fact, if you’re inside our FREE workshop group, you can check out the Outreach Strategy which we outlined here inside this post and you might just land yourself a client.
#2 – Fellow freelancers
Is there competition between freelancers?
But why let it get in the way when we SHOULD be helping each other out? And yes, even if you’re in the same market and offering (almost) the same skills.
Holstee even suggests that “Working with others, instead of against others, can help you build relationships. These relationships can, and many times do, turn into larger projects that include people you would never think you would work with.” [*]
In fact, COOPERATION occurs quite often inside the Tribe and it produces some pretty astonishing results.
Just check out the stories below…
Bea Vergara, Funnel Builder and Designer
Client source: Fellow funnel builder
When her friend shared a lead in their group chat, nobody was willing to take on the client because of the notion that the client is difficult to deal with and has no budget.
But good thing Bea took on the lead as it was her biggest close to date at $3,997.
Payment was sent 7 hours after the proposal with absolutely NO objections.
Quick trivia # 1. The Bea before DID NOT invite prospects to a discovery call. She would simply talk to the prospects via chat.
But for this client, she was confident,
“I asked lots of intelligent questions during the call na will help me better prepare a plan of action for the funnels that they’re looking to build.
Since medyo nasanay na ako kaka-discovery call from other clients and I already recognized the pattern dahil palagi ko tong ginagawa, medyo confident na ko…”
Quick trivia #2. Wondering how Bea’s psychological wallet, which was stuck at $2,500, was bumped up?
Dina, a fellow freelancer TRIBE superstar, talked her into it and gave her strategies on how to do the investment section of her proposal.
In the TRIBE, it’s definitely community over competition.
And it’s not uncommon.
Here’s another win… this time Cenry winning a $5k deal with Sergio’s referral.
And if you think collaborating is all about referrals, think again. Sometimes, the benefits of having someone to collaborate with goes beyond than just working on one-off projects.
Take Anna’s story for example…
After she got invited by Tisya Pasag to join the Systophia Team, a VA agency, she now has newfound energy and is starting to build her own team too.
Emmanuel also had the chance to have a collaboration with Tisya with the bonus of seeing how a pro handles a prospect from the beginning until the end.
Heck, you can find “looking for a collaboration partner” post inside the TRIBE almost every day…
And it’s the kind of post that you’ll never get tired of seeing.
Especially if you’re a newbie who wants to dip your toes before doing a full freelancing dive.
One thing is for sure… when these freelancers stepped out from the office, they surely left the office politics with their resignation letters.
Because in freelancing, the success of others doesn’t lessen your chances of winning. When others gain clients, it doesn’t mean that your clientbase is shrinking.
Over 627,000 new businesses open each year in the United States alone.[*] With each business needing at least 2-3 freelancers on average.
Which means everyone, even their grandma, can be a freelancer and still have unlimited opportunities to grow.
As David Colgan said,
“True wealth creation is not zero sum.
I don’t have to go ruin your water plant, and you don’t have to ruin my farm, in order to do an economic transaction. You have more water than you can use, and I have more food than I can use. An exchange creates wealth out of nothing!
The same is true of freelancing.”[*]
The takeaway: In freelancing, success in not a pie that only 6 people in the room gets to have a slice. It’s not a zero-sum game—it’s an unlimited pie kind of situation.
It’s counterintuitive, but the more you connect with your fellow freelancers, the more opportunities open up for you—because it means sharing of ideas, collaborating on projects, and referring clients to one another.
#3 – Past, current and soon-to-be clients
You probably have a freelancer friend who seems to be lucky.
Clients are swarming over her as bees do to honeycombs.
Well, there seems to be a common practice that the “lucky” freelancers inside the TRIBE do to get this…
They ask for referrals.
In fact, Dropbox grew by 3900% through a simple referral program. They got 4 million users in just 15 months.[*]
Some TRIBE freelancers ask for referrals even before the project starts.
Julian Canita, Facebook Ads Expert
Client source: Old and new clients
Yes, Julian was able to get referrals even before the project started.
But it hasn’t always been that way.
Heck, he doesn’t believe in asking for referrals at all before.
So what changed?
He simply believed that it could happen to him and gave it a try.
And it seems that he’s “lucky” because it all worked out and he got 2 referral emails.
And if you’re curious, here’s the referral email.
And if it worked on a new client, it must work on older clients.
And if you’re wondering if he closed the referrals, Julian did.
And speaking of ‘sweet’, Donna, a Funnel Builder and Designer, has a sweet way of thanking clients…
And not only does it give her instant referrals, it also keeps her client relationships open—clue: future projects—while keeping her services on top of her clients’ minds.
If you still doubt the power of simply asking your clients for a ‘referral’ here’s what Jaime has to say…
And if you’re feeling a little down because none of your clients has sent referrals your way yet, Roman Matuguinas, one of the top Tribe students, wants to tell you this:
#4 – Prospects you didn’t close
What do you do to prospects that didn’t say yes to you?
Do you totally ignore them?
Do you forget about them and bury their existence?
Do you remove them from your Facebook friend list? Because you got a bit offended when they went missing in action after you sent the proposal.
Let me stop you right there.
Always give your clients the benefit of the doubt. They might just be busy or swamped with immediate personal stuff.
It doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in working with you.
That’s why follow-ups are important…
It’s been tracked and proven that 2% of all sales are made on the first contact.
3% are made on the second contact.
5% on the third contact.
10% on fourth.
And a whopping 80% on the fifth and twelfth contact.
Which means that if you’re earning PHP20k a month and you’re not following up on prospects after your first try, you’re literally missing about another PHP180k of your supposed freelance income.
Now that you know all these…
Time to try this assertive freelancer’s good advice.
April Alen Abion, Health and Wellness Copywriter
Client source: Prospects that didn’t convert into clients
When a prospect went missing in action after she sent in her proposal, April didn’t just stop there.
She made it a habit to reach out to that prospect every month. She would just usually ask how the business is doing and share helpful resources that can help.
On top of that, she also creates valuable content on her Facebook profile with the aim of making her posts visible to those prospects.
Long story short, this prospect still remained a prospect…
But he sent a referral to April because she was leading with value.
And who knows?
This prospect might come back to seek April’s copywriting services soon.
Like they often always do…
The takeaway: Always keep in touch with previous prospects, whether they acknowledge you or not. Because you will never know when they’ll become clients or when they’ll be sending referrals your way. Stay on top of their minds by constantly putting out value where they can see them.
#5 – Your local community
Sometimes, we overlook the potential of connecting with people who are within our reach…
The people in our own community.
We are straining our necks too hard to see what’s on the other side of the fence, convinced that the grass is greener—even if we haven’t caught a glimpse yet.
We do this everyday that we fail to see a beautiful garden growing right under our feet, waiting to be nurtured to fully blossom.
Abigail Mabilangan, Research and Data Management Specialist
Client source: Her local community
How did a self-proclaimed “double introvert” muster up the courage to talk in front of women professionals in her own community, bagged friends, and had almost 35 prospects booking a slot for her upcoming workshop?
Inspiration struck Abigail upon hearing John’s message during the TFMT Anniversary celebration…
It was about not only giving value but having an IMPACT on people’s lives alongside growing our freelance business.
She decided to give one of Connected Women’s Meet Up a try.
There she talked to teachers, directors, managers, business owners, CEOs, and even fellow freelancers.
She was then asked if she’d like to be one of the speakers on the next meet up.
And just like Eddie (who had NO previous speaking experience), Abigail found confidence from the Secret Files No. 4 that John sends quarterly to the TRIBE members.
By simply looking at the picture above, you can already tell that the event was a success.
What’s next for Abby?
A workshop teaching women on how they can start their own freelancing business. And guess what…
All 20 spots are taken and can probably go up until 35.
Now, communities are not limited to the group of people who live within your area.
They can be a group of like-minded people that you find online…
Like the TRIBE…
Who celebrated as one when a fellow tribe member bested foreign freelancers in snagging the Content Writer position for one of the Inc 500 companies in the world.
But it was a premature celebration…
It seems like they’re eyeing someone else for the position…
The TRIBE went wild for days because of that win.
At that time, we still didn’t have a clue on who they were, but the idea of having 2 TRIBE members vying for the position is already enough.
When John finally announced it, we all congratulated Jeff Bacolod for grabbing the title.
Funny thing, he almost missed the announcement.
When asked if he did something special to land the job, he answered…
“But nung nakita daw nila application ko, they liked how I presented myself daw, yung care for the little details, it was not one single big thing, like i said, wala akong ginawang super extraordinary or special…
…but many little things daw put together, made them exclaim, ‘I think we have found the one! We’ve found our writer!’
And they expedited the interview daw, well actually it was more of a job offer meeting with the 2 Directors na…
Had to contain myself from selling myself sa call kc I felt they were already convinced na…and thank God I got hired on the spot!”
The takeaway: Freelancing is often perceived as a one-man’s journey, but it’s not. Freelancers do work alone at home on most days, so it’s best to connect with communities so you not lose touch of meaningful human connections…
And who knows? You might just meet your next client, business partner or TRIBE family who will share your freelancing high’s and low’s.
If you’re starting your freelancing journey, start with The Freelance Movement Workshop Community. It’s free to join.
#6 – Your own list
They say in business, the money is in the list.
The “list” here refers to a list of email addresses and can be a:
- Cold list – prospects you want to work with
- Warm list – prospects who have subscribed to receive your newsletter
- Waitlist – prospects who want to work with you but have to be put on hold because you’re fully booked
What you do here is try to connect with everyone in your list by sending them insightful emails that will make them want to know more about what you can do for their business.
Just like this one…
When you’re starting out, cold emailing the prospects that you want to work with can help take off your business.
Like Laura Lopuch, a SaaS email copywriter, “By the end of my first year in business, I ended up with more work than I could handle. I was working close to full-time with several clients. My business grew ridiculously. All thanks to cold emails.”[*]
…And Romer from the TRIBE.
Romer, Email Copywriter
Client sources: Cold email and waitlist funnel
When Romer came home from the meetup session with John Pagulayan, The TRIBE’s Founder, he was ecstatic to apply what he has learned about building a waitlist funnel.
He also wanted to eat his own cooking…
In other words, he wants to apply the services he’s offering (email copywriting) for his own business.
He adds, “If I can’t get my own clients using my email copy, then how can I help my clients with my services?”
Getting the client took a while.
He even got discouraged in the middle of all of it, but he persisted…
It took another while for Romer to woo another premium client. This time, using cold emails…
When he received this reply from the prospect, he crowdsourced expert advice from the tribe on how to go about it.
Again, it was a long shot, but it was worth it.
Latest update: Romer could possibly close another deal (up to $20k) with this client.
And Niel Reichl, the TRIBE’s calculating, yet hilariously playful coach, can’t stress this enough.
The takeaway: Having your own list is having control over your freelancing business. You can decide who to work with. You can get new clients when you want to. Plus, you don’t have to worry about any platform increasing fees, changing the search algorithm, or banning your account—you will always have that list to email.
#7 – Social media
If you’re a freelancer, and you’re not using social media, you’re leaving a ton of money on the table.
In fact, just spending an hour or so connecting with prospects, fellow freelancers, and industry leaders in there can give you outstanding results.
It’s one place where you can build your authority and your network easily and affordably (you won’t have to spend a cent).
It’s also one place where prospects look for someone who can help them.
VP Alfie, Bookkeeper
Client source: Facebook group for entrepreneurs
Apparently, Alfie’s name “got tossed around” on a thread in a Facebook group where her prospects (modern business owners and entrepreneurs) are hanging out online.
But how did it get to this?
All Alfie did was to ask her past clients to refer her to colleagues who need someone to fix their messy books.
And just like that, Alfie became the go-to bookkeeper in that community.
Now you don’t have to be recommended in a Facebook Group to get a client on social media.
Start small. Start writing value posts in your own timeline. Like Marielle…
She ended up having a Discovery Call with a possible client.
The takeaway: Using your social media is one of the easiest, yet most discounted ways of showing your authority, building your network, and making clients come to you. You don’t always need to start with a website.
#8 – Freelancing sites
Isn’t this too obvious to be included in the list?
But it often gets a bad rep.
They say employers on freelancing sites are lowballers offering dirt cheap rates.
But how can you explain TRIBE members who are closing premium projects on these platforms?
It’s best to hear from them.
Mang Inasar, Video Content Creator
Client source: Upwork
Let’s start with how much he earned from a single project on the platform…
To be clear, that’s $20,000—not Php20,000.
But that’s not the total project price.
It’s actually way more than that…
Not even $50,000…
Yup, that’s $55,000 for a single project from Upwork—and it comes with 15% commission!
He’s certainly hesitant to share his identity, but he was open to revealing how he did it…
His game plan goes beyond the “optimize your Upwork profile” advice, but it starts there.
Once he attracts sales-ready prospects who needs his exact service, here’s what he does:
- He disqualifies prospects who offer low rates.
- He sends an apology letter like this:
Thank you for the invitation.
I really wanted to help you create a profitable channel using [insert strategy].
I have grown a video channel to [insert interesting statistics here].
We can apply this on your channel so you can [insert a believable goal here].
If that is something you want to achieve as well, invite me again.
It’s rejection with class, grace, and a bit of intrigue.
Some will reply with a boosted fixed pricing. Some don’t.
For this one client, he used the Connect > Call > Proposal > Paid (CCPP) Process and he tried closing on the call, but the then prospect hit him with a discount.
Mang Inasar replied, “Give me a night to think it over.”
The next day, he invited him to a call again. This time, he widened the gap between where the prospect currently is now and where he wants to be.
He talked about the benefits of hiring him.
And it’s not just him.
Rey, an email copywriter for B2B businesses has a different approach on closing premium deals on the same platform…
He still used the same CCPP process and closed the client on the call.
And if you think it only works for marketers…
Jireh, a Project Manager, was able to close a $4,000 monthly deal on Upwork too.
So if you’re wondering if it’s applicable to other freelancing sites like FreeUp, Onlinejobs.ph and Freelancer.com.
Mon Espiritu, an email copywriter, closed two $3,200 projects in OnlineJobs.ph using the (same) CCPP process.
The takeaway: Freelancing sites can be a good source of high-paying clients if you can identify the pain points of your prospects, offer a solution on how to solve it, and make them feel that the investment they’ll place on you will be nothing compared to the value that you can bring to their business. Master this 10% freelancing rule and you’ll never be without a premium client ever again.
#9 – Basically anywhere
Now this might not make total sense for right now, but prospects can be literally anywhere…
It is hard to comprehend, so it’s best to let these stories shed light on this.
Marilyn Marquez-Palmares, Property Manager
Client: Somebody she ran into outside a condo
Before anything else, here’s what Marilyn does.
She helps property entrepreneurs (those who own condos and housing units) increase their profits through social media marketing. She’s known as the AirBnb Queen inside the TRIBE.
Back to the story…
She met this prospect outside her condo.
She was actually on her way to fix a condo unit for her first guest ever…
And at that time, she was carrying bedding, towels, and toiletries.
The prospect was actually someone she met when she was working in Malaysia.
So after she checked in the guest, she went to the prospect’s unit to catch up. Their conversation led to Marilyn’s asking if the prospect is letting anyone rent the unit.
The prospect opened up about her struggle of finding someone trustworthy who can help her manage the unit.
This is an opportunity for Marilyn to offer her services.
And just like that, she got this as her 2nd client on the spot—no contract needed.
After that 2nd client, Marilyn found herself inside the TRIBE.
And that’s the start of her income increasing faster than she expected (reaching up to 6 figures on good months)…
This inspired her to make her property managing stint a real freelancing business.
As to where she sees herself from there?
Marilyn isn’t the only one who managed to score clients from the most unexpected places.
Julian found clients inside a car not only once, but twice. In 2 separate occasions…
Irene first met his client inside a bar.
And Tisya just managed to sell FB advertising to her derma doctor!
And she didn’t even know how to do FB Ads, she simply outsourced it to someone who does.
Now here’s the most interesting places of all—a dating app.
They say you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure, but Jan obviously knows something that we don’t.
I know you’re still curious, so here’s more meat to the story.
But Jan is unstoppable…
She even got a second project from that potential dating partner turned client.
Like any business badass who follows the smell of success, Jan is off exploring another dating platform…
So all’s fair in love and business, I guess?
The takeaway: The key item here is to think about freelancing as a business. When you do, everyone you interact with instantly becomes a potential business client.
Never run out of places to find prospects again
Now that we’ve shared 9 unconventional places where you can start looking, you can probably think of a hundred other places where you can do your client prospecting.
But before you go ahead, here are a few reminders:
- Anybody can be good sources for prospects. Your past officemates may have some business that they need help with. Your friend may know someone who does need your help. And your immediate family may just be an untapped referral source.
- Work with your fellow freelancers instead of competing with them. Fellow freelancers prove to be a great source of not just leads but information that could take your freelance business to the next level. Plus, you can work on collaboration projects that can demand bigger pay.
- Asking for referrals is one simple way of growing your freelancing business faster. Satisfied clients will happily introduce you to their colleagues, friends, and even exclusive network who need your help.
- Keep in touch with prospects who haven’t availed of your service. They can give you referrals, introduce you to their community or even hire you when they’re ready.
- Find a community whom you can connect with. It’s the first step to making an impact while scaling your freelancing business. Like the old saying goes, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go farther, go together”,
- If you haven’t built your prospect list yet, then start building it now. Having a list (especially a warm list) gives you more control of your freelancing business.
- Use your social media profiles to spread your freelancing brand, build your authority, and connect with your network. Prospects will easily find you there.
- Freelancing sites are surprisingly good sources of high-quality leads if you know the core freelancing strategies. Don’t totally ignore them.
- You can meet a prospect anywhere. So it helps if you have your elevator pitch ready anytime.
And that’s it!
If you’d like to know at least 8 more ways to get in front of your prospective clients…