Freelancing: How did you get your first client?

almost 6 years ago from , Consultant

I'd like to start a discussion on how everyone got their first client. It's so difficult to start out and I think we could collectively help newcomers. So! How did you find your first client?

Bonus question. Were they your ideal client?


  • Ian WilliamsIan Williams, almost 6 years ago

    First client was my friend's dad. Made a website for his refrigeration company for $100. I thought he might not want to pay me that much ;)


    5 points
    • , almost 6 years ago

      That's a common hesitation. I'm curious to know how much business they got from their website. That might be difficult to quantify accurately, but it should be pretty easy to know if sales went up or not especially if they ask their clients "How'd you hear about us?".

      0 points
    • Adam RasheedAdam Rasheed, almost 6 years ago

      That's a really good first site!

      1 point
    • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, almost 6 years ago

      Yup - dad's business, dad's friend's business, then followed by my personal business relations created while working at a full-time job.

      I hardly freelance now, because I hold a full-time job (in reality a fair few hours more than full-time) as well as dedicating my spare time to personal projects instead.

      0 points
  • Yuming Cheung, almost 6 years ago

    My first client was referred from a friend who was a broker of many illustrators. She planned marketing activities for the illustrators and website is one of them.

    I decided to do the job because the client wanted to have a website with his illustrations in VR. It was really cool.


    2 points
  • David SvezhintsevDavid Svezhintsev, almost 6 years ago

    Our first client was a friend of my business partner. Client is a photographer and my business partner worked with him before on a lot of projects with the client: http://www.amatucciphotography.com/

    But, we're struggling to find clients past "Friends & Family". Our friends list is not that big and our family members are not that rich haha.

    2 points
    • , almost 6 years ago

      What have you tried so far?

      0 points
      • David SvezhintsevDavid Svezhintsev, almost 6 years ago

        We're planing to do social media outreach and constant content posts and target email campaigns. I might make a article about this with the results and workflow that we used... Will see the results first.

        0 points
    • Jake CooperJake Cooper, almost 6 years ago

      Same here, it's also challenging when your friends and family are also designers or illustrators, so they often don't need you to do a job when they can do it themselves.

      0 points
      • David SvezhintsevDavid Svezhintsev, almost 6 years ago

        Agreed. Tim Ferris said: “A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”

        1 point
  • Ross Simmonds, almost 6 years ago

    Relationships are key.

    I've landed the majority of my clients at events and from referrals. When you're looking to land your first client, consider attending local events where your target audience will be.

    For example, if you're focused on designing logos - why not attend a local startup event where you know there will be a group of people who are just starting their business in attendance? If you're focused on web design - why not attend a local real estate event and build relationships with realtors who need a new web site?

    The majority of the people at these events will be Realtors or founders. So by not being like everyone else, you'll actually be a unicorn who everyone wants to connect with and learn from. Embrace this differentiation.

    1 point
  • Cristian MoiseiCristian Moisei, almost 6 years ago

    I started by doing contests on a site called http://hatchwise.com some 7 years ago and the first 'client' was when I won a contest there and the guy needed some extra work afterwards. It was $150 for a poster after dozens of projects where I didn't get paid, but it was a good way to get practice considering I didn't need the money at 17.

    1 point
  • Sagi ShrieberSagi Shrieber, almost 6 years ago

    I wrote a full article about that (just shared it to DN): The same method that worked for me to get my first clients was the same method I used to launch 2 design communities. Good luck to everyone out there looking for their first client! Go get 'em!


    1 point
  • Katharina H., almost 6 years ago

    My first client was also on 99designs. I started out working as an illustrator which gave me a starting point to apply for internships at an agency. Nowadays it's mostly referrals and friends.

    0 points
  • Mike MarkoglouMike Markoglou, almost 6 years ago

    My first client was my uncle. He is a small beekeeper. I told him he has more chances to become rich if I make a logo and new stickers for his honey cases.

    I knew I needed a sort of portfolio and although I was just in design school I am still proud of the result. :D

    I even put it on my Dribbble! https://dribbble.com/shots/3032481-Logo-Meli-Olympou-Honey

    PS I got unlimited honey and a 100 Euro tip :)

    0 points
  • Chris KalaniChris Kalani, almost 6 years ago

    You should read this post by Marc Hemeon: https://medium.com/@hemeon/how-to-quote-and-land-a-project-on-design-inc-b5db8377320d — Really sound advice.

    0 points
  • A Paul, almost 6 years ago

    99designs LOL. I won a logo contest, and then they contacted me after asking if I also do other types of design, and then we ended up working together for a couple years.

    0 points
  • Jay RJay R, almost 6 years ago

    I actually worked for 3 months straight as an intern (for free) until the Creative Director of the company liked my work and hired me for some of his projects as a Visual Designer. I ended up getting paid 150$ for two days of work and got a very well reputed international company on my portfolio. He eventually became one of my mentors.

    0 points
  • Juan OlveraJuan Olvera, almost 6 years ago

    I googled "web design houston" and sent an email to the first 200 results asking if they needed help.

    I got like three responses only, but two of them were my biggest clients for the next two years. I was able to do a living with only with them for like six months.

    The next thing I did was to post an ad in craiglist (I know, I know), I got a lot of BS offers but I was able to get one good client from there.

    So at that point I had two big clients and one mid-size client. The there weren't a one website job, they were web design agencies doing a lot of websites that needed someone to do quick fixes for clients and build some quality sites from scratch from time to time.

    80% was CSS fixes and 20% building sites from scratch.

    After some time I managed to get some endorsements for my skills in Linkedin, that slowly started to get me some other gigs, and full time job offers, which is where I am right now.

    0 points