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With my experience on freelancing sites, I found that referrals and repeating work with a client are never enough to keep you busy.

I have seen many people here claim they have never worked on freelancing sites and get work directly from clients. How do people like this find new clients? In cases where they get referrals from clients, how did they manage to get their first client?

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3 Answers 3

Business networking and word-of-mouth are the primary ways I receive clients. My connections established in this manner have always resulted in clients with considerable repeat business and an overwhelming amount of referrals.

I've never found any need to seek clients through online crowd sourcing sites. I find the impersonal connection to be more harmful than anything. Business to business is a much better model than business-middleman-business in my opinion. People like working with people... not web sites.

To get connections you need to be in places where connections exist, - local chamber of commerce, business gatherings, industry functions, etc.

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The key to finding clients is to understand where your best clients will be, and then go there.

Thus the answer to your question depends largely on the kind of work you do, the kinds of customers you are interested in serving, and the types of projects that you want to do.

For example: I am a freelance ASP.NET developer. I have decided my BEST clients are small organizations (< 50 employees), where I work directly with the owner. These organizations are typically for profit, and are local to my area (so I don't have to worry about finding them if they don't pay up.)

These customers tend to hire freelancers because they don't want the overhead of a consulting firm. They look for freelancers in their network, and they may do their own google search to find resources also.

Thus, the best ways for me to find clients has been via referrals, and occasionally using very targeted local Google Ad Words. In 11+ years of freelancing, I am rarely slow for very long.

Your situation may be different. If you want to work with larger companies, they may prefer to work through intermediaries. They may only hire organizations on "approved" lists. Some industries have trade groups that could provide a good "in".

In short, you need to determine the attributes of your "best" clients, and then figure out how they would look for you and also where they will likely be. Then go there.

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As other said, it's a continuous process in which you have to be based onto building good relations, but also producing a quality output. Be a "man" and not an "as****e" who only wants one-time profit and will screw his client.

Nothing will sell you more than quality product which is capable of earning money to your client. No matter if he never thought of offering you another project, eventually he will either offer you a new project or merge with another person into new project or simply recommend you.

Also you have to be a man of word: if you promised something, do that even you had to work each weekend. Then be communicative and update the guy who is bringing you money.

In the end, it's a long process where for the next 2 years you may have only a couple of clients, and then the next year 20 clients. Freelancing is a strenuous process and many will try, but only few will stick to it and succeed.

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