1

I'm starting as a freelance software developer. However, as I researched more about getting clients, I started having doubts about it.

Most companies have in-house developers. And not every company needs software. Doesn't this make it harder to get software clients?

I also looked a bit into getting clients as a designer (which I'm not) and I see that most companies don't need a full-time designer to design their logo, brand, etc. And most companies need a designer for their tasks. So, most companies go to outsourcing the tasks which I think makes it easier to find clients than the software dev one.

I'm confused about these now. I have a few questions going on my mind:

  1. What are some of the best ways to get software clients outside of freelancing platforms?
  2. Will cold email outreach work? If so, how may I do it?
  3. How to find companies to pitch/offer my software development services to?
  4. If finding dev clients is really harder, should I move myself to design (especially branding) and start over again as a designer?
  5. Any advice you can give me in this situation?

Any help would be much appreciated!

2
  • Do you have any work experience as a software developer?
    – morsor
    Feb 28, 2023 at 14:43
  • @morsor Yes, I have 3 years of experience, both full-time and contract. Feb 28, 2023 at 14:53

2 Answers 2

5

First off, every freelancer is different and will wind up with different strategies for getting new clients. (That is why questions like this might be closed as unanswerable.) The most important thing is to keep marketing and experimenting. Nearly every client I have came through a different method.

Secondly, companies do not want software. They want problems solved. You can offer custom software solutions to their problems. When simply trying to write software, I had a disconnect between what the customers wanted and what I wanted to talk about. When I talk about solving problems, I connect with potential customers and they understand.

Thirdly, you are correct in that a lot of companies have software developers in house already. And the new AI platforms are able to provide nearly equal quality as many software developers which will cut demand. However, there is a huge disconnect between how a salesperson views their problem and what is needed to have a coder write something that fixes part of their problem. Knowing how to take an idea from a salesperson and make it real is a very valuable skill.

Finally, the people you need to talk to at potential clients have insulated themselves from the general public. It takes a lot of work to contact them, gain their trust, find out what problems they have, and be able to propose a solution that they would accept. There is no one way to do that. Cold calls, cold emails, Linkin connections, networking groups, etc. are all starting points and many other people are using them. Marketing is a non-linear process meaning that efforts don't seem to get results until they do, and the results come in unexpected ways. Find a way that you are comfortable with and just keep at it.

3
  • 1
    +1: "Secondly, companies do not want software. They want problems solved." Absolutely true. Many (new) freelance developers over-focus on software delivery even though most clients could not care less what the tech stack is - as long as it solves problems without introducing new ones.
    – morsor
    Mar 1, 2023 at 7:18
  • Great sentence. By the way, would you please tell me what problems can I solve for the client if they want to offer a contract role? Mar 1, 2023 at 8:15
  • @MdNazmulHossain: Only the client knows what problems need to be solved. Your job is to always listen and propose your solutions when able to
    – morsor
    Mar 1, 2023 at 11:51
1

To add to the great answer @David-R: OP mentions several valid approaches to gaining new clients; cold-calling, emailing, using a third party.

These approaches are not mutually exclusive - so there is no reason to philosophize excessively over which approach might work best. When starting out, you need to do all to see what works for you.

I learned a lot cold-snail-mailing potential clients with a phone-follow-up - but eventually chose to delegate to a third party, as that made more sense financially and especially timewise.

Software developers are typically product-focused and see sales as an unavoidable annoyance - which it is in the beginning. But it's important to keep a very open mind towards gaining customers; the focus should be as broad as you can handle.

My personal experience was that selling a product one has an emotional attachment to (be it software or your own services) cold-calling was taxing, as every rejection may be taken personally. Ideally, a third party has less of an sentimental attachment and easilier ignores rejections and moves on. Whether this third party is a agency or a friend, matters less. Your task is finding out what works - without it necessarily being you doing the work.

3
  • Nice point. By the third party, do you mean hiring a person or agency? Would you please elaborate? Mar 1, 2023 at 8:14
  • @MdNazmulHossain: I've added an elaboration
    – morsor
    Mar 1, 2023 at 8:29
  • Thanks for your help! Mar 1, 2023 at 11:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.