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I've been freelancing since June 2013 and haven't been able to find work in all that time.

I'm very short on funds so I'm sticking to free online classifieds but I haven't had so much as a nibble from any of my ads.

I've got a facebook page and twitter account that I'm relatively active on, but I'm not getting any likes/follows... My website is also SEO'd up the wazoo and despite getting dozens of hits daily, I'm not getting any business...

I'm offering software development services using the Microsoft .NET Framework (both Visual Basic and C# programming languages) and web design/development using asp.NET, wordpress, php, jquery, css3, html5, etc.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • What is your area of expertise? The advice you get back from the group will probably be a lot more helpful if it can be tailored to better fit your situation. – TeresaMcgH Jan 3 '14 at 16:49
  • @TeresaMcgH I've updated the question to include the services I'm offering. It basically covers everything I have knowledge and experience in – Ortund Jan 3 '14 at 18:28
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    Have you tried using freelancing sites like odesk? They are good for startup and you may be able to find clients in your vicinity. Having a website among other similar zillions websites is useless. You have to take action either on FL sites or opening a phonebook of your area and start calling potential clients arranging meetings and offering your services. – Peter MV Jan 6 '14 at 7:41
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The best way to find work is to go where your best customers will be. You've described the kind of service you can provide, but you haven't focused at all (at least in your question) about the type of customer you want to work for. Consider the following:

  • Is your best customer local or anywhere? (Local makes a lot of legal and payment things easier and allows you to work onsite, non-local complicates these things and may mean remote only work)
  • How big is your best customer? (Are they small or large?)
  • What market segment is your best customer in? (Private? Government? Non-profit? Industry specific?)
  • etc.

You may think you are better off not answering these questions or saying "all" to them, but actually it is better to come up with real answers to these questions. Different clients will look for freelancers in different ways. For example:

I provide similar services to you (.NET, mostly ASP.NET). I work only with small, local tech-savvy companies. These organizations typically look for freelance programmers via their network and via Google. So I use 3 marketing strategies:

  • I keep in regular contact with my network and have lunch/coffee/whatever with them to let them know when I am looking for new work.
  • I joined my local chamber of commerce so I am regularly meeting a lot of small business owners.
  • I occasionally use Google Adwords.

For other types of customers, you may need other approaches. Here are some other things worth considering:

  • Working with a third party firm.
  • Attending user groups / code camps / etc. and networking.
  • Joining industry specific groups.
  • Using some kind of freelance site for finding work.
  • Contacting colleagues and asking for referrals.
  • Contacting former clients and asking for work.

But again - this will largely depend on what kind of customer/projects you are interested in. It is better to narrow your focus because then you can properly put effort into a couple of key strategies, instead of throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. You want to look very attractive to the type of customer that you want to work for, and a scattershot approach won't make you look attractive, it will make you look desperate.

6

I had similiar issues in my freelance Resume service back when i was running it. My answer would be to check out Guerrilla Marketing for free.

My other suggestion would be, Pound The Pavement. If you can create software and webdesign, start hitting up small businesses.

Restaurants? Create a "package deal" where you would create a small website that lists their location, menu, fun facts, etc. Offer in the package to include them on yelp and other social sites. If it's relevant (ie: delivery, reservations) offer to create an app, (if you are able) for them for those types of services.

Local sportscard/Comic Book/ etc... offer a website package that can link to a database that would have their items on hand. You could even create a "barcode" program that would link to their database and autopost on the website.

Heck, if you have time, pull up their website, redesign it, and then take in your mock up to the owner and tell them what you can do. I've found that small biz owners need tangible proof their website is horrible compared to a pro's.

My only warning would be: DO NOT WORK FOR THEM FOR FREE, NOR OFFER STRICT DISCOUNTS.

They'll say "you already made the site" why not give it to me for half. Advise them that's just visual, and doesn't have code needed to run properly.

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I'm seeking software development work -- all types except .NET -- on job boards. I seem to be inundated with potential clients that you could service. (I cannot because I have no experience with .NET.)

As you haven't mentioned job boards, I think they could be your answer: workopolis, monster, linkedin, craigslist, etc.

If you become active on some of the job boards, you will be approached by agencies/recruiters about contract work.

And there's the meta search job sites -- indeed, eluta, simplyhired, etc -- that search the web for you. They too will find agencies/recruiters having contract work.

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    Also - dice.com :) – Xavier J Feb 6 '14 at 16:24
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You can make an agreement with a salesperson and offer them a portion of profit. This is a lot easier and you can concentrate on your work rather than social relations.

Main advantage of this approach is you won't promise a profit to someone which you don't have, so it is better than hiring a salesperson. It may seem a little bit "I am doing all the work, why would I share my profit" but being able to attract customers, have a good relation with them, getting feedbacks and most importantly convincing them is actually a talent and takes time.

Convincing part is most important because as you are a freelancer, you probably won't have some kind of contract. And some customers tend to give up at the end of the project, start to request many nonsenseble things to delay pay date. An experienced salesperson is usually good at managing these type of things, because he/she will do this for also himself/herself.

Finally, it has a motivation part, you will feel like a team and will be able to more projects.

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I would say that you started on the right track. Asking questions on discussion boards gets you acquainted with peers in the freelancing world that could give you suggestions and possible project referrals - which you can make intelligent choices from.

If you've never started on any freelance project before, the challenge lies on what you could possibly show your potential client to have enough confidence in you to do the work. Yes, your skills maybe impeccable and you could commit yourself to an excellent output. However, you're going to have to show something to your prospects to prove it. Your communication and interpersonal skills [during an interview or a meeting] would come in handy. If you cannot impress them with the skills in your profile, then get their trust with how you present yourself in a discussion. Clients would love to hear more about what you can do in details.

The suggestion to start building your reputation on a freelancing platform can help, too. Create a profile on popular freelancing channels and bid on a job advert you believe you could make wonders at. A lot of clients in those platforms are willing to give "entry-level" freelancers a chance. I'm sure you've told to be careful about bidding on projects though. Yes, usually, clients will have a brief background of what they are about on their job adverts. Platforms like Elance and oDesk also show how far they are within the site: how many contractors they have hired, how much they paid, and how trusted their are as described in their feedback comments and scores. You'll pretty much have an idea who you want to work with.

And as you said, you already have your website up and running (optimised and all), a little more perseverance is strongly suggested. You can't just be all over the World Wide Web as it's way too big for you. Discover where your kind of expertise hangs around and stay with them for a while until you get prospects. Listen to what your peers talk about by saving a few links to blogs, social media profile, and discussion boards. This will not only help you find prospects but will also update what you think you already know.

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