I am working as a Software Engineer, but I want to add to my pay by freelancing. What is the best way to find clients in my own city? I am open to doing small projects (like for schools or small businesses), but how do I ask them if they want any projects when they are not advertising anything?

How do I approach people in this situation?


8 Answers 8


About Me: I used to work as a Operations Manager with a BPO 4 years ago but I realized that if I worked from home, I would earn triple the salary that I was getting as an OM. So one day, I finally decided to take the plunge and start my own freelancing venture.

Now when I look back, I am happy that I took that plunge...

Lot of books will tell you what needs to be done but honestly none of those helped me 4 years ago when I decided to start my own.

If you are really serious in becoming a freelancer, here are some unconventional tips which comes from experience. My advice is based on KISS which is "KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID"

  1. Please, please, please do not waste your time reading books/success stories etc on how to make money.
  2. Decide what kind of freelancing stuff you want to get into. The market is huge and you will get tempted in the beginning to get into everything. Don't jump into any job that you get.
  3. Get a website and official email address of your own.
  4. Understand whether you want to tap the local, national or the international market. Your advertising would drastically depend on this later. I decided to get into the International Market and the reason was very simple. I didn't have to drive down to a clients office to start any project. My strategy was to invest as little as possible in the beginning.
  5. The best business is the business where you do not have to invest anything or have minimum investment and reap maximum profits. Initially register yourself on sites like Freelancer.com, odesk.com, elance.com etc and start bidding on projects. Create a small basic proposal which you can attach with every bid. This proposal tells the client as to why they should give the project to you and not to anyone else. For the first couple of projects do not think of earning. Build your testimonials and continuously update your proposals to include that.
  6. Lot of people take the testimonials very lightly. Never do that. They are sure shot indicators of your freelancing graph looks like at the end of the day. Here is an example. More than 112 projects (ALL with 5 star ratings). Imagine the impact it creates when I submit a proposal to a client. So build your testimonials.
  7. Once you have established yourself as a worthy competitor (might take 6 months to a year), now is the time to fully stretch your wings. You MAY now read books/Online tutorials on how to setup your own company.

If you still need any help, you can contact me and I would be more than glad to get you started... like I have done with others in the past.

  • 1
    how can I contact you? You have skype?
    – zzzzz
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 5:32
  • Check the link in my profile :) Commented May 29, 2013 at 9:57
  • First point of this answer essentially means I shouln't read it... Commented Oct 11, 2017 at 15:15

You need to learn to market yourself, and evaluate their needs. When I did sales for an international copier company, we were taught about SPIN selling: S ituation, P roblem Analysis, I mplication, N eeds Payoff. See below:

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What does all this mean?

The Situation is knowing that something needs to be done; but what? We need to find out what the Problem being faced is. We then need to show the client the Implication of having this problem, even if they don't realize it's a problem right now. Then, the Needs Payoff describes what you can do to fix this problem for them.

This is just a brief summary, but I would recommend reading a book about it called Spin Selling by Neil Rackham, as it goes into GREAT detail about selling, even if you don't know what you have to sell.


I am a freelancer making a success with web design now, but I struggled originally. I released why after 6 months, and subsequently made it my new years resolution:

Stop thinking. Start doing.

I spent far too long think "I need to reply to that" or "I will do that tomorrow". In the end I had a big backlog and became frustrated. This lost me clients and stopped me getting new ones.

If you are anything like me you won't have any/much money for advertising, so do these things to promote your self:

  1. Get a decent website. They really don't cost the earth
  2. Figure out what you're doing. Too many people are freelancers in a million different talents
  3. Focus on what you're doing, get good at it
  4. Do it for free. Hair dressing? Do your friends hair. Web designing? Do it for that charity round the corner
  5. Shout to family and friends you are doing what you're doing
  6. Now start advertising (for free): ring your local paper, get a news story out there. Ring the newspaper in the town over
  7. List your site on Facebook, Directories such as Yell
  8. Friends who have their own company? List on their website, pull favours
  9. Go to networking events, they can be tedious but you can find some genuine people
  10. Get some business cards printed (you can even get free ones) always have them on you you never know where you will meet someone
  11. Its hard: put yourself in the limelight. I will go in and talk to shop owners who I think I could genuinely help, but think about it: don't go on a Saturday when they are busy, be friendly don't try too hard. Think outside the box: we had heavy snow a few months ago: there was no one out shopping and it was a perfect opportunity to speak to shop owners.
  12. Keep thinking. Everywhere you go think "can I promote here?" "can I help them?"

As someone else has said: don't read "My Success Story" or "Make money quick" if you are good at what you do (and Stop Thinking. Start Doing.) you will soon find that the word spreads and you'll grow.


The most important thing is to find contacts, get to know them, and make sure they know you are around. Getting involved in the chamber of commerce and other organizations are good ways to help ensure that everyone knows you are around. Don't expect anything immediately. Just focus on building your professional network. Consider approaching these individuals for marketing research and otherwise keeping both of you thinking about how you can help eachother.

The simple fact is that when you are self-employed, everything you do is marketing. For example, this post is in part marketing myself and my abilities to the self-employed community. That may seem somewhat afield from what you are looking at, but it shouldn't be. Here I am being helpful and increasing my visibility among a possible set of contacts who might even bring me business one day. You can do the same in social circles if you are selective about them.

The second thing you can do is make a list of your current friends and such and approach them about your new venture, and see if any of them have ideas. They may not be interested in hiring you but they may have feedback, or may even know someone who does need it. The more people know what you are doing, the more work will come your way.


When I moved to a new city last year I joined a few groups relevant to my industry on Meetup and started going along and meeting people. This way I quickly built up a network of fellow freelancers and it wasn't long before we were referring jobs to each other and working together on client projects.

I hesitate to use the work 'networking' because it sounds rather cold and impersonal but, in my experience as a freelancer, there's no better way to find work than to go out and meet people face to face.


Get involved in the tech community. Find a local user group for the languages/platforms you are proficient in and propose to do a talk. Someone in the crowd has a need and you'll be the perfect fit.


You can get by

  1. Advertisement on news paper
  2. Contact directly to college and company you think they might need or useful for them
  • Registering yourself with local services like justdial won't hurt either.
    – jayantS
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 12:49

While you can market yourself by following the advice on some great answers in this thread (e.g. establishing your presence in your local area). I suggest to take a step back and if you really want to limit yourself your city.

I say this because unless you live in a metropolitan area with a big tech sector, the majority of work you should be getting won't be in your own city.

Luckily, this is 2016 and you can easily market yourself to clients in other states or even countries. I confidently say this because over 60% of my income last year came from out-of-state clients.

There short-term and long-term methods to get clients that aren't in your immediate area:

Short Term

  • Watching Job boards that have openings for freelancers smashingmagazine.com, github.com, and even stackexchange.com all have amazing job boards that often have listings for freelance or contract positions.
  • Making a List of companies you want to get hired by, researching the employees there and finding the person who can make the decision to hire you as a consultant or contractor, and reaching out to him/her.

Long Term

  • Using the jobs you've been getting from the methods above to obtain amazing testimonials and case studies and leveraging them to even better jobs
  • Encouraging referrals through your current clients. Remember to ask them to recommend you to others at every step of your transaction with them.
  • Determine a good online marketing campaign by experimenting with: PPC ads, email marketing, and retargeting campaigns to acquire a steady stream of leads and clients through paid means.

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