Today we answer a common question we’ve been getting from the community: “What we would each do if we were starting a freelance business from scratch again?”. This was a really fun episode, where we each discussed what we would do in our first week if we were starting a new freelance business today. We get into the dread of cold-calling, the power of referrals, how to become a specialist, offering value, and using the power of social media to attract your initial clients.



Show Notes for This Episode:

[1.00] What is our advice for freelancers starting out?
[1.40] Lisa picked up the Yellow Pages and cold called!
[2.30] How Lisa transitioned from full-time to freelance
[3.40] Why it was tougher in the past, without social media
[4.50] Finding the motivation to break out of your comfort zone finding clients
[5.45] How to keep faith when struggling to find clients
[6.30] Why direct communication is the most effective
[7.15] Why your ‘conversion rate’ matters when pitching for business
[8.30] Why people hire people they like
[9.20] Why human relationships matter so much in business
[10.20] How Tom used local connections to get the ball rolling
[10.50] Referrals then start to kick in
[11.20] How Lisa just referred her developer for us
[11.50] Ian didn’t put himself out there, but still got work
[12.50] How Ian used link-backs to attract new clients
[13.30] Don’t burn bridges, as older companies can often pass on work
[14.30] Building up a web with strands to potentially reach new clients
[15.15] Sticking with what feels comfortable to you
[16.55] How Ian still to this day gets client requests from older work
[17.15] Why designers are in demand
[18.30] We don’t even know many designers who are available! This makes it easier to get referrals.
[19.00] Paul Jarvis making a name for himself to attract referrals
[20.00] A great business development opportunity for designers
[21.00] How Dustin has a mutually beneficial friendship with another designer
[22.00] Word of mouth and recommendations are the highest converting way of attracting new clients
[22.50] Stand out by offering something of value (without pitching your services)
[23.50] Tom’s story of how he offered free consultations, and his tips for how to replicate this technique
[25.30] The importance of putting yourself out there in the right places
[26.15] How Dustin stood out by combining two things he was great at, to find one thing he was best at
[27.00] How to niche down to attract early clients more easily
[28.00] Becoming a specialist, to make your services more attractive to potential clients
[29.15] Dustin’s experience of hiring a specialist
[30.30] Ian’s experience of developing a specialist style in his lettering
[31.30] Focusing on what’s in demand in your local area (Lisa’s experiences)
[32.15] Why local can be easier than global when you’re starting out attracting clients
[32.50] Defining your ideal client (who you can realistically attract)
[33.30] Quick fire round – What Lisa would do is she started out today
[35.00] If Tom started out (he would ignore the ‘fancy’ work that didn’t make money early on)
[36.30] Why the business cards, and the ‘brand image’ aren’t so important early on
[37.10] What Dustin would do starting out (guest blogging and providing value)
[39.30] Why you need to be sincere and contribute value, rather than spamming people
[41.00] What Ian would do starting out today (using his network of Facebook friends, using social media as a catalyst)
[42.00] Ian’s tip for defining the work you truly want to focus on, very early
[43.00] How Ian would post content from day-1 to build up an audience
[45.00] How we would all do what we actually did originally. But in a more focused, quicker way.
[45.30] Pay attention to what is working, and do more of it (plus Ian’s caveat on this)
[47.45] Why your level of discomfort is dependent on your time-frame to get work in the door
[48.40] How Lisa did the initial uncomfortable work, but then never had to worry about it again
[50.20] Don’t worry about business plans, just get moving!


“A must for every creative freelancer (or those aspiring to freelance). Thank you for being so… honest! Such a wealth of information from people I admire who have ‘been there and done that’. Listening to the podcast every week feels like I’m among friends. Can’t wait for more episodes!”AG_GD