So you’ve decided to go remote. Congratulations!
We’ll go over how to find remote clients, but first you’ll need to decide what kind of setup you want. There are different ways to work remotely, from freelancer, independent contractor, entrepreneur, or remote employee.
Here’s a quick rundown of the differences.
- Freelancer – A professional who focuses on short-term, project-based work.
- Independent contractor – Can work like a freelancer, but typically works long-term with multiple clients.
- Entrepreneur – Runs their own business and can choose to do it remotely. This is common in e-commerce or SaaS founders.
- Remote employee – Usually a full-time employee under a company.
The setup you’re looking for will guide your job search.
Finding remote clients: 6 Tips to fill your client pipeline
1) Build a portfolio that matches your skillset
This is my top tip. Not only does it exude professionalism and help legitimize your work, it’s also a good way to showcase what you’ve done with case studies and testimonials!
There are different options based on what your specialization is. For example:
- If you want to build a design portfolio, take a look at Behance.
- If you’re a developer, code your own website.
- If you’re a writer or marketer, consider using Contently.
2) Provide value online by answering questions
Answer questions in your field on HARO, Quora, GitHub, Stack Overflow, Dribble, Inbound, and other places where you can both learn and educate others. There are a number of online communities where remote workers can tap into others’ insights and talents for projects.
We’ll talk more about communities later in this series.
3) Reach out to companies with distributed workforces
Keep your pulse on remote work news to stay informed about different remote-friendly companies.
Take a look at their careers pages to see if they’re hiring, and even if they aren’t reach out with a well-crafted cover letter to see if there could be an unlisted opportunity now or in the future.
I found two of my clients this way. One replied immediately and said they were thinking of bringing on a content marketer, and another client said no initially then circled back later.
Here’s an email outreach template you can use.
Subject: Collaboration opportunity with <brand>
I was checking out <brand>’s website and like your work in <industry>.
Are you looking for a <your role>? I’ve worked with clients in <industry> previously to <bring up some success stories>.
I’m attaching my resume for your reference, let me know if there’s an opportunity here!
Looking forward to it,
<Your email signature>
4) Use remote work job boards
Start sending out applications! NODESK has an excellent curated selection of remote work job boards, platforms, and marketplaces.
Here are a few to start with:
5) Ask for referrals
Take a look at your current clients and contacts. If you’ve worked with anyone who was remote, or may know a company looking for a remote worker, ask him or her to introduce you. Referrals are one of the best ways to land new clients, since your work comes with “social proof.”
6) Utilize your existing network to find potential clients
Go to learning events in the industries you’re in, make connections, and reach out to communities to see if there are opportunities to collaborate.
My first remote client was a marketing agency, whose founder I connected with at a local seminar for wine marketing.
Invest time connecting, even with casual professional touchpoints, on LinkedIn. This is also a good place to collect testimonials from your clients.
Tip: Try adding your profile URL to your email signature!
Closing remote client deals
After you’ve set yourself up to attract the clients you want, it’s time to talk about new client processes.
For qualified prospects, I recommend setting up a time to call, sending a Google Calendar invitation (with a Hangouts link), and discussing their brand and your skills on the call.
Know your desired hourly rate, salary, or project rate before getting on that call. BeeWits has a good hourly rate calculator you can use for this.
Here’s what to go over during that initial meeting:
- An overview of your potential client’s brand and pain points
- Your background and skills (bring in case studies if applicable)
- What success would look like for this collaboration (ie. deliverables)
- Your hourly rate, or, if needed, a note that you will send a quote in your follow-up email
- Any additional questions
After the call, be sure to send a follow-up email. Here’s a quick template that I use.
Subject: <Your name> + <company> <date> meeting recap
Thanks again for your time today. It was great learning more about <brand> and discussing your pain points. Below, please find a recap of what we discussed and next steps.
If you would like to continue, my rate is <rate> and I’m available to begin work on <date> for <hours/week>.
For long-term clients, I request a 2-month trial period to gauge fit. I’ll check in after this period to assess our work together, and discuss goals and improvements.
Please send along any contracts and paperwork needed to get started.
I look forward to collaborating!
Note: I don’t usually require a deposit from my clients, but if you do, attach it to the email and mention it where you mention your rates.
The 2-month trial period might seem like a long time if you’re after a freelance project. Adjust the email template based on what works for you.
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