(Help!) Looking for advice on my strategy for finding new freelance clients

Hi Indie Hackers!

I’m looking for ideas and advice about how and where to promote my freelance professional software services.

I mostly do backend systems like APIs, cloud services integrations, workflow automation and some jamstack website building.

I see a lot of Wordpress site development jobs but it seems to me that my target client would be building something a bit more involved like a SaaS.

Things I’ve done:

I am seeing a bit of an increase in traffic to the site, but nothing earth shattering.

I’m a developer at heart so the marketing and promotion side of things isn’t second nature to me yet.

Do I have the right approach?

What other activities and what other places do you recommend to find new clients that are building backend systems?

  1. 4

    Hey Mark 👋

    It's good you're exploring different ways to drive traffic to your site. I imagine some of these, like the blog, may take a while to gain momentum.

    I've found that my biggest source of work as a Freelance UX Designer has been my professional network and word of mouth. Just reaching out to people I've worked with in the past and letting them know I am available for freelance work has worked wonders.

    I did have a look at your website and had a few thoughts for you to consider:

    • I didn't realise you had more content than the homepage at first. I assumed the icons were links to social, email etc. I didn't realise you had a page with information about your services. There are a few reasons for this:

      • You don't have a navigation on the homepage (although it's visible on the other pages)
      • The text "Freelance Web Developer, Consultant & Automation Engineer" isn't clear that it's a call to action. It looks more like a strapline.
      • The dotted underline style is often used for abbreviations, so it didn't look like a link.
    • It's not obvious how to contact you to make an enquiry. A link to a contact page on all pages could be helpful here and a clear call to action to enquire on key pages (such as services) could also help.

    • The site feels difficult to navigate. This is in part because the site feels disconnected and inconsistent in places. The navigation differs and dissapears. The homepage feels as if it changes (from the mountain landing page to the about page to the blog page).

    I think a few of these changes could make it easier for people to browse the content on your site.

    1. 1

      Nice offer. How relevant is it now?

      1. 1

        Your strategy can succeed if you turn to some valuable tools. I'm going to tell you about one of the most basic ones that got me off to a good start. To be more specific, it is closely related to France Phone Book, which has many advantages over picking and finding freelancers. I've been familiar with this industry for over two years and understand how things work, so my advice will be able to help you with the query you're experiencing at the moment. If you are still experiencing it, you will definitely find it to be an effective tool.

    2. 1

      I’ve added a contacts page, updated the about page, updated the nav with contacts and RSS feed, added a bolded enquiry link at the bottom of every page.

      The dotted link on the homepage is a bit tricky to update at the minute, so I’ll get to that later.

      If you have a second it would be very cool if you could have another look to see if it’s a bit clearer now. If you’re busy, no worries, I’m already much happier with it.

      1. 1

        Definitely a step in the right direction. And adding a call to action at the bottom of the page is a great addition, when people are driven to a blog post, for example, they now have an onward journey.

        I did question what to expect on the "Contacts" page. The pluralisation changes its meaning slightly, it sounds a bit like a list of contacts (like a phone book). Perhaps changing to "Contact" or a stronger call-to-action such as "Contact Me" may be better here?

    3. 1

      @austerberry thanks for taking the time to look at my website, I really appreciate the feedback.

      Yeah the site is a bit disjointed, it’s a collection of standalone sites on several subdomains rather than all in one place.

      That’s an architectural decision I made a while ago, and would be difficult to change now without breaking lots of links. In the future I’m hoping to redesign so there is a more common theme between the sites.

      My idea with the homepage was that people would click the job title link, so it’s really great to know that it doesn’t look like a link! Thank you. I’ve been looking at it so long I didn’t even realise it was a dotted underline. I’m going to update it to look more like a link and I might also add the non link text “About me: “ before the link. Hopefully the contrast will make it more clear that there is a link to be clicked.

      You make a fair point about it not being clear how to contact me. That’s what the about page was for, but it’s grown over the years and though my email is in there it’s drowned out by the rest of the text. A separate contacts page is a good idea, especially because then it’s clear just from glancing at the navigation where to get my contact details. So I’ll probably add that, though in the short term I’ll just bolden the email address on the about page so it stands out.

      Thanks again, that was super helpful of you :)

  2. 1

    Are you looking to hire any freelancers. Thank you.

    1. 1

      Not at the minute, I’m mostly looking for clients, but that could change, email me your portfolio and I will keep you in mind for future projects.

      1. 1


        Thank you.I have sent the email.

  3. 1

    Along with writing on Linkedin, try to comment on other post related to your skill-set. And same goes for other social media platform. It build the repo and also more people will see your profile.

    1. 1

      So you mean search for posts on these platforms using relevant hashtags/keywords then reply to those posts?

        1. 1

          I didn’t know Google had a forms tool, that’s pretty cool.

          Google Forms

  4. 1

    have you tried hitting up your network to see if they have a friend of a friend that would need your services ?
    Also, if you went to college, you can use LinkedIn to find the alumni who work for companies you think might be a good fit for your services and just send them a quick message to tell them how you think you could help them.

    1. 1

      I have been posting to LinkedIn, but no interest so far.

      I feel like the type of freelance work I am looking todo is usually done by in-house devs, rather than freelancers.

      The alumni idea is pretty good.

  5. 1

    Shameless plug..but checkout wannahireme.com . You can add a hire me button to your side projects. prospective clients can find you through wannahireme page where you can list your various links from fiverr, upwork etc..also links to your work from sites like github, codepen, dribble etc..

    1. 1

      Nice looking product.

      Your feedback form is hosted by Google Docs? How does that work?

      1. 1

        yeah..I just used google forms for feedback and feature requests..it's simple and I didn't want to spend development creating a feedback form..

        1. 1

          Where does the data end up? In Google Sheets?

          1. 1

            there is that option...I also just see individual responses...

    2. 1

      No problem, it’s a relevant product to the discussion. Thanks

  6. 1

    Use your phone.
    And call them.

    We tried a lot. Postings, newsletters, emails, Xing ...

    What worked was an cold email over promising followed by a call which resulted in a in person meeting. The email purpose was to get attention.

    Getting the first customers is almost always a numbers game.
    It took us over 100 attempts.

    1. 1

      I like the simplicity of this email then call technique.

      How long did you usually leave between the two steps?

      What was the 1 key thing in your email that made the call more likely to be successful?

      1. 1

        1 or 2 days.
        We kept it short to not overload the visitor with a link to our homepage.
        Take a look.

        It's in German and not really good which shows that the in person calls and meetings make the difference.

        1. 1

          I don’t speak German, but it’s a nice looking landing page. Much better looking than mine, though perhaps we are targeting very different clients.

          What type of work do you offer and what type of clients was the landing page designed to convert?

  7. 1

    When I did freelancing, all my work always came from recommendations or people knowing me for doing 'testing', it never really came from a testing community, it came from hanging out in web design type places, or from also running a local coworking space.

    So, you could hang out in a 'design' community and let yourself be known as a developer, contribute to conversations, etc. Then when designers need a developer you have a higher chance they will seek you out as you will be one of the few people in that community.

    Replace 'design' with anything, 'product management', for example.

    1. 1

      I can see how some sort of part time job in a related area could be a good thing todo. It’s not something I had considered because I’m so used to being fulltime that that option hadn’t occurred to me. Also just nice for social aspects and variety. Great suggestion, thanks @rosiesherry !

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