This week, Bryce answers common (and not so common) questions about freelancing.
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Freelance FAQ: Where do I find my first clients?
Start with people you know.
Reach out to nearby businesses, especially if you have a positive relationship or a connection to someone higher up
Sign up for job boards and apply for jobs that you feel capable of tackling.
Join online groups related to your craft or services.
Market yourself in directories.
Reach out to job listings for full or part-time work related to your service and see if there’s a way you can help until they hire their permanent fix.
Work for free
Feedback from the Inferno: Where do I find my first clients?
(This segment originally premiered over at The Freelancers Union.)
I have a client that insists I do all my work at his office. He insists on this arrangement because he doesn’t really “trust web people.” He admits part of this is just not “getting it” – if I’m there, I can explain things, and he knows I’m honestly billing him for the time.
I really don’t like working at his office: it’s inconvenient to travel to and from there, I have to bring some of my equipment, and my client likes to breathe over my shoulder while I work.
The worst part about this over-my-shoulder work is that he’ll sometimes start to give me a massage. I’m not the only one he does this to, but it’s both literally and metaphorically uncomfortable.
How do I tell him to stop doing this without ruining the relationship?
– A real hands-on freelancer
The subject line of this email was “my clint likes to touch me - I do not.”
At first, I thought that was a lot of unsolicited information about a submitter’s uncomfortable relationship with a man named Clint, but boy did that stop being funny once I realized that was a spelling error.
I was unbelievably relieved to discover you’re both male and that this touching is seemingly non-sexual. It’s still 100% not okay that the client is doing this, but this dynamic could be far, far worse.
From what you wrote to me, it sounds like you have an out-of-touch-with-the-times client – both technologically and socially. And it sounds like you could do a better job of pushing back and making sure the working arrangement works for you.
Schedule a one-on-one meeting with your client to discuss how you work together. Decide beforehand where you draw the line. I suggest not working in that office altogether, but you can compromise on him simply respecting your personal space.
Do your research and prepare for this meeting. You should try and anticipate your client’s potential concerns, and you should have your reasons on standby.
For example, address why this client doesn’t trust “web people.” By now, you should have established a working relationship, so some trust should be there. If it’s simply a matter of hours, offer to use time-tracking software. If it’s due to a lack of understanding, ask if there’s a contact at the company who would better understand your deliverables – work that is mutually understood is much more likely to meet the client's goals effectively.
Whatever happens, don’t back down from where ever you drew the line. If all you’re going to push back on is the touching – and I encourage you to have more ambition than that – speak to how it makes you feel and try not to accuse or embarrass the client. Do this one on one, and be straightforward; it’s not okay that he was in your personal space, but it sounds like no one ever tried to course correct him, and he’s ignorant about how inappropriate it is.
If you still don’t want to rock the boat, invest in Mad Max-style shoulder pads.
Jokes aside, if you feel genuinely uncomfortable or physically threatened, cut things off with this client. A big part of freelancing is doing your work, your way – and it seems like this arrangement doesn’t empower you on a personal or professional level.
And try to work on sticking up for yourself! It sounds like a lot of your complaints about this situation came from you rolling over whenever your client requests something.
Questions? Episode ideas?