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Finding work...

Hi Guys...

I have looked (maybe not well enough!) for advice on df, but I will ask anyway, how do the freelancer designers on this site find work?

Many of you know I have just left a long term contract and I am now looking for freelance projects on my own, but I seem to be struggling to find or even win anything.

I am currently using peopleperhour.com & freelancer.co.uk to bid for projects, but its such an over populated marketplace that I seem to lose them all...

I also use google/jobtrovit/gumtree etc to find freelance projects

I have a few projects in the pipeline through friends etc, but what if I didn't? What could I do to find further work?

Does anyone else work freelance, how did you get your work?

Sorry if it seems like a lazy post, or rant, just a little frustrated... :mad:

Any help would be appreciated...
When I started I attended the start up classes at my local Business Gateway (not sure if they have a different name or system in England). Everyone else there was starting a business or thinking about, and therefore in need of design.

While the classes were pretty useless otherwise they were free, and I have had 2 or 3 clients through that.

Everything else has been via word of mouth, although it hasn't been easy this year. Which has led me to joining the Chamber of Commerce and I am still waiting for that to kick off, as I have only had one networking event so far. Also just sorting out a mail out to other members, so fingers crossed with that.

I also put an ad in the Yellow pages this year. So far I have had one call from that, so I probably wont bother with that again.

The only other thing I did when I started was walk around the local town centre and speak to the small business owners. That did at least get me one job doing a logo!


Junior Member
Hi all

Yeah, I'm pretty much in the same position and finding it very frustrating. It's hard when everyone says it's word of mouth and you feel like you can't really do anything! I've realised I'm probably aiming at the wrong market and maybe need to look at new businesses but where do you find them? I will def see if there is some alternative to your business gateway around me but any other suggestions are gratefully received!
Word of mouth is the best source for quality leads but if I relied on that alone my schedule would be very quite indeed. It's worth noting that it does take time to build your client base to a level where you are getting regular work. I've been freelancing just under 2 years and it's only in the last 4 or 5 months that I've got to the stage where I'm fully booked most of the working week, and can actually pick and choose some projects.

In terms of how you go about it, you need to be really pro active. Spend time on your website to make it look professional and advertise it. I'm listed on just about every free business listings site, loads of portfolio sites and a few select paid sites. If you haven't already, set up Google Ad words and Analytics; my current spend with Ad words is £40 a month as this generates reasonable traffic without breaking the bank.

Every time I'm in a quite spell I look for local face to face networking events. I did join a networking group with weekly meet ups at loads of different groups but have been too busy recently to make the most of it.

Other than that I have bookmarked about 20 good jobs sites that I trawl once a week to see if anything is of interest. I've sent out mailers to potential clients in one area I specialise in and send a quarterly e-newsletter to my contact list.

maybe need to look at new businesses but where do you find them? I will def see if there is some alternative to your business gateway around me but any other suggestions are gratefully received!
Finding new businesses before they have all their core branding needs; logos/ basic websites/ stationery etc is really difficult. I've explored several routes for this with limited success. I once paid the local council library for a contact list of all businesses registered in my town in the last month, (the list had over a 1000) but most of it was dead ends; registered office contact details/ solicitors details or no phone and or email address available.

If your serious full time freelancing then I'd recommend getting in touch with Business Link, it's a free service and they can help with all sorts of things for new businesses. They also have a Select Supplier scheme which, if you can get on to it, is well worth it. They advise loads of new businesses on all sorts; including where to go for branding and marketing.


Senior Member
mailshot local firms that you feel will benefit... if your selective will be cheap.
approach medical and other professional businesses and ask if they need any documentation for their customers to promote their businesses if they say no then sweet talk em - something that you will become a pro in eventually! find a local print company that batches and be flexible with them to ensure a good relationship with them so you can get the best price; usually by the time you've added a decent design fee on top of the discounted printing fee it will still be cheaper than the clients previous experience with other designers and will get your foot in the door.


Active Member
Get on a Bike....

There is no quick route, only hard graft. Before you can design you have to do business. Designing is the easy part........


Junior Member
Thanks so much - that's all really helpful. One more question though - apart from the fact that I am rubbish at selling myself as I just feel like a total idiot (lack of confidence that I'm good enough = they will think I'm a joke), what do you say to people?? For example, if you're approaching an already established business but you think you could be more competitive etc than their current designer situation, what the hell do you say???

Thanks guys - this is soooo helpful!


Active Member
snourse said:
but you think you could be more competitive etc than their current designer situation, what the hell do you say???
If you're not confident with words show them your work, what you've done for other clients previously, if you really are better than whoever they're currently using, then you're in with a shot (and the conversation will flow easier then) :)
One thing that a lot of people overlook is that, if you are not good at it yourself then find someone else to help. In this day and age you can surely find someone to work with....

Find someone good with people, educate them about your work and what you need to get across to potential clients, give them a set percentage per job and then leave them to it. You could do this with 100 people and you would still pay the same per job for them getting you the job. As long as the incentive is high enough they will keep at it, even if it is people with full time jobs that want some commision type work in their spare time ;)

Never try to do everything yourself as you can't and it takes away from your main abilities.


Junior Member
I have to say, that from my experiences ( and I have been freelancing for a year now ) geting clients is harder than i have imagined. Mostly I search local job sites and forums, which may not come into consideration if you are from UK, but let me tell you how i landed one of my clients:
I looked on Internet and was searching for recording studios in the States, since I am sound engineer, I was sending resumes to all of which I thought are respectable companies. Of course I received a lot of "thanks not hiring" replies also from this particular studio, which after a few months contacted me, because they were looking for some audio localization work.
And we did the project and have been doing them ever since ( frankly 6 - 7 per year ) but hey, any money is good money;)
My advice:
Send your offer out blank, you might get lucky.