Freelancing: How did you get your FIRST client?

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Many of my readers are already accomplished freelancers or thinking about a career in this area, so it would make sense to chat a little about our first experience with a client. I’ll be the one to start and I’ll invite you all to write your own stories in our comments section. Would love seeing how each of you did and if it was a good or a bad experience.

Somewhere in 2004 I think … I was a webmaster already, since 2002. Had a web site about Karate (one of my hobbies back then) and I was already learning a lot about web site administration, web design etc. I had a lot of time and willingness to learn and no money, so it was a perfect ‘fit’.

Freelancing Take Care of Your Inner Strength

My first client (and the one who actually opened my eyes that my passion could turn into a side job at least) was my brother in law. We were having the family lunch one Sunday at my husband’s (we weren’t married back then) and my BIL asked me if I could help him with his company’s site. He was running a small firm that was importing construction materials and wanted to have his own site to promote the business. He thought that, if I’m already tinkering all day long with my site, maybe I can do this for him too.

Sure, I said, and started working on his project. I first created a ‘mockup design’ (as I still do now), so that we both can see how the web site will look. He was very pleased with the design, so I sliced the Photoshop design and started the HTML/CSS coding. In few weeks the site was done. He PAID me for my entire work, even if I felt a little weird asking my boyfriend’s BIL for money. “No, he said, you worked for this. It’s my company and I would have paid a designer anyway. Why can’t it be you?

Being very pleased with my work, he also told me something that clearly gave me even more courage to work as a web designer from now on. He said I had a gift for this and I should pursue my hobby even from a business standpoint. When I started my site back in 2002 all I wanted to do was to create my own project and share my knowledge about Karate. I never dreamed of doing anything else, especially earn a living online.

Long story short, I did get more clients in the following years, even if I kept my freelancing just as a ‘side job’. All the experience and thousands of hours of work/learning did pay off in 2009, when I lost my main job and started pursuing web design as a real business. Anytime we’d talk about this, how much I earn, what possibilities it all opened up, he’s just smiling and telling me “told you so“. He sure did.

10 COMMENTS

  1. The freedom that freelancers seem to enjoy encouraged me to try and become one but waiting for my very first client was a mix of frustration, doubt if I made the right decision and other emotions. Still, something told me to hang on so I kept sending out samples and applications until the first one came along, one who trusted me enough and from there, the rest is history. Today, I feel glad I tried freelancing.

  2. Nice story! For me, things are a bit different – since I only know basic HTML (that I had to use from necessity to change minor things in the themes that I had) and I have never used Photoshop (I fell ashamed), the only thing I can do is write 🙂 And when it comes to writing, I always say “why write for somebody else, when I can write for myself?” Ha!

    This has to do with the fact that being a non-native English speaker automatically cuts a lot from the price I can ask. I know of freelancers who get up to $100 or more per article, but that’s not something anybody would be willing to pay a non-native writer.

    Back to your question, I had a brief period as a freelancer and I landed my first “job” via my blog. Somebody liked my style (which means he was kind of crazy) and offered my to write two articles for his site. I got $10 for both and back then I was ecstatic. Now I wouldn’t do it again :))

    • Well, as long as you’re making a living off your sites, you surely don’t need to work for anybody. What niches are your sites in? You have mentioned being able to get quite some good income off them and it’s not that easy to make all this money.

  3. My first client came by luck I think. I offered nothing different on the freelance site I used and had no testimonials. I was very lucky to get an order but I did and I was very happy because of it. I understand it is best not to leave it too luck but it worked.

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