Where to find clients is a common dilemma that many freelance product designers face. This is because being a freelance product designer is unlike being a freelancer in other fields. For instance, it is much easier for freelance programmers, website developers, or graphic designers to find clients. This is mainly because of the services that allow clients in these industries to advertise jobs, as well as freelancers to bid for work. This exists for product designers too, but not on the same scale.
Freelance product designers therefore have to work a bit harder to find clients. The good news is that the rewards are usually greater. In addition, the client relationships that you form and the marketing skills that you learn should benefit you in the long term. Here are some tips for finding clients if you are a freelance product designer.
Look at Your Competitors
A good first step is to look at your competitors' portfolios. This can be other freelance product designers but you should also look at the portfolios of larger companies. The things you should look for are the types of clients that they have—what industries they're in, the size of the company, what products are they making, etc. You should then start to think about the reasons why the clients chose to work with your competitor.
This information will form a good database of leads that you can contact about your own services, as well as help you develop the skills that you offer them. Understanding what clients want in a product designer is crucial to your success.
Leverage Your Existing Network
In all businesses, it is easier to get sales and win contracts from people that you know directly, or that you can get introduced to. So when you are looking for clients, the people that you know can be a good start.
Get to Know Other Freelance Product Designers
Many freelance product designers think this is a counter-intuitive idea, but there are huge benefits to getting to know other product designers. They can offer you advice, tips and ideas, and you can do the same for them. And they can also offer moral support.
But having connections with other product designers goes further than this as in some cases you can work together to win more clients. This is particularly useful if you have complementary skill sets.
Working for Free
Working for free is a controversial topic for any freelancer, including freelance product designers. However, it is something that you might need to consider in the early days of your career.
Just make sure that you get the maximum benefit from the exercise. Lay out the parameters with the client by detailing what you can do for free and what you won't. Make sure they know your normal rate, and explain to them why you are happy to work for nothing on certain projects. Finally, tell them you would like them to hire you again in the future at your normal rate if they are happy with your work, and insist on getting referrals and a testimonial.
Hopefully, these tips will help you in starting your product design career. Good luck in finding clients and happy freelancing!