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How To Land Your Very First Client

Marshall Taylor March 31, 2021 · 3 min read
There’s no one guaranteed route that will score you your first job. Instead, it’s usually a combination of several controlled factors, that when used together will dramatically increase your presence on the radars of potential clients. Here are some tips to help you out along the way.

Work Hard

This should go with out saying. A career, whether freelanced or salaried, will not come to you unless you put in the hours. Fortunately for most designers, this comes slightly easier than normal, since it is largely a passion and less a job. I consider myself lucky, even after working a fourteen hour day; because it always amazes me that there is a market, a means by which I can generate a living doing what I am passionate about.

Carefully Curate Your Portfolio

Create, create, create! Your portfolio is going to be pivotal to landing a client, especially those you may never meet face to face, so invent reasons to be creating. Early on, I would create practice case studies to challenge myself. I could then use these case studies in my portfolio until more real world projects were complete. Even to this day, some of my most viral projects are ones I created and haven’t left my portfolio. In general, I aimed to keep around six to ten pieces in my portfolio, removing items that were under performing when I completed a new project. In addition to restricting the number of projects, try to keep on target. Avoid sending mixed messages about what kind of designer you might be, and what services a client may get from you. If you want solely branding gigs, for example, then your portfolio should have only branding samples.

Get Social, But Relax

Word of mouth is powerful, so shake some hands and be sure to ask for work. It may feel weird at first, but if you don’t ask you will not receive. Afterwards, get online; your clients can come from anywhere, and will. My experience was that limiting your social networks will let you focus more time on a single avenue, instead of being split between many. So pick one or two social networks to engage people with and own those before spreading out.

Swing and Miss

Apply for everything initially; play the odds and even submit for jobs you may consider out of your reach. You might get a lot of rejections, but again, you don’t know until you have asked. Early on, I would shamelessly ask everyone and anyone if they were looking for a graphic designer. Inadvertently I was marketing myself by letting others know that I was open for business, even if their answer was no, they may pass your name on to another prospective client.

Be a Brand

Consistency is crucial to creating a coherent image of yourself. This doesn’t mean you need to have a brand as tight as major corporations, instead it could be as simple as using the same profile picture across social medias, or having the same font across all your marketing materials. You can get a great feel for your image by taking advantage of branding mock ups like the one below.

How Did You Land Your First Client?

It may seem like an over simplification of the process, but a refined focus on these suggestions will increase your chances of getting that first freelance cheque, or perhaps open that door to the interview of your dreams. We’d love to hear about your very first client. Tell us the story in the comments below.

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About the Author
Marshall Taylor

True North Creative is fonts and designs created and cared for by Marshall Taylor. Fun to make and fun to use. Thanks for the support!

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