If you have a client service type of business, one of your biggest challenges is finding work. After a while most work may come in through referral, but you still have to get out there and find it. Not all work that will come your way will be the right type of work. If you are a designer, then you want design work. If you are a developer, then you want developer work. If you are a programmer, then you want programming work. It will take time to learn how to filter out the different types of work and where the sources are to get web work that you like to do.
It’s important to keep the momentum going. Just like you would schedule your daily work routine, you need to make the act of getting work just as routine. If that requires you sending out emails to your regular contacts saying, “It looks like I have some time openning up next month, so if anyone needs some web development work done, please let me know” or sending emails to past clients, “It’s been some time since we finished work on your site. It may be time to review the site and the analytics to see how your website is performing. Would you like to schedule a phone meeting next week to review?”
Below I will describe some steps that you can follow to not only get work, but figure out what kind of work you like to do.
1. What’s the first thing you do to get web work? As yourself what type of work you like to do.
It takes some time, but eventually you figure out the type of work you like to do. Whether you are an agency or a freelancer, you start to figure out where your skills fit best. Some developers like to be in charge, meeting the client face to face and being a part of the whole project every step of the way. Other developers, just want to be in the background, be given a task and then get it done. It’s really important to figure out the type of involvement you would like to have with your work, so that when talking to clients or agencies, you can find the right fit. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you only do design or you only do programming. You may even have associates that can do that, so feel free to recommend them.
2. Have you figured out who you are?
Are you a team player or a lone wolf? Some freelancers or agencies don’t like to take direction from others. If you are of that type, then you probably shouldn’t do subcontractor work. Some subcontractors can get by just fine doing that if they work for people that know them well. You may even be better at getting the work and then subcontracting the other parts you don’t specialiize in. That’s fine too, but you will need to manage the project well. Knowing who you are is a huge advantage in getting working keeping it coming in.
3. How do you like to work?
Are you a night owl or an early riser? I like to get up early and stay up late, so I am both, but I know other developers that will work until 4AM if you let them! If you feel that you are more productive at certain times than others, definitely share it with others that you may be working with. “Don’t be alarmed if you get emails from me at 2AM. I like to work late.” For many freelancers and agencies, it may not matter, as long as the work gets done, but keep the communication lines open. You may have to show up at meetings during the day!
4. Make sure your portfolio is updated
One of the things I consistently see is that portfolios are not updated with the work that the designer / developer / programmer is trying to get hired for. If you do programming, your work needs to call attention to specific pieces in your work that has your code. If you do design, make sure to include descriptions of your designs and the challenges you faced with that particular design. Many times people want to know how you approach problems.
5. Go where the people are
To get web work, sitting at your desk waiting for the phone to ring is not a good method. You have to go where the people are. If you are a freelancer or agency who likes to work with clients directly going to an industry event, probably isn’t the best place to go to find new clients. Why? Because all of your competitors will be there too! It just doesn’t make sense. What you should do is level the playing field. Go to non-industry events, such as fundraisers, community events or business open houses. Every community has events that happen at little or no cost where many people attend who need help with their businesses. If you are a freelancer or agency that likes to be a subcontractor, then industry events are definitely for you! Introduce yourself to others, tell them what you specialize in, some recent projects you’ve done and that you would like to work with them some day.
All in all, getting work is really not that hard if you are consistent and put in the time. Just like doing the work, getting the work is work too!