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I got this question on YouTube the other day:
“How do I create a client base outside of freelance networks?”
Actually, I get this question a lot. And, usually, it comes from someone who’s about to send letters full of anthrax to the owners of Upwork (or Freelancer, Guru, etc) because they’ve tried everything and can’t get clients.
Let me tell you a story…
I often talk about what happened to me after I changed my approach on Elance and how I started sucking in clients like kids to a candy store. But, I talk less about what happened before.
That’s because it kind of sucked.
When I very very first got on Elance… I bombed.
I made all the mistakes I always tell you not to. I marketed myself as a “do-everything” web guy. I practically begged people to hire me. I had a terrible picture. My bio was about two sentences. I talked only about the languages I knew. And, I just sat there waiting for clients to land in my lap.
I’ll give you eight guesses what happened.
But, then I got lucky.
Several years before that, I’d uploaded a couple tutorials on YouTube and pretty much forgot about them. They got like 30 views initially… and since they didn’t instantly go viral, I had just moved on.
But, now several years later they were gaining traction.
I started noticing I was getting notifications from YouTube about comments… every other day or so. So, I decided to login and see what was up. To my shock, one of the videos now had over 10K views.
And, my channel was getting several thousand views per month.
Seemingly, out of nowhere.
So being the opportunistic little devil I am, I immediately started trying to figure out how I could use it. Eventually, I figured out how to push people through my website to my Elance profile. And, I never looked back.
Eventually, I went off Elance altogether.
And, just got all my clients through my website.
And, that’s the answer…
It doesn’t have to be YouTube, but you should absolutely be building up your audience outside of the freelance sites. Every serious business in the world is realizing this and starting to create content and build their audience.
Freelancers are no different.
It’s the cost of doing business.
Before the internet, the cost of doing business included buying a building, getting a big sign and advertising on the radio, newspaper, billboards, yada yada. Today, the cost of doing business is creating content.
As Gary Vaynerchuck says:
“If you’re not creating content online, you basically don’t exist.”
And be glad that’s all it is. You don’t need to go into debt 100K to start a business.
So, you should absolutely, never ever, not in a million years… rely solely on a freelance site to bring you all your clients.
That’s asking to go broke.
Thing is… leveraging your audience for your freelance business is simple:
- Figure out who your target audience is and what content they want
- Create the content and promote it like crazy on social media
- At the end of each piece of content, point them to your profile
(Pro tip: Don’t point them straight to your Upwork profile. Point them to a page on your site. At first, it can just be a redirect to your Upwork profile. But later when you want to “exit” Upwork, you can turn that page into a sales page. Mine, for example, is johnmorrisonline.com/hire. That was a redirect initially but now is a sales page. Now all those links from the initial content are still valid.)
Now, I think a lot of freelancers know this.
They know they need to be creating content.
But, they’re scared to put themselves out there.
Thing is… you don’t have to do YouTube videos like I do. You can do written tutorials, answer questions on StackOverflow or Quora. Then, find someone you trust and have them look your stuff over before you post it.
What you’ll find is the web isn’t the big scary monster you imagined.
And when you do get some jack!@# who “know-it-alls” one of your posts… just block ’em. Hell… even if they’re right. You don’t have to entertain them. Just block them and move on. I do it all the time.
But, when you build a content-to-profile funnel like this…
Beating the algorithms on Upwork or whatever site is easy. You’re building your own job history, testimonials, rankings… without relying on the network. And then eventually, you’ll rank high enough that the network starts sending you clients…
And then it’s all over.
You ride off into the sunset… tell bossy boy to shove it and your life is yours.
You’re free… and because you built it… it’s secure.
Anyway, I know you might want a more detailed walkthrough of how to set all this up… because details do matter. That’s why I created Module 3 in my Lightning Responsive course which you can get as a supporter over on Patreon.
It’s the detailed step-by-step roadmap to freedom. Get it here: http://johnmorrisonline.com/patreon.
P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, source code and exclusive courses on Patreon.