How to get freelance clients using Facebook groups
When I first started freelancing, I'm sure I had a cartoonish "deer in the headlights" look on my face for at least two weeks. I had just lost my job at a startup, and was trying to quickly scramble to find work and consistent cashflow.
… but I did.
Within the first month of freelancing, I was able to get 3 clients on monthly retainer without spending any money on advertising, going to network events, or using my personal network.
(Granted, I hadn't figured out how to price my services right yet, but we'll get to that later).
I found consistent clients through Facebook groups I was a member of, and it was simple and stress free.
In this post, I’m going to tell you exactly how I did it—so you can copy my moves and start growing your freelance business.
Step 1: Find the right groups.
Before you go crazy writing the perfect pitch for your services, you need to figure out where your people are hanging out on the internet. You can’t just join any ol’ Facebook group. You have to find the perfect Facebook group that has tons of your ideal customers waiting for your services.
The good news is, there’s a Facebook group for just about anything. Seriously. No matter how weird or how niche you think your customer base is, there’s a group for that. (Throwback to “there’s an app for that” days, anyone?)
For me, I knew that I was targeting startups and small local businesses in Austin, Texas. So I joined a few key groups for: freelance gigs, local startups, and local entrepreneurs.
But notice I chose a few groups and really focused on those. Don’t go crazy joining 100 groups—this will be a time waster and ultimately distract you from finding clients. Pick 2-5 groups that are PERFECT for your business/service. Then, on to step 2…
Step 2: Become a great group member.
If you just found your perfect group and think you should start posting a ton of content right away, stop right there! You have no idea how to talk to these people yet. Every Facebook group has a unique culture—a weird collective online personality that gets stronger the longer a group exists. It's a beautiful thing.
A great personal example is the group Austin Digital Jobs, which is full of snarky memes and gifs, and fully welcomes the trolling of spammy posts (as long as it’s all in good fun). A well placed gif will go a long way in this group, but that’s not the case for other random groups. It depends on the culture. You with me? You get it.
Back to you getting clients.
So join the group, pick your favorites, and then carefully observe the culture and start participating as a member. Comment on other people’s posts, support others offering their services, and generally be a nice person.
By the way, this "be a nice person" thing will be the number one trait that builds your freelance business. When someone is hiring an individual and not a company, they want to see that you are going to be friendly and easy to work with.
Step 3: Make an authentic introduction post
Finally… we get to the good stuff. You’ve carefully observed the group and become a part of the club, and now you’ll be rewarded for your good behavior. If the group rules allow it, post an introduction talking about yourself and your services, and tailor your post to the group culture somehow. If you’ve truly been paying attention, you should know how to do this. (Example, if I was posting in Austin Digital Jobs, I’d include a hilarious meme).
When you do this, you also need to hit a few key points.
WHO YOU SERVE: be specific. Your services aren’t just for ANYONE, right? Think about your ideal customer, that person you’ve always wanted to work with. Get as specific as possible. Then… say hi to them.
YOUR CORE OFFER: pick just one. It’s cool if you offer a few different things. But just focus on your core offer. So, if you’re a graphic designer, don’t say graphic design. Say “Logo design done for you in 1 week.” Or whatever.
HOW TO CONTACT YOU: ask them to take action. It really doesn’t matter how you ask them to do this, just don’t forget! It’s amazing how many people forget this. The more specific instructions you give people, the more likely they are to take action. Don’t say “If you want my service, let me know!” Say something like, “DM me,” or “Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org,” or “comment below.”
That’s it. Rinse and repeat, and that’s really all you need to do. Sit and wait and the customers will come. It's magical, so I can't wait for you to try this.
You should also craft enthusiastic and helpful responses when someone posts a job opening you want.
When I say helpful, I mean try to give them detail and show your value in a few sentences. Here's a made-up example for a job posting asking for a writer. You COULD say:
"Hey, I'm a writer. I'll send you a DM."
OR you could be awesome and say,
"Hey [Name]! I'm a writer, and this topic is my specialty. I've written about this exact thing for companies X, Y, and Z, and I have availability now for new projects. I'm sending you a message so we can set up a call."
See how much better that is? It's not super long, but it shows them you know your stuff and will be pleasant to work with. You sound knowledgable and enthusiastic to take on the work. You're also being more specific about the action steps for kicking off your new working relationship. People are always more likely to take action when you tell them exactly what you want them to do.
Even more tips on using Facebook groups to get clients . . .
- When someone asks for help, give them really good advice for free. For example, if someone posts in a group saying, “Does anyone know how to fix this bug in Wordpress?” Comment with an answer that will really help them. Don’t say, “I can fix this!” Actually tell them how to fix it. That proves to them that you know what you’re talking about, and shows that you’re a nice human. They’ll be way more willing to contact you for your service if you do this first.
- Refer people you know. Be an active group member, and help out your people! If someone in the group asks for help with something you don’t know how to do, connect them to someone who does. Again, that whole niceness thing, y’all. You’re building relationships that might build your business in the future. It’s an investment that only costs your time and friendliness.
- Compliment others on their work/offer. Like if a graphic designer posts their portfolio and it happens to be your style, let them know you're lovin' it with a genuine compliment. Are you sensing a theme here with the niceness? Good! Being an active group member and leaving genuine compliments for other people helps you do this magic thing called online networking. Maybe they’ll refer you, become a client, or like your next post. You catch more flies with honey, even on the internet.