How I Got My First Client as a Freelance Developer

Aditya Solge
Nerd For Tech
Published in
3 min readJun 1, 2024

I left my full-time job in May 2023 and became a full-time freelancer to keep my coding passion alive. While I’m still figuring out a lot of things, I felt the need to share an honest account of my journey to becoming a freelancer. It all seems fruitful from the outside, but each journey has its own pros and cons. I’ll be sharing both, and more importantly, the things that worked for me!

If you want to follow the journey (to learn and share your experience) through videos, then check out my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@asolge

So here is how I got my first client! I started by exploring multiple platforms through Google searches and YouTube videos. I shortlisted four platforms based on what I felt were better suited to my skillset (comment down below if you need a comprehensive list of platforms). These platforms were Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer.in, and LinkedIn. I’m mostly going to talk about Upwork in this blog (and potentially in upcoming blogs as well) as that’s where I got my first client. Here are a few things that worked and didn’t work for me.

  1. Upwork Connects: To apply for gigs on Upwork, you need something called Connects. You can imagine them as Upwork currency, which you can buy and then spend on sending proposals to clients for the gigs. Of course, this might seem unfair at first, but I feel it’s necessary to keep the platform healthy; otherwise, everyone would bombard all the gigs with proposals. Every month, Upwork gives you 10 Connects, and additionally, you can purchase more by paying for them. I got lucky because I created my Upwork account back in 2022 during the exploration phase and forgot about it. What this meant was that when I logged in in 2023, 120 free Connects were waiting for me!
  2. [Mistake 1] Applying blindly to all gigs: Since I wasn’t familiar with the Upwork platform at first, I started applying to all the gigs blindly. Because there was no thought process, I didn’t get a single response from any of the clients. I soon realized this approach was not going to work, so I did some research to better understand the platform.
  3. [Mistake 2] Applying to all skill-matched gigs: I then started looking for gigs that were closest to my skill set. I was looking for quick wins and decided not to take any risks, so I applied to jobs I was very comfortable with. It turned out that the majority of freelancers were also comfortable with those jobs, and they were bombarding the gig with proposals, leaving my proposal buried deep down.
  4. [Mistake 3] Applying to stale gigs: Another mistake I made was not considering the age of the gig. I was applying to gigs that were too old and maybe already had freelancers working on them (or the client didn’t bother to hire anyone). At this point, I did some more research and finally found two important criteria: (1) most recent gigs, and (2) number of proposals.
  5. [Breakthrough] Combination of Most Recent Gigs and Number of Proposals: I finally found the trick by looking at the recently posted gigs. This means the client is likely still online and the number of people sending proposals is still low. Hence, the chances of getting your proposal viewed by the client are very high. Additionally, I didn’t get the breakthrough by doing just this; I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to apply only to gigs that were medium to hard in complexity but closest to my skill set. I finally got a response from my first client, and what helped me secure the gig was my work experience.

Summary:

  1. Whichever platform you choose, make sure you become comfortable with how the platform works.
  2. Observe the platform for some time before delving into finding a gig.
  3. Rely on your strongest skill set and see what makes you stand out from the crowd. For example, if someone is looking to integrate a payment gateway into their website, and you have worked for a payment gateway company in the past, this sets you apart from the crowd.
  4. Back yourself to tackle tough jobs; for easy jobs, the entire crowd is waiting to grab them, and you might have to spend too much money upfront to secure a low-paying easy job.

And that’s it! If you found this blog helpful, please follow and send some claps! Moreover, if you are a freelancer yourself, please share your experience of finding your first client in the comment section below.

See you in the next one!

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Aditya Solge
Nerd For Tech

I'm a full-time freelance software developer who used to work at Amazon. I help students with affordable learning at www.gogettergeeks.com.