The first question I often get from some starting a freelance business is “ where do you get your clients?”

When a freelancer is starting to put themselves out there it can be a real hustle. Sites like upwork and people per hour show the promise of freelance clients but the competition is often quite high. You may feel as though you don’t have enough freelance experience to apply for certain postings or you may fear being underbid by someone across the world. When I was starting out, my energy went into sending a lot of proposals rather than looking for quality freelance clients.

Startup Stock Photos

I want to flip this concept on its head and say it’s not about “where to find clients” but asking yourself, “who is my target freelance client?”

Don’t know who you should target?

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I use to tell people, ‘I work with startups’ like this was some kind of niche. A startup is a company or initiate that is younger than five years, this was not a customer segment but a type of company. To avoid getting these type of emails and to spend my energy on people I actually wanted to work with, I developed a framework for identifying my target client for my freelance business.

My target freelance market

I work with startups who have a digital product that is marketed to millennials. The digital product must be an iOS first app or a web app. The company must have less than 10 employees and has gone through at least one round of funding. I generally look for clients based in the US or Canada. For Canadian clients, I work well with companies from Montreal and for US clients I target startups from New York.

Here some things you should look for when scoping out freelance clients

How large is the company?

Corporate culture changes quite a bit with companies of different sizes. Which culture do you feel comfortable in?


Higher revenue companies often give you more defined tasks while younger, lower revenue companies often need you to approach projects with wider scopes.

Ensure the company has enough revenue or the founder has enough personal capital to pay your rate.


What values does the company have and stand for? Do those values correlate with your own belief systems?

Values don’t have to political, social or environmental but can relate to the way you do work for example. Many of my clients aren’t perfectionist and don’t value perfection, they value efficiency and love to work in iterations.

This works well for me.


What type of product is this company building? Do you have experience building this type of product and will you enjoy building it for this company?

Clients Target Market

The reason I work with companies who target millennials is because I am one. As a freelance user experience designer, before you get to testing, you build a framework for your product off of best practices and assumptions. Since I am a millennial, I find it easier to put myself in the shoes of a potential customer, making the product design process much easier.

Your framework is just that, a framework and you should have some flexibility when looking for new clients. Similar to the apartment hunting analogy, criteria makes it easier but ultimately you have to go out and see what opportunities are out there. With your framework in mind, you’ll have the energy to approach the right opportunity when it comes along.

Still, don’t know who you should target?

Enter your email to download the FREE Target Client Worksheet


Need some inspiration, check out my article on 5 Reasons Why I’m in Love with Bali