I’ve got my portfolio and website online. What is the next step to attract new clients?

So you’ve had several freelance gigs and have sorted out your website. You’ve got most of your previous jobs through services like oDesk or through meetings in-person. Now that you are happy with putting yourself out there you want to know the next step as to attract new clients.

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I quit freelancing—How I created a profitable software product to escape “clients from hell” and their boring, crappy projects

Summary: Many freelancers are having trouble with clients. I was one of them. I got so fed up with the fact that I went on to fire all my clients, brute forced trough my insecurities and created a digital product which replaced my freelancing entirely. Moreover—it became a source of more freelance work that I can easily tap into, in case I want to go back.

This is my story:

How I succeeded in the world of OpenCart extension/theme developers without prior experience

For the first year out of the university I had been freelancing full-time as a web designer—mocking up sites in Photoshop and later building them in HTML. Sometimes even going further down the road to WolfCMS, but nothing more complicated than that.

I wanted to earn $1000 per month. Most of the time I was short of reaching that goal. I decided I should put more work in.

After working gruesome 16 hour days and feeling the burnout and disappointment, the thought of "This is not the way to go…" started creeping in.

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“Take risks” should become your mantra

When do you grow?
When you have different experiences from the ones you’ve got already.

How do you get different experiences?
By acting differently.

How do you act differently?
By going outside of your comfort zone.

But isn’t this risky?
Yes, it is. Every action you take is a risk. A risk for your personality. A risk for your ego. But there is something hidden in plain sight, something that only the ones who have risked know:

Risks are rewarded

Even if your actions turn out bad, you can treat them as experiments that teach you something. This is your shortcut to getting more knowledge.

Taking risks is not common for people. Few ever think of risking, far less even attempt it. That’s why your competition is close to zero.

Getting more knowledge and less competition at the same time is not bad at all!

The basis of risk is fear

If you release the hold of your attachment to results and fear of losing there will be nothing left that can be taken from you. Wining and losing will result in more of the same—life experience. Actions won’t seem risky anymore.

When there is no fear you are calm and focused, so the chance that you will play your cards right increases.

Start exploring the borders of your comfort zone. Your residual fears are there. And your fears are not the size of dragons, no matter how strong you feel the opposite.

This article is part of a series I am writing called “Things I wish I knew when I graduated from university”

And I thought we don’t have money for advertising…

Yesterday I had a conversation with another friend of mine—she is providing customer service for Google AdWords. In the middle of a talk about the most common problem people have with the product it hit me—”We can advertise! But wait, we don’t have the budget for it…” Not so fast cowboy. Think first!

My biggest takeaway from the conversation was that if we want to make omframework.com our main sales channel and avoid OpenCart.com’s marketplace we can use the same amount of margin they take from us(sales commission) and feed an AdWords campaign with it. The marketplace is costly and especially business-model limiting, despite bringing in a lot of sales.

Running the numbers, the budget per sale becomes unexpectedly big for a business with our scale. After all we are just a product company with a very niche offering.

The actual size of the billboard

OpenCart.com takes from us 20% of the sale price.
The cost of having Gumroad as an alternative sales channel is 5%+$0.25 on every transaction.

So, our customer acquisition budget is 20%-5%-$0.25 = 15%-$0.25 = $11.6. A quick CPC research using the Keyword Ideas Tool in AdWords told me that the average price of the keywords I am targeting is around $1.44 which means that if we have around 12.5% conversion rate from AdWords traffic everything will be in balance.

$11.6 is a good baseline to start from. There are other ad networks, too, yet this is not that important for the moment. What is important though is where to start? Obvious answer—keyword research. Not so obvious—where to research for them?