3 min read

Last week, I partnered up with Alex Cattoni on a webinar about what to do if client work slows down around you.

We spent quite a bit of time on Q&A, and someone asked a very fundamental question:

“How do I get my first client?”

I remember being in that situation. Knowing you want to work with client – maybe even NEED a client – but struggling to make that connection. It’s sort of like playing baseball, being 0 for 3, and going up to the plate being desperate to finally get on base.

That desperation is playing against you. You need to loosen your grip.

But the advice I gave actually ties back to one of the most-repeated adages in the startup and funding world:

“If you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, ask for money.”

A lot of times when freelancers are just getting started, they go for the sale right away. You’re not going to have a positive outcome with that approach. At best, they may give you feedback that you’re coming on too strongly.

Slow down – remember that projects are built on relationships. And relationships aren’t built on transactions.

Instead, ask for advice. If you have a list of dream clients (and you should), then reach out to them in a very human way. Let them know that you respect their business, their work, or something else they’ve done. Tell them you’re looking for their insight on a problem that you’re trying to tackle.

If you think that you can help realtors by building personal websites for them, don’t reach out to a realtor and ask, “Will you pay me to build a personal website for you?”

Start with a relationship. Start with a conversation. Start by asking for a few minutes of their time to get their perspective.

Hi Mallory,

I’ve been following your Instagram for a while now, and am really impressed by your success finding homes for your clients! It seems like they have really great things to say about you.

I’m a little new to the real estate space, and I’d love to ask you a few questions to get your perspective. Do you have 20 minutes some time in the next few weeks to get on the phone?


Lower the bar. Start by simply asking for their time and insight. When someone says yes, ask them about their priorities. Ask them what moves the needle for them. Ask them what is slowing them down or holding them back.

Only when they ask about your interests, or only when they touch on the problem you think you can solve for them, should you share that you work with people like them.

In my Selling For Freelancers course, one of the acronyms I like to use is ABC: Advocate Before Client.

You’ve heard me talk about Advocates a lot – because it’s really important. Before anyone becomes a client, they will become an Advocate for you – even if they are advocating for you to themselves!

So slow down. Remember that Advocates usually aren’t created in one conversation. When someone believes in you – when they believe in your work – they will find a reason (and budget) to work with you.