Can an Indian freelancer build a freelancing services business only with local clients? What are the ways to find long-term local Indian clients?
If you are looking to get your first local Indian client or already have few and want to build a recurring source of local clients with offline marketing, you have come to the right place. Clients are bread and butter for freelancer and there is no denying fact about it. More the clients for a freelancer means he can demand better rates and generate a regular source of income doing freelancing.
Among Indian freelancers, there is a common approach to target foreign clients especially from the US using freelancing sites like Upwork. The most common reason to target foreign client besides better rates is they can approach clients online from the comfort of their home or office.
The most important aspect to such an approach is, you have to be good at communication in English.
What if your English isn’t as good as it needs to be or you just aren’t able to establish a regular source of online clients online in your niche or want also to foray into local Indian clients?
Not knowing English isn’t the end of the freelancing career. One can find local Indian clients but before we deal with how to find them, there is an important difference between approaching clients online and offline.
What Niche to target for Indian clients?
The niche that works online (web design or web development) typically don’t work for the offline Indian clients. If you get the niche wrong, expect a rough time finding clients.
Let me explain this with an example to make it clear:
If you wish to be a web designer looking for local Indian clients. Most of the Indian small businesses who are considering to have a website are purely looking for an information-based 5-page website. They are only looking to put it online at a cheaper price point. They don’t consider websites as a medium of business but a place to find information about the business.
So for web design services, one may need to find a lot of new clients each month to remain afloat.
Now add to it, In India, you have to be interacting more in person with your clients than online. Often a potential client will ask you to make a visit even for a small change they want to communicate. So it can mean your value from each client should be a lot higher because you will need to allocate more time to each client.
So the niche that works with local clients is, where you can bundle recurring services. So for a web designer, it is advisable to recurring services like website content management, SEO services, social media marketing or can even refer them to products with recurring affiliate commission.
Anything that can help you add recurring revenue will help build a revenue stream with local clients over time to move away from looking for new clients and focus on business growth.
How to Find Local Freelancing Clients in India
Now coming back to the original question of what are some of the common ways to get Indian clients.
1. Cold Calling
The best form of marketing that still works in India is cold calling. Though people have managed to stop receiving random calls still, it is one of the most effective forms of marketing for any local business in India.
The important aspect is to get the contact details of people who are interested in your services. Sites like OLX.in of JustDial can help in finding businesses around you. Call them to see if they are looking for what you have to offer.
Apart from OLX or JustDial, use Google to find businesses around you. Search for keywords like Restaurants and Google will show all the restaurants in the area. Call them to see if they are interested in what you offer.
2. Part Time Clients
The other best way to get local Indian clients is working part time with them.
With the launch of GST in India, it is tough for many micro businesses to hire someone full-time who can help them with all the computer related taxation work to run the business. If anyone can do the same work as a part-timer and can help them get the things sorted, it can be a good source of clients.
Again such work may not be available in every niche and GST, taxation or accounting is one such niche where hiring someone for a part-time (work once a week, daily for a couple of hours, or even convert bills to digital form for GST etc) are some of the common work where business like to hire a part-timer here in Surat. Check out what niche people are looking to hire others more on a part-time basis.
Select a niche where you can work more as an additional resource to businesses.
3. Use Existing Contacts
Any freelancer can find their first few clients using their contacts. There is a huge potential but most of the freelancer tend to overlook.
You can see the complete step by step process that one can use to get first few clients from contacts here. It will kickstart the freelancing career right at this moment.
4. Word of Mouth / References
Asking for references is often neglected by freelancers but it is one of the most effective forms of marketing for the services industry. Use it to your advantage to grow clients and the business.
The client you are already working for will know other people in the similar business. If the client is satisfied with what you are doing they can refer you to others. If someone refers you, you have an upper hand because your services should have been talked highly by the referring client to the referred client. This can make your task easier to convert the new client into yet another long-term client.
Finding client may be a tough task but finding the right kind of talent who is reliable and maintain the quality of work is even tougher.
Make sure to ask each of the existing clients for reference and don’t neglect the word of mouth marketing.
5. Quora / Forums
You are looking for the offline way to find local clients but that shouldn’t stop you from interacting in forums related to your niche or answer few questions on Quora.
This will help you understand the current trend in the niche or common pain points of your potential clients. Once you know the pain points of clients, it can help you address them to have an edge over others.
Forum interactions are smaller interactions and don’t need to be in the grammatically correct English either. One can use Grammarly to enhance grammar and overall writing skills at least for forums.
Even if you aren’t responding in forums, it can help you find clients who are looking for things you may have to offer. Some of my past clients were from my active participation in SitePoint, DigitalPoint, and other such online forums.
6. Facebook Groups
Be an active member of groups on Facebook where people post requirements quite often.
Here are some of the common requirements I see people post often in Facebook groups.
Search for “looking to hire” on Facebook and you will find a lot of people looking for what you can offer.
It is quite common for people to post on Facebook for what he is looking for in a group than on freelancing sites like Upwork.
7. Social Media Marketing
Online marketing, especially on the social media, can be a good way to help your business grow. We aren’t talking about how many likes or fans your official company page has but what I am saying is how many people actually call you or leave their number for you to call them.
One can design a simple landing page using LeadPages and offer them an incentive to share their phone number or email or even both. Use social media marketing to drive potential client in the neighborhood of your business.
Social media marketing is often measured with likes or follower counter but as a real business, spend the money to grow your business. It matters more than the like or follower count.