How to attract clients as a Nigerian freelancer — 9 proven tips

Victor A. Fatanmi
7 min readAug 8, 2023

Following a recent poll that we conducted on Twitter for Fullgap, for every 1 person who gets a project via popular marketplaces such as Upwork and Fiverr, there are 4 others who get projects outside them — from everyday encounters (physical and digital), and referrals.

Then there is you, wondering where to begin from, to attract clients and to work on your own terms, preferably without having to hustle for gigs on the marketplaces.

This article provides you with a few tips that you may find helpful.

1. Create evidence of good work (or effort)

Whatever your service is, having a portfolio of evidence to display your abilities is crucial. If you lack concrete examples of previous work done, consider creating fictitious or pro bono projects to demonstrate your potential. It all comes down to helping your potential clients reduce their risk, and increase their confidence.

Evidence of good work can be demonstrated in various forms. For designers, traditional PDF portfolios are popular. For freelancers of all types, this can come in the form of articles, blogs, and case studies to explain their work and bring their thought processes to the surface. You can get creative with how you show your evidence.

There is no particular way it has to be, as long as you achieve the goal. A writer can create a small ebook that is a collection of some of their best writings. A budding developer can collaborate with another budding designer to create a mobile app that showcases what they can both do. You can go and on, but whatever you do , we need evidence, either of your already great skill, or of the best of what you can already do, per time.

2. Make it easy to see the evidence

Ensure your evidence is easily accessible to potential clients. Curate your best works and host them on digital platforms like Medium and Behance, and with a tool like Mainstack, you can aggregate all these links in one place, as well as PDF uploads for portfolios and notes in that format.

Also, your expertise should be evident in your daily interactions — with articles, case studies, and regular tweets reflecting your capabilities. Your evidence is not limited to finished work. Tweets and screenshots of work-in-progress go a long way and can be the first pull, before people then discover your more detailed portfolio.

3. Optimize your digital profile

Take a moment to reflect on your digital profiles across various platforms this week.

  • Start with your LinkedIn profile: Is it professionally convincing?
  • Consider your photo and bio: Do they represent the image you want to portray?
  • Is your profile suggesting that you are someone people would like to work with?

Optimize your profiles to present yourself in the best light. Imagine you are the client looking to hire someone for a project — would you hire yourself?

If needed, update your photo and rethink any aspects that might not align with your professional goals. Remember, your online presence is like a label that displays who you are professionally. Make sure it reflects the best version of yourself.

4. Own a label that displays your value proposition

Adding a descriptive label to your name can make you stand out and elevate your professional identity. Think of it as a personalized tattoo defining your niche and passion.

Popular examples include @sojii_oy’s “The Brand Father” on Twitter, and on IG we have @melindalivsey’s “Uncertified Brand Strategist”, @dotlung’s “Mother of Social Dragons” (she is a social Media consultant) and more.

These simple titles can help to create a distinctive presence and instantly showcase your expertise every time someone views your profile. You don’t have to do this to build a winning brand as an individual but it can go a long way.

5. Be visible and attractive with consistent storytelling

In creating an unforgettable presence, sharing and narrating your story consistently can elevate you to the forefront of everyone’s thoughts, and attract interest. You don’t have to only share finished work and case studies. You should also share your work-in-progress, alongside observations from your journey. And also there are your personal interests and everyday life. It all comes together nicely, helping to create a likable personality that complements your skills and increases engagement with potential collaborators.

Avoid sticking to rigid posts that sound robotic or lack personality. Be more relatable, Embrace your true self, with all the highs and lows, work and play, and everything in between. Share your story as the authentic human you are.

There is also a need to show evidence for other traits like teamwork, leadership, and learning. We all already claim these things in our cover letters, but you can go ahead with short articles or Twitter threads that tell specific stories that add credence to some of these claims. More context gives credibility to our words. We need to show it. You can watch this YouTube video for some more explanation on this.

6. Interact with other people

Interacting with others is a powerful way to attract clients. Do not only use social media to speak, use it to listen, appreciate and interact with other people. Ask questions, add comments, and participate in discussions. Join spaces and Live chats. Building genuine connections and showing interest in others’ work can lead to potential clients or referrals to them.

At conferences or events, focus on building relationships with peers. Engaging with others creates meaningful connections, eventually leading to referrals and opportunities. Whether virtual or in-person, prioritize meaningful interactions over self-promotion.

This will help you win the hearts of people, from those who will introduce you to your next clients, to your next clients themselves. You can’t do all of this well without truly developing a genuine interest in other people.

7. Be professional, and inspire confidence

From your first responses to the questions you ask at the beginning, and how you go ahead to execute the deals you eventually seal, you are slowly creating a profile in the minds of people. And this will reflect on the opportunities they will send your way.

Fullgap can be a powerful tool for inspiring confidence throughout the project lifecycle. Its simple dashboard streamlines invoicing, agreement management, and task organization, helping you build an excellent reputation with clients and fostering future referrals. Success stems not only from the quality of your work but also from your overall approach and comportment.

8. Ask for testimonials and referrals

When seeking testimonies and referrals, consider reaching out to those you’ve collaborated with or worked alongside in the past. Whether it’s a project or any other work that showcases your abilities, gather feedback that speaks to your strengths. You can request recommendations directly or ask for LinkedIn recommendations. Where they send you emails or WhatsApp messages sharing their thoughts from working with you, ensure to document these. When you combine them in articles or someone in your portfolio, they become valuable evidence.

And this is not just limited to clients. Acquaintances, friends, mentors, and contacts should also be aware of your work. Don’t hesitate to ask for referrals and spread the word about what you do. Share your expertise and showcase your abilities, whether through emails, direct messages, or other channels. Engage with potential clients and show them the evidence of your capabilities.

9. Propose solutions to potential clients

Yes, many people will try to exploit you by offering your ‘exposure’ in exchange for free work from you and you should indeed be wary of such people. However, there is a place for free work and indeed, many people have built their careers by doing some strategic free work at the beginning.

The best way to go is to ensure that you are the one who spots the opportunity and that it’s not the client that’s asking. Sometimes, it will lead to a paid opportunity. Some other times it simply becomes an additional project in your portfolio. Whichever the case, it adds to your continuous practice and skill development, as well as your pool of stories to tell.

Ready to attract clients?

While there is never a one-size-fits-all approach, thinking through these ideas and implementing as many as you can gets you closer to the opportunities you desire in your freelance work regardless of the services you offer — as a graphic designer, writer, software developer, product designer or any other type of work you do. You should also consider signing up on www.fullgap.co to access exclusive resources that dig deeper into some of these insights.

You should also consider signing up on www.fullgap.co to access exclusive resources that dig deeper on some of these insights.

Also published on Fullgap’s Medium.

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Victor A. Fatanmi

‘Finding my writing’, under the blanket of the known image of a Designer and Agency Founder.