How to find (and keep) clients as a freelance developer (Part 2)  –  Method #1: Reddit

This is a 4 part series where I share my musings about how to find (and keep!) clients as a freelance developer. I’ll cover topics such as the main philosophy in finding the best clients for you, tested methods of finding clients on your own and some basic tips in client relationship management that have served me well over the years.

In case you haven’t read the other posts from the series…

Now, on to the method…

Method #1 — Reddit

More specifically the /r/forhire subreddit. This has been the best source of clients for me since a lot of reddit’s users are developers, which are my ideal clients (as stated on Part 1).

Ok so here’s how it works. There are two ways to this method. The first one is to make a [For Hire] post.

Make a [For Hire] post

You go to the subreddit and click on the “Get Hired” green ugly button.

You’ll be taken to the subreddit post page.

monkey photo

I know... It's ugly.

Here’s a couple of things to take into account when posting here:

  • All Get Hired (and Hiring) posts must be a self post. Meaning you have to write something, not just add a link to your portfolio and say “Please hire me”.
  • The title of your post MUST be in a specific format, in this case you NEED to add the [For Hire] tag at the beginning of your title, if you don’t do this your post will be caught by the auto-moderator bot and will be deleted.
  • You CAN’T add personal info to your post, that mean no emails, no addresses and no phone numbers. The preferred method of communication is through reddit’s message system. You CAN add a portfolio site and/or links to sites you have done which is really recommended but not necessary.
  • You should include enough info about you to help people seeing your post make a decision. Don’t just copy and paste your CV. I recommend to add your timezone, available hours, technologies you’re experienced with, your portfolio, etc. I don’t disclose my hourly rate on my posts but you can try it and see if that works for you.
  • You can only post ONCE (1) every 7 days. If you don’t follow this rule you can be banned! This subreddit is a forum, not a billboard.
  • Don’t refer yourself as “We”. Things like “We work fast” or “We can do it for you” don’t fly on there. After a conversation with the mods they emphasized that the subreddit’s goal is to connect individuals with individuals. Not individuals with companies. That’s what /r/B2BForHire is for. So be very careful with your wording.
  • You need 50 karma to be able to post there. It sucks I know. But it helps weed out the spammers. I won’t tell you how to get karma. That’s your homework.
  • I recommend to post in the morning after 9AM EST time and only post on weekdays (I avoid Mondays and Fridays, too much competition those days).

Here’s some Get Hired posts inspiration to get you started…

Now here’s the other method…

Respond to [Hiring] posts

There’s no science to this one.

  • You see an interested [Hiring] post like this one: [Hiring] [Remote] Freelance Web Designer / Front-end Developer.
  • Then click on “send a private message” on the user’s profile sidebar.
  • And send the user a message about how you’re interested in the project, your timezone, hours available, hourly rate (if you want) and anything you think the poster will find useful in deciding to hire you or not.

I personally have a generic template that I rewrite based on the project. I DON’T recommend sending the same message over and over again. If you like the job and think you can do it then you have to convince the poster. In simple terms, you can to sell yourself.

Here’s the template I use as a base:

Hello there,
I just saw your post on /r/forhire and I’m interested!
I’m a Frontend Developer with 3+ years of experience designing and developing beautiful web and mobile interfaces. I’m an attention to detail freak and love to develop clean and easy to read code.
Here are some of the websites I have worked on in the past year:
%LINKS TO YOUR BEST PROJECTS%
I’m in the EST Timezone and I’m available for 20-30 hours per week.
My email is %YOUR EMAIL% and my skype is %YOUR SKYPE% in case you want to contact me directly, I’m online right now in both if you want to chat.
IThanks,

Vivian

There’s a caveat to this method. To see the latest [Hiring] posts you either need to be visiting that subreddit constantly or subscribe to their RSS, but that RSS will ALL posts so you’ll be notified even when it’s not a [Hiring] post.

I personally like to be one of the firsts to apply to I’ll share with you my techniques to get ONLY the [Hiring] posts.

Technique #1 — Use IFTTT

What I like about IFTTT is that is free and very easy to use. You create ‘applets’ that let two websites/services interact with each other. An applet consists on a ‘Trigger’ and an ‘Action”.

image

Once you’re on that screen you click on ‘this’ and choose Reddit and then you choose “New post from search” as the trigger. You then use this text in the search box:

title:'[hiring]’ OR flair:Hiring reddit:forhire

What that means is that we’re using Reddit’s unique search operators to search for posts that have [hiring] on the title or have a flair of Hiring and are in the /r/forhire subreddit.

Then you click on “Create trigger”.

The next part is to setup your Action. Here you specify how you want to be notified of the new post. I personally like email but you can use slack if you want. I’ll leave the configuration to you.

Now the main advantage of this technique is that its free. The main disadvantage is that its not instantaneous. IFTTT takes a while to run the applet so you may be notified hours after the post was made.

I didn’t like that so I came up with another technique.

Technique #2 — Use Zapier

Zapier is a cool alternative to IFTTT, its faster and it has more features. This technique uses the paid version to get the data faster and filter it.

So, what you need to do is create a multi-step zap (its the same concept as an applet from IFTTT, only more advanced).

The first step is to get /r/forhire RSS (I’ll save you the trouble, here it is.

Then you need a step to filter the RSS to only send you notifications for posts having [Hiring] on the title. See here:

image

Then you configure the way you want to be notified. Again, I use email but you can also get notified via slack.

The cheapest paid plan (about $20/month) should be enough for you. The cool thing is that, in this plan, the zap would run every 15 minutes so you would be notified very quickly of the post and be able to respond fast.

So that’s it for this method. Hope you find it useful.