How I get $1000+ freelance clients consistently as a software developer (5 ways that work)

Don’t make the same mistake I did.

I used to spend hours cold-emailing strangers and applying to random low-quality job listings.

I thought it was all a numbers game.

But it was a complete and utter waste of time.

The truth is there are only 5 major strategies that work — and they are NOT easy (sorry).

If you use them blindly like 95% of people do: you will fail.

Or you get flaky, low-quality clients — if you’re lucky.

1. Build your 1st party network the right way

Most ways of networking are just a waste of time for freelancing.

Either they don’t work or it’s not worth it.

I don’t follow the tired clich├ęd advice of attending network events and meetups.

You will achieve much faster results online.

2 major ways I use:

  • Internal network building

My primary strategy.

I meet new people from people already in my network on WhatsApp and my email contacts.

These people end up either becoming clients or referring me to clients.

But it won’t work when you don’t have any network in the first place.

In that case, you’ll do:

  • External network building

You deliberately search for new people on social platforms — LinkedIn and Twitter are the best.

But you won’t just add any random people — quality matters just as much as quantity.

They need to meet specific criteria:

Example: if you already have a client in mind, you’d search for people in their network — like employees of the company.

2. Join an exclusive freelance network

This was by far the easiest way for me.

Building your network from scratch gives you more control — but it takes a lot of time, effort, and planning.

This is much faster.

In the networks I’m in I get offered at least 3 new freelancing opportunities every single day.

I don’t accept them all but when I do — these are no-nonsense clients with serious budgets.

But the hard part was finding legit networks and getting entry — they’re called exclusive for a reason.

3. Use freelancing platforms properly

Upwork is dead!

No it’s not. If it’s dead then where is their $1,400,000,000 market cap coming from?

You’re using it wrong. Simple.

For a start:

  • Don’t be a generalist:

“Programmer” won’t get you far.

“Next.js web developer” is much better.

“Next.js web developer building AI chatbots” is powerful.

  • Don’t expect fast money

I can tell you for free — starting from scratch on any online platform is no easy feat.

But once you get past a certain point, all the initial focus and consistency will be worth it.

  • Don’t be intimidated by the competition

A job may have 50+ proposals but many of the applicants are just mass-buying connections and spamming with AI.

You’ll stand out greatly if you personalize your cover letter.

4. Create “content”

And by content I don’t only mean posting on social media or blogging.

“Content” also includes your portfolio — on GitHub and more.

It means creating significant projects in your niche and talking about them.

It means sharing your experience and teaching others what you know.

Your discoveries, ideas, opinions, and what you’re passionate about.

You will boost your visibility and improve your chances of attracting great opportunities.

5. Run targeted ads

I put this one last because it’s quite risky.

Without a well-defined strategy, you’ll end up wasting money and getting nothing out of it.

You’ll need to run extremely targeted ads on Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook — and constantly refine your approach to see any real results.

Follow one or more of these strategies with persistence and you’ll eventually find high-quality clients.

Key points

Recap: 5 major ways to find $1000+ freelance clients as a software developer:

  1. Build your 1st party network
  2. Join an exclusive freelance network
  3. Use freelancing platforms properly
  4. Create content and code
  5. Run paid ads


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