on the origin of clients
I've been asked where I get clients by several friends and students. Everyone will have a different makeup of where their clients come from. For me, the breakdown is roughly this:
Here's the best advice I can give you about getting clients: Don't be a dick. Most of the work you'll get is from people you already know. If you have a reputation of being a hard worker and a good person, they'll probably trust you to do work for their friend's start up company and so on. If you have a reputation of being a dick, here's hoping the recruiters from LinkedIn can't tell from your profile. Let's break each down, quickly.
Try not to be an isolationist at work. If you're a designer, be friends with producers, developers, and business developers alike. In the event they move to a new job, it's likely they'll stay in the same industry and will need a good designer they like to work with. Be someone worth working with.
If you're a student, try this exercise: Treat your teacher like a boss. Chances are, they are a boss elsewhere anyway. Pretend each project is a job that you'll be getting paid for. Do it well and do it on time. They'll notice and maybe remember you when they're looking for someone reliable to take a job that's beneath their pay grade.
For the longest time I didn't have a website—I only had Behance. I got plenty of random people looking for things I did. Then, I scored a Dribbble invite and those random connections doubled. Make yourself a profile and be judicious about what you put up. Oftentimes people will reference a specific thing you did and want another just like it.
I got lucky. My friends are smart, talented, and kind. If they can't take a freelance job, they'll send it my way. I always do my best to return the favor. My non-designer friends know the value of good design and know to call me if they ever need help.
Random is writing an email to a news publication that says "Hey, I just like the work you do and I'd love to be a part of it. Please check out my portfolio". And magically, they do. Random is writing your name and email on a napkin and giving it to a charity worker you just met at a bar and never hearing back. Random rarely works but the important thing is that you try.
1. Don't be a dick
2. Treat coworkers, teachers, and peers with respect
3. Earn the reputation of being a hard worker
4. Make yourself visible online
5. Introduce yourself to people you want to work with