Whether you’re tired of being stuck at a dead end job or want to enjoy a flexible schedule, you’ve decided to make the move and become a freelancer.
Despite having the drive and knowledge in a specific area of expertise, there’s one task that will determine the fate of your freelancing career; landing clients. This isn’t the easiest of tasks, but if you follow those 8 tips, you’ll be on your way to securing new clients in no time.
1. Know Thy Clients
Identifying your target audience isn’t just for marketers or businesses. It’s also an important process for freelancers. The best part? You should already have a an idea of clients that you want to work with without conducting any sort of market research. For example, if you’re a photographer specializing in weddings, then you already know your target audience.
Instead of casting too wide of a net, narrow down your potential clients and build profile on them so that you’re aware of their demographics, hobbies, income, and where they hang out online. With that knowledge, you can begin creating content and offers specifically for them.
2. Always Be Prepared
This should be an ongoing process that freelancers need to continually work on since it involves several steps.
For starters, when I say that you need to prepared, I’m talking about getting the basics out of the way. Have a website. Build an online portfolio. Be active on social media. Get business cards made. Practice your elevator pitch. You never know who’s searching for you online, or who you’ll run into at a mixer, family party, or conference. You need to have some evidence that you’re a left freelancer who can provide a service.
Another part of being prepared is knowing what the competition is up to. This includes everything from how much they’re charging for their services, how clients have discovered them, and how you can differentiate yourself from them. That doesn’t mean that you have to be enemies, your fellow freelancers could become an assist for you, which I’ll discuss later. This means that you can share and trade ideas, advice, or even potential client leads.
Finally, revisit the profiles of your potential clients. You should have already done your homework and found out what makes them tick? How can you be an assist? When you do have a chance to talk business with a client, you should be able to answer those questions without hesitation.
3. Cold Calling/Emailing
I loathe cold calling and emailing. It just feels sleazy to me. Besides. I’d rather be working than bothering people with soliticion. The thing is, if you don’t have any clients, you can’t work. That means that cold calling and emailing is a necessary evil. And, many freelancers have had success with landing new clients simply by picking up the phone or sending an email.
The most important piece of advice to remember when cold calling/emailing is that you’re reaching your target audience. Again, it wouldn’t make sense for a wedding photographer to contact a recently retired couple. Put together a list of the clients that you want to work with and start contacting them. Do you due diligence ahead of time and make sure that your pitch explains how you can help them. And, make sure that you’re talking to the right person.
One excellent tool that I’ve found that has made cold contacting a little more pleasant in PitchBox. Basically, it does all the grunt for you in discovering relevant contacts in your industry and provides you with their contact information so that you can scale back on the research and focus on your pitch.
4. Build a Lead Generating Website
This should be one of the first tasks that you have done. It might take a little bit of time to get up and running, but once your site is up, it really doesn’t take much to manage it except adding new content. Plus, it’s incredibly cheap. WordPress is free and you can purchase a domain name and hosting at GoDaddy for under $10.
At the minimal, your website should have a good design that reflects your brand or industry and is responsive so that it works on multiple device. Your domain name should either be your name or at least describes your profession. It also needs to include examples of your work, a bio, testimonials, and contact information.
When constructing your site, don’t forget that it’s optimized for SEO. This means having the right keywords in place. Keywords are what the search engines use to discover your website whenever performs a search query. For example, if you’re a photographer in Chicago, then a common search term would be “Chicago wedding photographers.” Those are the keywords that you need to focus on. WordStream as a great keyword planner tool is you need help with keywords.
If you need some inspiration, Carol Tice from Make A Living Writing shared 10 incredible freelance writer websites that have been able to attract clients.
5. Get Social
You’re probably tired of hiring this tip. But, it’s probably the best way to land new clients. However, when I talk about getting social, I’m not just solely talking about social media.
While it’s imperative that you have completed profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, you also need to know how to leverage those channels as a freelancer by interacting with others and creating unique content. On top of that, create a profile on Meetup and answer questions on sites like Quora.
Besides social media and typical networking sites, don’t hesitate in looking for work on freelancing websites and job boards. If you become a frequent freelancer on these locations, you may eventually meet a recurring client.
Finally, you need to get out from behind the computer and attend as many industry events as possible. Face-to-face meetings are still a preferred method in establishing a relationship with a prospective client.
6. Team Up With Other Freelancers
As I mentioned earlier, your fellow freelancers can be used to help you secure a new client. One of the classic examples is when a copywriter and web designer partner up. The writer may land a sweet gig building a website, but because they don’t have experience in that industry they would have to turn the job down unless they’re working with a designer – and vice versa.
What’s great about freelancing is that even if you’re in the same field of expertise, we all have experience in different niches. A group of writers could become a team because one writer is skilled at online marketing, another is a respected entertainment blogger, and the final writer was a former CTA so they financial advice.
7. Offer Incentives
When you first start out, you want to tell everyone in your current network like friends, family, and former colleagues, that you’ve made the switch. Even if they don’t require your services, they may spread the word. And, there’s nothing better than getting that word-of-mouth referral.
You can sweeten things up with existing network, and even your current clients, by offering an incentive if they bring you a new client. This incentive could be a discount for future services or even a commision.
8. Don’t Burn Bridges
This doesn’t mean that you have to become a pushover. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t fire a client when thing aren’t working out. It means that even if you part ways with your former employee or client, they’re still an assist. In fact, every contact that you have matters. Make a strong impression on them by delivering quality work on a timely manner. Be professional and thankful for the work that they’ve provided. And, stay in touch.
Even if you are no longer working for a client, they may refer you to a colleague. And, there’s also the chance that they would rehire you when they get swamped with work. Do you think any of that will happen if you part on bad terms?