Getting clients as a freelancer (whether new or experienced) can be the biggest challenge we face. I recently hosted a poll to see where some of my audience felt the most struggle, and lo and behold – getting clients was the most overwhelming response. I’ve created a series (now available for purchase here) that launched on Facebook (in July 2017).
But today we are going to cover 5 things you can work on right now, this week, in your business to start getting clients AYE-ESS-AYE-PEA my friend.
SURVEY + STUDY YOUR POTENTIAL DREAM CLIENT
In the series we dive into a bit about really nailing down your target client, so if you’re stuck there, definitely check it out. Otherwise, if you know who this person is… you’ve got to also figure out what is causing them anguish or strife in their lives/business (that you can help with).
First, you could find, or maybe you already know, THE dream person you want to work with. I have a running list of people I’d probably lose a finger or two (non-essential ones, obvi) to work with. Then – turn your creep vibes up – and study what they are currently doing versus what they want to do. Read their Instagram captions or watch their stories. Read their blog posts. Heck, connect in their comments and ask for more information about whatever it seems they might be stuck on, struggling with, or limited by. This takes some sleuthing and some assuming, but figuring out what the struggle they are facing is (so that you can create something to resolve that struggle) will have clients lining up out the door for that service.
An alternative would be to do a poll, maybe within a Facebook group, of people you potentially want to work with. I’d be descriptive in who you want to actually complete the poll – i.e. “designers within their first year of business, I have a few questions for you”. Getting people to do the poll might prove difficult, so it might be helpful to offer some sort of incentive or give away for a lucky, random winner.
BARTER/TRADE TO IMPROVE + GET SEEN
I never, ever recommend working for free but I do see a huge benefit in bartering or trading services for a few reasons:
- Maybe you really need XYZ to move forward in your business (social media management or new headshots)
- Maybe you have no testimonials to share of your work/experience/expertise
- Maybe you have no audience, no way to build an audience right now, etc.
If you’re thinking, “yas gurl!” then consider finding someone that can help you with one or all of those reasons that in exchange you can help with your services.
Testimonials and word of mouth referrals are such an asset when it comes to getting clients. If you’re starting from square one you can get both of those things from delivering awesome experiences to people without necessarily asking them to fork over money (but definitely get something in the exchange – ideally something you really need to help your business grow. Do NOT work for just “exposure” and run away from anyone that tries to tell you that you should do free work for them for “exposure”.) I would trade for things like a website, good headshots, copywriting, etc. if you’re just starting out. In my experience, I’ve traded for business coaching (and saw big returns because of it).
An even better alternative and what I did was trade, but still charged money just at a discounted rate. So they get my ‘super special friends and family rate’ (just kidding, I don’t have that, my friends and family still have to pay (ha!)), and I get whatever it is I need. Of course I over delivered and you should too, always, and in return got a great testimonial, lots of referrals, etc.
Side note on that, I think it’s totally fine to be up front with what you are hoping to gain from the relationship. Better that they know you are hoping for a stellar testimonial, then get to the end of working together and they want you to sign some sort of NDA where no one can know you worked together.
ANALYZE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA (+ STOP WASTING TIME)
Asking anyone that has reached out to you for work or that you’ve worked with how they found you can be hugely beneficial. If no one is ever connecting with you via Twitter, I think it’s safe to abandon Twitter.
I’m not a huge analytics junkie, but I do look at what sends the most traffic to which page on my site. Pinterest sends a lot of traffic to my site and I want a lot of people end up on my services page – so I should use Pinterest to get people to my services page, right? Right!
If you’re super devoted to a social media platform but not necessarily seeing results from it, take the time to shift how you are using it. Maybe you love Instagram, but instead of showing cool pictures of your succulents and latte art exclusively, you could incorporate some call-to-actions about working together, or some ‘exclusive special bonuses’ only for your Instagram tribe, etc.
Social media is 100% about being social, I totally agree – but I also don’t want you to waste time in things that have little to no ROI in your business. So make social media work for you, as well as be something you enjoy doing and connecting over.
MAKE IT CLEAR YOU ARE AVAILABLE FOR HIRE
Do people even know you’re available to hire for whatever it is that you do? Do you advertise that on your social media, in your newsletter, etc.? I don’t have a fancy statistic, but I will say that in my experience a lot of us (especially women) tend to be intimidated by sales or promoting ourselves.
I get it - sales scare me too sometimes. I used to schedule video consult calls and then pretend my video wasn’t working because I’d be so nervous to look someone in the (virtual) eye while trying to get them to pay me. But with this point I’m not even talking about actual sales, I’m just talking about making it clear what you do – that you are available for hire – and that you are good at what you do.
Schedule some tweets that you are taking on clients. Throw in your newsletter how many spots you have available next month. Let people know you are open for business. Better yet, share with people you know in person! I’m the guiltiest of not sharing what I do with people ‘in person’ but the minute I do, I get so much interest/people wanting to work together. Get yourself out there!
REACH OUT, FOLLOW UP, AND FOLLOW UP AGAIN
I know how awkward and hard pitching people can be, but if you know in your heart there is someone that you could really help and would be a great asset to them and their business – I say go for it. Be polite, be humble, be kind, and all that, but be honest: I could help you with XYZ, which would ultimately allow you to do XYZ.
If that’s just impossible and you’re shaking your head right now, then find other ways to connect. Watch their stories on Instagram, and respond when they prompt you to. Comment on blog posts. Retweet, etc. Be a part of their business and on their radar, so that if and when the opportunity arises for you to talk about working together, they already know who you are and know that you care about and support their business.
When someone contacts you about working together, and you respond, and hear crickets – follow up again! So many times I hear, “oh my gosh! Yes! Sorry XYZ happened and I forgot to respond” and then I get a client from it. Don’t be obnoxious or anything, but give it a week of no response and just ask if they had any other questions or would like to set up a call. It’s polite, and normal. I give you permission to follow up!
* please note: the series was held July 10-13th and is complete. You can access the content by clicking here!
I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!