A substantial portion of a freelancer’s time is spent acquiring work. It’s one of the most important and bewildering parts of this line of work. Most creatives are not salespeople, nor are they particularly interested in acting like one.
However, there is a way to convince a client to spend money on you and your services without coming across as a sleazy salesman. Here’s how:
It’s a matter of relationships and connections, not numbers. Client and freelancers should engage in a relationship more akin to a partnership than a transaction. This means making sure your client is the right fit for you (and you for them). Not every engagement will end in a sale, but meaningful interactions bear fruit that isn’t necessarily monetary.
Go for solutions instead of sales. When you engage a potential client, you need to be an active listener in order to understand them and their business. By understanding how a client’s business functions, you understand their needs and you can offer your services in a way that speaks to those specific needs.
People want emotion, but they need reason. If you’ve followed these tips up to this point, you should have a good idea of what will get your client excited (in a purely professional way). Support emotionally-inspiring claims with evidence that justifies them, such as past successes and established practices. Offer your client something they both want and need.
Make sure to manage expectations. Client’s are rarely interested in understanding the jargon and technical aspects of a freelancer’s work, but they are interested in knowing how the freelancer’s work can serve their needs. In addition, clarifying with a client what you expect out of a working relationship will prevent ambiguity or resentment from arising down the line. This step is a key one in knowing if this relationship will be a worthwhile one.
Communicate however possible. Some clients prefer phone, some prefer email, and some operate on Facebook (my least favourite of these options). Try your best to communicate with them via their preferred channel. They will be much more receptive.
Perfect the follow-up. Make an earnest effort to check in with your worthwhile connections. If someone showed an interest in your work and you have an interest in working with them, there’s no reason not to touch base. Not every project gets off the ground, but it’s a lot more likely to if the client sees that you’re interested in taking it where it needs to go. Don’t nag anyone, though.
Sometimes, you have to sell your services to the highest bidder to survive.But, if you follow the tenets of this article as best you can, you will be better positioned down the line than if you didn’t.
At this point in my career, I spend far less time pursuing fresh leads relative to when I was starting out. I have connections, clients, and colleagues who will approach me because they know I’m interested in helping them and not just my bottom line. Sometimes, this means turning down work or offering it to someone more capable of completing it. But this also means a lot more potential work comes my way, and I have my pick of it.