Freelance Jobs - Where Are Your Clients?

By Gnifrus Urquart

As a freelancer you need to take absolute responsibility for everything in your business. You must be able to win clients, you must price your services appropriately, you must ensure you complete your jobs and therefore get paid. The whole cycle starts with the first point though, you need to learn to consistently win clients.

Finding clients when you start freelancing is extremely important. Without clients, you will not make any money and you will quickly run out of money. You may as well just work a 9 - 5 job. But finding clients will be integral to your entire career as a freelance contractor. You must always find a way to close your next client to ensure you earn your next pay packet.

So how do you get clients? There are a number of methods you can use to win clients, some of which we have summarised below. Some of these are easier than others, some may suit you and some may not. To be honest, one could write a book on each one of these methods, but in this article I will keep it brief, so you get a good high level view.

1. Contacting Clients Cold

There are so many forms of communication these days, but the principle is the same. Just as a sales person will make cold calls, in this client acquisition strategy, you must contact your clients cold.

The principle is simple. You have to get out and contact your potential clients and sell your wares. To most people this is a very difficult job, as rejection rates are high (Ie. the number of potential clients who say "no" is much higher than those who say "yes".) You need to have a really positive attitude to rejection, to make this form of client acquisition work. Having said that, I have never met a person who has mastered the art of cold contacting, who wasn't a rich person. When mastered, its a skill which can be applied to any industry in the world. As such, this method of sales can then become another skill which you can freelance with.

2. Marketing and Advertising

Advertising is where you "spend money to make money. You basically buy up space on someone else's property (and by property I mean TV station, radio program, billboard, magazine, bus-stop, website etc) and put your sales pitch there. If your client sees the pitch, likes what they see, they call you and buy your services. Your advert does most of the selling, you just take orders and execute your services. A benefit of advertising is that obviously you can reach a wide audience. A disadvantage is that it costs money.

Successful marketing and advertising requires an investment of time and money. You need to research to ensure your campaign is positioned correctly. You need to test to find the mix of words, pictures, sounds and smells which will stimulate a positive reaction from your target audience. Until you find a campaign that works, your most important resources of time and money will constantly be drained. But when you find that one that works, its happy sailing for you my friend.

3. Networking and Referrals

This is an extension of cold contacting, albeit typically this type of client acquisition activity has a much higher success rate than cold contacting. As such, your tolerance for rejection does not have to be as high as it does for those going cold.

In a nutshell, referrals are about networking. Networking skills are really important no matter what job you have, but are even more so if you are freelancing. You are not being professionally responsible to yourself if you are not networking. It is basically a two way communication street. It is from your network that you pick up information about organisations who may need your skills and it is through your network that you are introduced to those people with a recommendations from someone you both trust. The recommendation based on trust is the critical part of the referral, this is where you'll win business over your competitors.

4. Use A Placement Service

This marketing technique depends on you asking yourself the following question "Who already has a relationship with my prospective clients?". Make a list. A placement service does not have to be a professional placement service, it can be an industry related organization you set up a joint venture with. If you can isolate organizations that already have your clients on their books, you might have an easier task if you sell yourself to that organization and get them to place you with your clients. I did this once with an ex employer of mine. I just paid them a percentage of what I earned, which I was happy to do as I had no marketing expenses anyway.

As you grow in your freelancing career, you'll quickly learn that there is no absolute and perfect way to find your next client. All of the above are proven methods in their own right, but the most successful freelancers, consultants and contractors will use a mixture of some or all of the above. - 29856

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