Those having a hard time getting their freelance business off the ground say that finding clients is their biggest hurdle. However, for those who’ve been doing this for years now, looking for new ones is still something they struggle with.
Why is that? Knowing there’s plenty of fish in the sea and having a valuable skill to offer in return for getting paid, doesn’t seem to be enough to make freelancers confident in their expertise.
These are a few big mistakes contractors make when looking for new clients. If you are aware of them and avoid them at any cost from here on, landing new and big clients, and even keeping them, will get easier.
Once you do that, you’ll also make your income more stable, will be able to have a higher standard of living, and will feel like a busy professional.
So, let’s see what these mistakes are:
1. Overlooking the importance of personal branding
The way it works in the digital world today is this: you have something valuable that you want to offer to a target audience,become known in your niche first, build a name for yourself, and prove you have the expertise.
If that’s done right, you’ll also see the power of word of mouth marketing, by being referred to others by happy clients.
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Personal branding is a key element of your online business. You can just join sites for freelancers and start pitching potential employers, hoping they will choose you.
But it’s much, much better if you have already built your own platform, have designed it well, have presence on social media, and are creating content (be it articles, video, audio or visual; or better yet, a combination of all these).
For instance, an employer is much more likely to hire a freelance writer who’s providing relevant samples that are published on their own blog, and also on bigger publications where he’s been a contributor.
What about someone who’s published a short eBook on Amazon, has appeared on a few podcasts in their niche, has a big following on Twitter and is sharing updates frequently, or somebody with a professional and detailed portfolio on their website?
That will definitely increase your chances of landing more clients.
2. Not defining the ideal client
With so many fields, markets, topics, types of freelance work, business models, individual employers or companies, it’s hard to meet all needs.
It’s much better if you invest your time in clearly defining the potential client, and thus seeing where you can find people like that.
Knowing them means you’ll also use their language in your proposal. You’ll be confident in your ability to provide them with what they need. And with every next client you’ll be building authority in this exact niche.
So if you haven’t identified who this ideal client is, don’t put it off anymore. You’re only missing out on the right people to work with by connecting with those who are in a different market, or who don’t value your expertise enough.
That’s a painfully familiar issue for almost any freelancer out there, especially if you’re just starting out.
Underpricing your services might happen when you have no previous work to show, are scared by the competition, or insecure about your income (so you’d take up more work for less money).
However, that’s hurting you and your reputation more than you know.
For a start, when a potential client sees the lower rate you’re proposing, they will assume your quality will be that low too. It’s like cheap goods, really. You won’t expect them to last long.
Also, by doing this you attract the wrong type of clients. You won’t excel in your freelancing career if every client pays you ridiculously low sums of money, and yet you seem to be working all the time.
What can you do about this?
Stop underpricing your work. Show that you value it. Research what others in your niche are making, and use it as the basis.
Then, consider the time and effort each job takes you, whether or not the client is asking for too many revisions or expecting a lot of work on the side from you.
All that matters. Don’t let others control your salary.
4. Not making connections in your free time
While freelancing is often a one-man business, and can lead to a pretty isolated lifestyle, this is only a matter of choice.
Networking is something every entrepreneur or small business owner is doing. And it goes beyond following up with emails, being on social media, or knowing your competition.
True networking must become a habit.
It’s anything from handing out your business card whenever you have the chance and joining all forums in your niche and participating in them, to attending conferences and being active in Facebook groups, on LinkedIn and Reddit.
You never know where you’ll find your next lead. So make sure you’re meeting (online or in real life) people all the time. Also, don’t just look for other freelancers, or people in your field. Expand your circle.
5. Not solving a problem
Everything business-related, and worth paying for, is about solving a problem. In your case, you’re helping your client solve a problem with your services.
That can be helping him build a professional site so that he can offer a seamless shopping experience to buyers, or coding a software product for a company that wants to expand their reach and is targeting mobile users.
Whatever it is, be aware of the exact problem – define it clearly. Then, describe how exactly your work can solve it, and save your clients either time or money (the two things we always want more of).
This will also make your vision resonate to that of your client, and he’s more likely to hire you to achieve it.
So, which of these mistakes are you making? What’s stopping you from being a better freelancer and finding new clients? Let me know in the comments.
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