Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer
Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...
5 Ways to Win New Freelance Work
For those that have been freelancing forever and a day, this advice will undoubtedly be in your ongoing marketing strategy, but for those new to freelancing, or those yet to make the leap, here are 5 common-sense ways to winning new freelance jobs.
1. Work will not come to you, so be proactive
This may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many people rely on work finding its way to their doors or inboxes – which is not so much of a problem if you’ve exercised a certain marketing strategy that’s been very successful, and which continually has customers knocking on your door (though it’s likely this situation would end at some point…).
For everyone else, and the vast majority of freelancers out there, you have to be proactive in your approach to finding new customers and securing work. This means getting out into the marketplace, whether physically or virtually, and networking effectively to create leads.
2. Remember that people buy from people, and that your business is not about you
This may be a given for freelancers offering a physical product or service that involves interaction with their market, but if you run an online business and view social media as your main advertising tool, remember the importance of the word ‘social’. This means engaging your market, providing value and earning trust and respect, in the same way as you would in person.
If you went into any networking event and continually told everyone how fabulous you were, you’d quickly turn people off. Well, that ‘off’ switch applies online too, and you’ll wonder where your followers are sloping off to. Once you’ve engaged their interest, demonstrate or show how you can add value to their lives through information, advice or help. If they see you as an expert in your field, they’ll be more inclined to give you their business when they’re in need of it.
3. Don’t aim to emulate others’ success, offer something different
It’s no good modelling your business on one of your competitor’s and assuming there’s enough trade for the both of you. There certainly may be lots of work to go round, but the most successful business will be the one that takes a familiar business model and adds something different that improves the original offering. It doesn’t have to be something ground-breaking, just something that makes your business special. And when you find what that certain something is, make that the basis of your promotional efforts. This ‘add a value’ ethos works for completely new industries and business models, so find your USP and build on it.
4. Talk to your customers and ask for criticism
There’s nothing worse than assuming you know everything there is to know about your product, service or business. Being bloody-minded can be useful in some aspects of freelancing, but certainly not those pertaining to your customers. Beg for feedback and encourage it as much as you possibly can – your customers are the most important people in your business, more important than even you, so make sure you’re providing what they want, when they want it, if you want to win new business or continue receiving existing orders.
Once you have the custom and trust of a customer, don’t hesitate to ask for testimonials, referrals or promotion where necessary. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways of advertising your business, so make sure you don’t ignore this avenue when it comes to attracting new clients.
5. Constantly take stock; look backwards
If something isn’t working, change it. If you’ve tried one way of promoting your skills and it’s not been successful, try something else. Marketing can be a trial and error exercise, but learning from what hasn’t worked and trying to find out why could save you from repeating expensive mistakes.
Above all, make sure you’re thinking of the customer, and which of their problems your product or service is solving, when thinking how to sell to them. What benefit will they receive? What does this benefit look like, and how will it make them feel? Will it save them money, make them feel better, make them happier, allow them more freedom? Working out the answers to these questions, and similar ones beside, will help you to get into the psyche of your buyer and will give you clues as to what you need to say to them to firstly build a relationship and then win the sale.
These are only a few ways of winning new business, and can be applied at any time in your freelancing career. It’s always hard to see your service or products from a customer’s eyes, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want to be able to appeal to them and their wallets effectively.
Had Moses been commanded to write 10 business commandments on Mount Sinai, these points would have been in the final list. Always remember that the most important person in your business is your customer; when you’re trying to win new business, you need to be thinking of him.