One question I hear quite a lot from writers just setting out on the path of freelancing is, How do I find, approach, and land clients?
I totally get it.
Finding potential clients, approaching them, and then landing paid projects can feel daunting.
Part of the reason it looms so large is because having clients is essential to earning an income. And the other part is because, while you rationally know that you’ll land far fewer clients than you approach, it stills feels like you’re being rejected, and it feels like you’re wasting time and spinning your wheels on all the prospects that don’t turn into paying clients.
The first step to getting started is to deliberately adjust the mindsets that are holding you back.
It’s not rejection.
Businesses will say no to your services for all sorts of reasons. It may be that they don’t work with freelancers. Or they don’t have a need right now. They could just be busy — too busy to connect with you even though you’re offering them a lifeline. It might even be that they don’t think you’re the right fit for their needs at the moment.
None of these are a commentary on you as a person. None of them are a rejection. Remind yourself of that every time you reach out to a prospect. If they say no, they’re not rejecting me, the timing just isn’t right.
Eventually, you want to become detached from the outcome. Don’t hang your hopes on any particular conversation leading to any specific result. Instead, look at every marketing conversation as valuable in its own right.
It’s not wasted time.
Every time you have a conversation with a prospective client, you’re honing your skills. You’re practicing. And the more you practice, while in the mindset that you’re practicing, the better and more confident you’ll get. Remind yourself of that every time you reach out to a prospect. This is an opportunity to practice how I present my services.
You have something valuable to offer.
And then there’s the mindset underlying these fears — that you need them more than they need you. Online, writing drives so much of what happens. It brings in traffic, generates leads, makes sales, nurtures connections, and so much more. You do that.
Every marketing conversation you have is an opportunity for you to get a feel for whether the particular client, the project, the product, and the company mission are a good fit for you. Yes, the client is assessing if you’re a good fit. But that goes both ways. Remind yourself of that. I want to evaluate if I would enjoy working with this company.
Often, overcoming these three fears — that you’ll be rejected, that you’re wasting your time, and that you don’t have anything of value to offer — is enough to help you break out of your inertia and begin making connections and having conversations. And eventually, those conversations will lead to clients, projects, and paychecks.
New on the Site
When you create a personalized roadmap for the year ahead, you set yourself up for success. Suzanna Fitzgerald shares her approach to this process in her latest Reality Blog, including the questions she asks herself and the information she reviews to give herself the strongest start possible.
User experience is important. It can mean the difference between happy customers and unhappy ones… or no customers at all. But traditional UX isn’t the only kind of UX that matters. Giving your client the best user experience when they work with you is essential, too. Brad Dunsé brings this lesson home using a recent experience he had as an example.
Do you have a professional onboarding process for your clients? If not, you should consider building one. It will make the process of landing clients easier, and it will add authority to your business as a whole. Use this guide to get started.
Mark Your Calendar
January 20: Speaking of user experience (UX), that’s the topic of our next live event. During this event, I’ll be reviewing several examples of the user experience online, talking through what works, what doesn’t, and what changes would help. Even more fun… you can suggest a site for me to review during this session! The only catch is it can’t be a site you own. And of course, depending on the number of submissions I receive, I can’t guarantee that I’ll use your suggestion. You can send me your site suggestions here. Details for the event will posted soon.
Around the Web
While this is about using language to build a strong, successful company culture, I think it applies to us as freelancers, too.
Here you’ll find a few ideas to help your clients show their customers they care.
While these bad habits are all about blogging, they definitely apply to us as freelance writers, as well.
If you publish content regularly (or if your clients do) consider using a scorecard to measure which content is performing the best. You can find an example here.
That’s all for now. Make it a great week!
P.S. If you’re interested in writing for nonprofits and causes, you’ll want to make time for this next Inside AWAI live event. It’s free to attend. You can sign up right here.