The home office is ready and organized, you’ve bought all the necessary equipment, cleared your schedule, and read everything you can get your hands on about being a freelancer. Now that you’ve brought together what you need in order to jump start your new venture, are you ready for your first freelancing project? Can you now take that next step, which is to look for clients? In this growing industry, the ratio of client to freelancer is fast becoming smaller, so the competition is also getting tougher. There will be others who will provide the lowest bid just to get their feet inside the door. How then can you ensure that your proposal will be considered?
Most clients are swamped with numerous tasks needed to run their business, which is why they are looking for someone to take some of the burden; may it be creating content for their website, a virtual assistant who will organize their day, a support team to interact with their customers, or an IT person to solve their technical issues. Hence, they don’t have much time to read through and evaluate your application or bid. Here are tips on how you can get them to pay attention:
Get to know the company or business that you’re eyeing.
A lazy freelancer will get nowhere and sending copy pasted letters to prospective clients will not help your cause. Do your due diligence; learn about the business and their needs. With all the information available online, almost everything is accessible; from the name of the person who makes the decisions to the services or products they offer. Utilize all the tools at your fingertips, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other websites that will give you an idea of how they operate and where you will fit in. Are they struggling to create content for their blog? Are their social media sites bereft of any updates? Have they never utilized other resources such as Podcasts? You may not be able to use all the information at once, but it will eventually help you in convincing the client that you’re just exactly what they need, if and when you get an interview.
Showcase your strength.
Do you have an experience in a field that other companies are not too familiar with? Maybe you are a whiz at Quickbooks or a genius in project management, which will be valuable to a start up company. Do you have years of experience in customer support or maybe you’ve been a part of a government agency that specializes in contracts? Are you familiar with tax laws in a certain country? These are skills that will set you apart from other freelancers and will add value to your application.
Be direct with what you are offering.
Clients don’t care much for fluff. They want a fix for their problems and if your proposal cannot provide even a hint of a solution, they will move on to the next one. Don’t try to be funny or too casual in your approach as it may not be appreciated, unless you personally know that it is their culture in the company. Be confident and state what you can offer, but don’t be arrogant about what you know. Also, never pretend that you are proficient in a given task just because it is part of what the client is looking for. Most business owners have already gone through all of the roles that they will be asking you to take on, so they know if you are bluffing or not. It is better to be honest and let them know that you are willing to learn on the job than for them to find out later that you misled them.
Draft, edit and proofread your proposal.
One of the worst things you can do is send a proposal with lots of mistakes on it, be it grammatical or typographical. There is no way you can convince a potential client that you will be efficient and committed to the tasks they will assign if you can’t even polish your own work. If drafting letters is not your forte, have a friend or a professional take a look at it and ask for their input. You can utilize Facebook groups for freelancers and ask for their opinion and advice. Do not be content with just one round of editing or proofreading. If you can read through it a few times after a couple of others have done so, it will help to ensure that mistakes are minimized if not eradicated.
Send your proposal and make a follow up if you don’t hear back.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t get a response from a would be client, but more often than not, it is not because they don’t like your ideas, especially if you did your homework. In most cases, they were just too busy or what you sent fell into the wrong department or person. Keep track of your bids and make sure that you send a follow up to ensure that it was received and to ask for status.
Always have a back up plan.
Rejections will be a part of your life when you become a freelancer. Remember, you are selling your skills, but you’re not the only fish in the pond. It is always better to have a plan B or C in case things do not turn out the way you envisioned it. Take the brush off as lessons to learn from, review it and check where you may have made a mistake or lack something that contributed to the outcome. It will teach you to be better the next time and you will finally get that first client.
Amaze your client.
You closed the deal. Great! This is not the culmination of your dreams. Your work has just begun. A freelancer’s reputation is extremely important, so safeguard yours by doing an efficient job and providing your client with a satisfactory performance. Word of mouth is a powerful tool in this business, especially if you don’t have the resource yet to put your work out there for everyone to see. Your future is created by what you do today.