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The autonomy and independence of a freelancing is invigorating, however, it can be challenging to find regular work. Here are some ways to attract new clientele and form stronger relationships with existing and prior clients. 

Existing clients

Once a client, always a client! Oh, if only it were that easy. Retaining clients can be tricky. People are often looking for the next best thing, better deals, etc. So if you have not impressed your clients the first time around you might be working extra hard to get them back.

Being successful in your work will be much easier if you have a loyal client base who come to you when they are in need. Even if you have impressed your client after the first project that will not guarantee they come back to you for future work. You will need to maintain a relationship with each client even after the first business interaction has concluded. There will always be someone new contacting your clients trying to gain their business!

Here are some customer retention strategies you can use to stay top of mind with prior and existing clients:

Request feedback on your work

Refer to your clients by name or address the company directly. Keep the email polite and concise. Ask your client 1-3 questions that could help you improve your work for future clients.  

Build and maintain relationships

Periodically contact previous customers through emails, phone calls, event invites, special offers etc.

Ask previous clients for reviews and referrals

Sample review request email:

Sample referral request email:

 

Professional network

Your professional network can be key to obtaining new business. If you are willing to help people in your network they will likely want to help you out in return. Here are some tips to help you grow and utilize your existing freelancing network:

  1. Attend industry events such as conferences, workshops and social events. When attending these events have your pitch prepared in advance so it comes out naturally in conversation when you meet a potential client. Also, be sure to carry your business cards with you to these events.
  2. Join a business association related to or in need of the work you offer.
  3. Run your own workshops.
  4. Contribute to online forums.  

Search freelancing job sites

There are plenty of job sites specific to freelancers that you can use to start your quest for clients. If you want to make your search easier you can use the Opportunities application, which has combined more than a dozen freelancer job sites.  

Cold sourcing

Cold calling and cold emailing are probably one of the more daunting tasks for freelancers and entrepreneurs. People are busy. No one likes wasting time reading irrelevant emails or answering phone calls from people they don’t know. Often emails get deleted without being read and phone calls are ended before a pitch can begin. Let’s explore how you can increase success from cold sources – before you send out another 30 emails and make any more calls.

Pitch to the right clients

The first step to landing a job is choosing the right clients. Each freelancer has a very specific set of skills and services they are most qualified for. Those skill sets are your niche. Therefore, it is important to contact clients that require a service you can offer. It is equally important to find clients whom you wish to work for. The better the match the easier landing the client will be and the more likely you will be to have a recurring business relationship.

Every freelancer has an idea of the type of work they can and would like to do. Though, some freelancers may need to refine their skill set and determine a niche for themselves that encapsulates the type of work they want to pursue. Thus, a good place to start is by brainstorming the set of skills you have and what you plan on offering your clients. 

For example, you might be a photographer. Yet, you cannot stand working with infants and children, because you can’t quite seem to connect with that audience. If your preference is for weddings, then try to seek out mostly clients who require wedding photography or anything related, such as engagements, engagement parties and bridal showers. Another example might be a copy writer who s just starting out. Of course they may want to take any work they can find to start, but it would be much better to be writing copy for things you are familiar with (ie business versus technical or scientific, versus travel).

Highlight your unique qualities as a freelancer

As a freelancer you have certain qualities that the competition doesn’t. What qualities can you provide to your customer? How will the customer benefit by choosing you to get the job done? It is up to you to decide what your unique qualities are. Write them into a list and put them in your pitch to clients. Depending on the type of work you do you can highlight your unique style in your portfolio. 

Contact potential clients directly

If you know of companies and clients who could benefit from your services make an effort to contact the person who will hire you directly. If you cannot find access to the direct point of contact within a company you may start by developing a relationship with another point of contact within the company who is accessible to you. Use social media as a tool when possible such as tweeting at a potential client or retweeting your potential clients posts; commenting on blogs or other media posts; sending e-mails to ask questions regarding their work.  The more you network the more likely you are to land a potential client either directly or through a referral.

How to write a cold e-mail:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of your client: personalize your message
  • Be specific and to the point
  • Include a call to action

Cold e-mail pseudo-script

Hi (Client name),

First paragraph: (Introduce yourself and the work you do. Briefly describe what you are offering and/or how it will benefit the client.) 

Second paragraph: (Personalize the message for the client.)

(Call to action.)

Regards,

(Your name)

Resources: Cold email subject linecold email tipscold emails to convert new clients

How to make a cold phone call:

  • Concisely explain your purpose
  • Use a sales script
  • Call decision makers or buyers
  • Ask the prospect to commit to a time that works for them

Resources: Cold call templates; template, cold call tips here, here, and here.

Cold call script

Goal – Convert an interruption into a conversation and book an appointment. Do not try to sell you services or product.

Script (C = client; S = Seller)

C: Hello, Joe speaking
S: Hello, Joe. Have I caught you at a bad time?
C:

  • Yes (hangs up)
  • No (rare)
  • Yes…but what is this about

S: Yes, so again my name is (your name) and the purpose of my call is to get 10-15 minutes in your calendar next week for an introductory call to formally introduce myself and my company.
C: What is this regarding? / Who are you?
S: Thanks for asking.

  • Have you ever heard of (your company name)?
  • Say your name and the service you are offering.

C: Yes / No / Who are you?
S: (Give y
our elevator pitch) We work with companies like (name companies in their industry or companies they may know) but I know your very busy so again my purpose here today is just to see if I could have 10-15 minutes in your calendar next week to explain in greater detail how I can help companies like yours.
S: Would early or middle of next week work for you?
C: Middle of next week is okay.
S: Is Morning or afternoon better for you?
C: Afternoon.
S: Great, next Wednesday I have 2:20 or 3:45 available. Which one works best for you?
(Always ask closed end questions with odd times. Don’t say what time is good for you.)
C: 3:45 should work out.
S: Okay, great so I’m going to send you over an invite over email so that you will get a reminder. What is the best email to send this to?

 

Whether you are just starting out or you already have a healthy freelance client portfolio it is never a bad idea to perfect your cold sourcing techniques and continue to grow your professional network. Finally, remember to keep building meaningful relationships so that you have long lasting relationships with your clients.

If you need help finding freelance jobs, please feel free to check out our opportunities application. Share your thoughts with us about this article! Let us know if any of these tips have helped you out and feel free to leave some advice of you own.

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