5 Ways to Find Clients

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*******PREVIOUSLY POSTED JUNE 11, 2012**********

“I would like to pick up some freelance clients. Would love for you to do a blog post about where you find clients.” ~ J.G.

I started freelancing as a side business two years ago. I enjoyed the comfort of a full time income while developing and marketing my brand. Some personality types work well under pressure, but I do not have that personality. My method is more of the “worst case scenario” or “plan B” personality. This means that no matter how the freelance business went, I knew all my bills were paid from my full time job income.

The other benefit of working full time was the knowledge there would always be work because others at the company were in charge of bringing in the clientele. Taking the leap to freelancing meant I had to have clients in order to have a business. I am shy and not very outgoing, so I found it difficult at first to get past my limitations and have the confidence to approach potential client. Below are ways I have found clients.

Ask Your Boss

If you currently work full time, ask your boss if there is a possibility for working on a contract. I loved the company I worked for, but felt compelled to work from home while raising my newborn. I was the only technical writer and they wanted to retain my services. I work from their office once a week, which allows me the ability to “keep my foot in the door” if I ever decide to come back full time.

Twitter

Initially, this piece of social media seemed stupid in my opinion. I did not feel anything could be done in 160 characters. I WAS WRONG. By following other technical writers, I learned more about my industry through resources they share. I also followed editors as I wanted to jump more into manuscript editing. Explain to others in industry that you are looking for work if they have extra projects to pass on. Also, I follow authors and ask if they need book reviews.

The other benefit of Twitter is that I can post links when my blog is updated, so that brings traffic to my blog as well as the online portfolio.

Networking  

Although Twitter is a wonderful way to network to get your name out, so is talking to your family and friends. Make sure everyone you come in contact with has your business card and knows what type of work you do. I cannot tell you the number of clients I have received because a friend knew what I did.

Craig’s List

I have a posting in the resume section, as well as the work section of Craig’s List. It gives a basic idea of what work I do and it is area-friendly. Sometimes it is nice to work face to face and many clients like that I am local.

Comment On Blogs

Be sure to keep up with your industry. Search online for topics and blogs by not only your peers, but those whose business you are vying for. Read blogs and then add your comments. Every comment you make is a direct link back to your website. When someone enjoys your comment, they want to know more about you. I try to do this at least once a week.

What method do you use to find a new client? Practice step 5 and leave a comment below.

 

 

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Walking the plank is easier than direct marketing

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Every freelancer knows that you can only stay working when you have work to perform. Over the past couple years, I have worked a direct marketing company called Thirty One Gifts to help get over nerves of public speaking and marketing. To me, sometimes selling a tangible item, IE organizational bags and purses, is an easy test than selling a service.

I decided to perform direct marketing with my neighborhood. A brand new catalog season was just revealed and I am hosting an ice cream social at my house in honor of the new catalog launch. This is an excellent way to 1.) get to know the neighbors, 2.) get product in front of them, and 3.) open the door to conversation about my writing and editing business.

Networking is essential no matter the product or the service. The more people you tell, the more people can tell others and eventually, you could get a referral. I could tell myself this in my head a million times, but it does not change the fact that this freelancer is not thrilled about actually having to do the direct market. It is scary stuff and walking a plank or fighting a lion might seem easier some days. However, I took my son in his stroller and out we went. I will say I made it back home in one piece and we will see how successful turnout becomes.

What are your thoughts on direct marketing? Do you go door to door or how do you perform direct marketing?

Present Networking For Your Future

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I was reading this article on The Career News about how everything we say and do is a way to pitch ourselves to future clients. Being someone who has become used to those rejection letters it speaks of has me thinking. Rejection is really hard to take, especially when you know you are strong in your work ethic and skill set to be able to provide any future provider and excellent employee. The job search is a daunting process and is a knockdown blow to many unsuccessful seekers who might have high skills, but resort to under-employment just to have some type of paycheck to bring home.

As I think back to how I have achieved most of my jobs, it is not because I spent countless hours each week scouring all the job boards and papers I knew of (trust me, I did) but it was because during the time I was actively job hunting, I told everyone I knew that I was in the market for a job. Those I never thought would ever help me were the ones that overheard or knew of, or somehow had a connection or a clue of who I needed to talk to and directed me there. If I never thought to tell them I was in the market for a job, and being specific to what type of job, then they would have no idea to be on the lookout.

Also, staying honest with others when they might see you have a job lined up, be sure to speak up if it is A.) not what you are looking for but at least a paycheck while you are still looking, or B.) A temporary job that ends at such and such date. Your friends and acquaintances need to know your job status and what you are looking for. For instance, tonight I went to a cookout with some great friends of ours. They invited over some friends from our past and while it was wonderful to catch up with them, it was also interesting to hear about their current job endeavors and gave me the freedom to talk about my job. In the end, we decided our direct paths do not cross professionally, but we both learned more and will be able to keep ears open for possibilities.

I have also learned through my Thirty One business that not everyone has ever heard of the product. We were helping a friend’s family with a house project and they asked how the job was going. When the response is, “What job?” it means I have not done a good job keeping them in the loop. It also gave me the opportunity to mention temporary projects I am working on in my writing career, what types of jobs I am currently looking for, and it opened a door to mention my Thirty One business and the possibility of a party with her when they finish their house move.

Do you have a story of how your networking turned into a job or tips for networking? Tell us below.

Ten Things a Freelancer Can Do To Get Noticed

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Be your brand

 

Define the look and feel of your freelance company. Find your niche and focus directly on that product solely. It is easy to try to be all things to all clients in the beginning to find work. Instead, be the best at one thing instead of mediocre at too many things. If you are a writer, decide what medium you will write – such as blogging. Define your brand image specifically around the work you want. This includes every facet of running your business. If you want to be known for always meeting deadlines and working well with others, then your brand must portray that sense.

 

Tell all your friends what you do

 

Your friends and relatives will usually advocate your skills for you, but they need to truly understand what it is you do. Be sure you are educating your friends by letting them know first, that you are available and actively looking for work and second, what type of work you are looking for. They need to know more than you are a writer; they need to know what type of writing and what industry of writing you prefer.

 

Network, Network, Network

 

Join the local Chamber of Commerce and attend any of the various events. These social events are made up of other business representatives in the city and this is a perfect opportunity to get your brand name out there to others in the area. Also, be on the looking of anyone you could team up with to help recommend your services. If you are great at web design but not the greatest writer, pair up with a writer so the two of you can both take on a project together. This is a preference if you like to collaborate on projects.

 

Be on the lookout for any other organization to join. Some might have a cost but others may not. Look at who the members are, if the website hosts a job board, and how often the organization hosts events. These events can help you learn from others in the industry and could lead to tips for your own business.

 

Blog regularly

 

An easy way to show the world what you know is to keep a blog. By hosting a professional blog, write about your niche topic. This shows the depth of your knowledge in the field. When a potential client reads your work, this will be proof that you will get the job done because you know your craft. Decide how many times a week you will post to your blog. Your readers will come to expect a blog that is regularly updated by someone in the profession.

Research and comment on other blogs

 

Take the time to see what others are writing about your niche. Always stay current in the latest information in your field. Also, write comments whenever you can that are productive and show your knowledge or thank the author for their post. Commenting allows you the opportunity to leave your name and website link so others may click back to your site. Acknowledging other blogs helps gain community trust with is important for networking.

 

Create a professional Facebook page

 

Keeping a professional page separate from a personal page is a great way to keep your professional image sharp. Most blog posts automatically update your facebook status to help your readers know there has been a blog update. Use your personal page to invite all your friends to like your page. Friend other professionals as well as potential clients.

 

Join Twitter and twitter chats

 

The benefit of twitter is you can follow whoever you want and they do not have to follow you back – at least right away. This gives you an avenue to follow others in your niche field. If you are an editor, start following publishing companies. Also follow other editors. Many will post links to their professional blogs that will give you tips. I have found regular clients through Twitter just by chatting with them.

 

Mail out a sales letter

 

Create an advertising flyer that explains what you do. You can also include testimonials from previous employers. Highlight the benefits a company will have from using your services. Mail these fliers out to every business professional that might have a need for someone in your line of work. Do not include pricing information, but be sure to include your contact information and possibly a business card if you have one.

 

 

Stay organized

 

Freelancers take on a variety of projects at the same time. The way to keep ahead is to understand your limitations and know what your calendar looks like at all times. There are different methods depending on your own style, but find one and stick with it. When I take on a new deadline, I use an online calendar and piece out mini-deadlines so I can stay on pace and am not left at the last minute with more than I can handle. Understanding what each week looks like allows me to keep track of what new projects I can take on. Always have your calendar with you and be ready to schedule new consultations. With proper networking, these could happen anywhere.

 

Dress professional and keep a schedule

 

You might have always dreamed of working in your pajamas and this might be nice on occasion, but people act how they dress. If you take the extra few moments to dress for work, you will find you work harder and accomplish more during the work day. The phone voice is more professional and you can be ready to meet a new client. Sticking to a regular schedule during the workday helps keep the balance between work and home. It is too easy for a freelancer to always feel they are on the clock and never get out of the mindset. This can lead to burnout too quickly. Keeping to a schedule and separating home and work keep you wanting to increase your profile and seek out new projects. Friends and those you network with will be able to tell if you are a burned out freelancer and might not send work your way. Keep yourself professional and wanting the work.

Keeping to a schedule

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As a freelancer, you should always try to have a set schedule of hours for working on your business. This will keep you from burn-out and the feeling of always being in “work mode.” It also gives you the ability to separate personal from professional. Your family will come to understand that a certain time of the day you are not to be interrupted.

When it comes to new clients and phone calls, there are a few ways to handle calls.

First, keep a separate phone line and email for business. The reason this is good is because you can turn the phone off and not log into the email. This gives the best ability to keep strict office hours and not on that time. Voicemail will be there upon your return at your next scheduled work day. You will also need to keep the “itch” at bay to check messages and respond to emails outside of those hours. Touching base with customers will alert them that you are available at any given time.

Second, be available every second of every day. Okay so not exactly but it feels like it. Answer every phone call and always keep your calendar and a notebook nearby to write down any notes about the potential customer. The benefit for this method is your customer knows you are reachable to answer any questions they may have. The downside is if you are not prepared, you can sound like you are caught off guard. I have found most are understandable if you tell the client you are outside your office hours or between appointments right now. I keep a working notebook for just such an occasion for client notes and deadline information. Office hours are great when times are busy and you have the work, but when work is slow and the office may not always be open, it’s good to appear busy and reachable – without looking desperate.

Third, a combination of both options. It’s good to hold regular business hours and portray the image of a busy freelancing professional. However, it is okay to show you are available for new clients instead of appearing so busy you do not have time. the client wants to believe you take time out of your busy day to cater to their needs but also not so much that you are waiting by email and phone itching for them to give you a project. Appearing “on the go” but available for a few moments to chat helps portray that image. Let them know you have taken notes and will get back to them as soon as you get back to the office.

Being Sick Does Not Mean A Sick Day

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ARTICLE ORIGINALLY POSTED JULY 26, 2011
This design contains artwork that is © 2006-2008 FunDraw.Com.

When you are sick, the only thing you want to do is lay in bed and sleep off the illness. It is easy to call the full time boss and tell them you are not able to come in because you are sick. However, few contract clients care if you are sick when there is a deadline nearby.

As is my case today. Not only am I in my first trimester of pregnancy with all those lovely symptoms, I also have a head cold turning into a sinus infection. My head feels too heavy for my body. I have a major deadline this week and if this deadline got pushed back, it would interfere with other deadlines over the next couple months.

The best way to meet a deadline while sick is to first make a list of what must be done and leave off anything that can be left for another day. Then, make sure you are loaded up on necessary medications and eat small meals to keep up your energy. Work in small spurts and be sure to include naps throughout the day.

Once you have hit your deadline, celebrate with a long nap or early bedtime. How do you cope with working while sick?

Odd jobs can turn into fun jobs

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At the end of the day, I like to feel accomplished. That could mean as a wife, a mom, a freelancer, or anything. Just as long as I feel there was something I could cross off either my own to do list or that of someone else.

Either I have the skills or I find them. Working as a small business or for a small business has shown me that your role might be defined, but that does not mean you don’t wear other “hats” when needed. I am the worker type. Give me a task and I will find a way to make it happen.

The “worker bee” mentality comes in handy when looking for work. I do not feel any task is beneath me and I am more than willing to help out where needed. It helps me discover talents and I can cross off something from a to do list. Sometimes it shows me what tasks I do not like. Such as painting a house. Not into it, not really fun, but happy to help when I was needed. More than happy when the project gets finished.

I started my Thirty One Gifts business as a way to obtain free and discounted products solely because I enjoy the product and appreciate the company’s foundational principals. What I never realized is how much this passion could turn into an “odd job” and then into a “fun job”. The more I put into it, the more I receive from it. It has also allowed me to supplement my income at a time where it is more needed. I also find it enjoyable and look forward to not only parties with my hostesses, but also the optional meetings. The encouragement has kept me going.

Have you had an experience where you took on a job or project to help out someone that turned into something more valuable and fun for you? Let’s here about it in the comments.