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.

Write your goals down on paper

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I was involved in a wonderful conference last night about setting our goals for 2014. The director on the call mentioned that only 3% of the population write their yearly goals on paper. Those that do take the time to write goals down and post them are more likely to achieve them. This makes sense as to why many new year’s resolutions fail – they are not down on paper.

As I think back over the years to goals I have achieved. I admit that I am always one to write down major goals. However, I tend to close the journal or loose the paper these goals were written and then they never get achieved.

NOT THIS TIME.

This is the year I am reevaluating how I want to run my business. In the past, my freelance editing business has been a side project. I always wanted to eventually make it a full time job, but I never felt ready to take the leap. There was always the choice if I wanted to take on a project or not because I never relied on the income.

NOT THIS TIME.

The directly last night mentioned that a goal will be achieved if they stretch your limits and you have a drive to achieve them. Now that I am officially unemployed from my full time job, this is the year of my goals being achieved. All of them. Because I am writing them down and committing to them with a passion. I am so glad I made the effort to join the conference last night and am provoked to see my goals on paper.

Here is a sample of my goals that are written on paper for the year 2014. They are proudly on display in my office where I will see them regularly and they will become real this year. The posted list in my home is more specific, but here they are:

  • I have set a monetary monthly income that I will earn.
  • I have increased the number of thirty one parties I will host.
  • Call every past client and check in with them accordingly.
  • Mail out an introduction letter to announce that I have changed from part time to full time and actively seeking work.
  • Write a blog post every day and define each week’s schedule.
  • Write an Ebook.

There you have it. Some of my goals, written now on my blog to be held accountable. Once my goals were written out, I admit I feel a sense of relieve and of urgency as my goals are defined and my to do list is being developed to take on each of my goals in bite size pieces.

How about you? Are you the person who has written your goals down and achieved them in the past? Will you write your goals out this year? Share your thoughts below.

Learn from direct market selling

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So far, 2014 has found me learning how to market myself all over again. College training has taught me how to be a writer, but not a business owner. Learning to market my business is where I struggle and am learning each day what my talents are and how to share my insight with others to find the next project.

Last year, I started selling Thirty One Gifts because I felt that learning how to sell a physical product could help me sell my editing and writing services. Working for a direct sales company has improved my confidence to get in front of others and demonstrate the product. The owner of Thirty One Gifts, Cindy Monroe, started her company from her basement ten years ago. She has managed to turn it into a top company in the direct sales market. Her company started when she was working full time and was never able to shop the local boutique shops that were not open in the evenings. She partnered with one of these companies to sell the products in homes.

Many companies start when individuals have an idea and try to market themselves. I am also learning that perhaps in hindsight, a few marketing classes might have helped. However, learning through selling Thirty One Gifts has proven challenging and a fun way to learn. I am developing skills and gaining more networking connections that help with my editing business.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever used an unconventional method to gain a skill?

Adventure in the New Year

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This past year I have spent working as a contract customer service representative while seeking to get back into the Technical Writing field. This has been a rough transition for me and I am still looking to find my new niche. There are still a few possibilities, but I will be bringing in the new year without knowing what my employement will look like in 2014. I am very excited to find out what the future holds for me, but am nervous at the same time to find out how soon I will find a new work home.

If you are looking for a hard working writer, I am your girl! Feel free to message me at andrea.altenburg@morespecifically.com