Freelancer’s Guide: 10 New Ways of Generating Client Leads[blockquote source=”Bruce McGill”]”There’s a cumulative effect to getting good parts as a freelance actor, because you’re only as good as your last job, and you have to keep going out and getting them.”[/blockquote]
These days, more and more people are living freelance. That’s a fact. The more the world around us changes, the more we adapt and we choose to find work on our own and for ourselves rather than for a permanent employer. Gone are the days of the industrial revolution when you would get a job at the plant and work there all your life. This is good.
Still, being freelance isn’t all just positives. Sometimes it’s a lot more challenging than working in an office for someone else. For one thing, you don’t just have the task before you to do. You also have to worry about what task comes after that and, if there isn’t any, then about finding the next job.
British writer Neil Gaiman once aptly said that being a freelancer is sometimes like being stranded on a desert island and throwing out bottles and hoping that someone will find them and put something else in the bottle, like money, or appreciation or love and send it back to you. He also said that being a freelancer meant that you have to accept that for every one bottle that comes back you may have to put out hundreds of them.
Living a freelance life in a freelance world means you need to find your own clients. That’s a lot more difficult than you imagine before you start out. The good news is, it does get easier the more you do it. The more work you do, the more work will come your way. That’s a fact.
How do you attract new client leads though? You would just call up random people and let them know who you are and what you do and hope they’ll hire you. Alternatively, you can just put your portfolio somewhere for everyone to see and hope it’s good enough that people will follow up on it and call you and hire you. Well, as it turns out, there are a lot of good ways to generate client leads. Further on, we’ll show you our top ten ideas on how to do so yourself.
But first, we have to look at a few ground rules that will help you a lot in the long-term, even though they’re not necessarily methods to get more leads quickly.
First of all, you need to build something for the long-term. Update your blog daily for four years. Or create a video ever three days for a few years. If you work in graphic design, release something new (that is also very good) every few weeks. Don’t have work? Well then just do some yourself – invent a wine brand, or create an identity for a product you’d like to see on the market. Work on it as hard as you would on paid work. In the long term, if you provide a steady flow of quality content, you will be noticed and you will start getting more leads.
Second, you need to understand that having a list of potential clients doesn’t provide anything if you don’t sell what they’re buying. You want your leads to turn into buyers or clients, so stay clear of offering too many freebies – that’s a surefire way to get a list of people who want freebies and who will probably not buy what it is you’re selling.
Okay, now that these ground rules are out of the way, let’s take a look at a few methods to actually generate leads.
1. Viral Video Is Your Friend
This is simple. Viral video gets you seen by a lot of people. It’s easy to create viral videos, they have to be entertaining and- well, that’s pretty much it, actually. If you create entertaining video that is in some way related to what you do, what ever it is you’re selling, then you’ll wind up with a lot of leads should it go viral.
Should you choose to go down this path, you may be disappointed if your video doesn’t go viral. But, then again, you can help out the virality via Facebook. Post the video on your Facebook page and promote the post. It costs money, for sure, but that’s something you have to take into account when trying to do pretty much anything in the business world.
One of the most important aspects of generating new leads is always the referral. People don’t trust random strangers. They do trust their friends, though. So make sure you get your clients to refer you to their friends or business partners.
You can do this in a lot of ways, ranging from the direct to the subtle. That is to say, you can ask them directly to refer you to anyone they may know looking for a service that you’re providing or you can just give them a few business cards so they always have some lying around the office. You’d be surprised how much these small details matter.
More so, you need to take care of your current clients. You need to get in touch with them whenever you have a new product or service to offer, send them a newsletter letting them know what you’re up to these days (for instance, let them know what big project you’ve just completed), send promotions for your services along with your invoices, send them holiday cards and so on.
3. Networking Is Key
There’s quite a few things you can do in this respect. For one, you should attend as many industry events as possible. Secondly, you should go to events where your past clients are going to be – you can run into them there and they’ll introduce you to other people working the same field. Do some pro-bono work for charitable organizations. You can also sponsor a client event.
4. Become an Industry Expert
That is to say, once you’ve worked in the field for a while and are sufficiently experienced with it, start writing about it. Write blogs, pitch articles to industry publications, offer to speak at industry events, write a book and so on.
5. Job Boards
When you’re just starting out, you should definitely keep an eye on job boards, they’re going to help you out a lot. If you’re a creative, check out the job board at Behance [link to http://www.behance.net/ ], if not, check out CraigsList, Elance and other job board sites. They’re a great resource when starting out and you should exploit it as much as you can.
6. Don’t Ignore the Little Things
Do you have an offer in your email signature? If not, why? It’s a free way to promote yourself. Have you asked your friends and family to talk about you to any people that might be interested in the services you provide? Why not?
Just ask people to tell you who to talk to. It’s that easy. Tell people on your mailing list that you want to share this or that with others and ask them to refer you to anyone that might be interested. It’s that easy. Don’t ignore the little stuff, it matters a lot in the grand scheme.
7. Remember That There Are No Shortcuts
Don’t be afraid to put in the work that’s needed in order to attract potential clients. Writing a guest article for a popular blog takes work – years of experience in the field you’re talking about and of writing blogs. Creating a popular website entails a lot of things, from the design, to the way it works underneath the hood and to SEO. SEO in itself is a huge undertaking.
Don’t be scared by the amount of work and don’t try to cut corners. Your competition is mostly lazy and will do just that. Just by putting in more work than the rest of the people doing one thing, you can practically ensure the success of your endeavor.
8. Build On Proven Relationships
Simply put, at least half of your business should come from prospective clients you’ve met within the last three to six months. Check in with your most recent prospects from time to time with a call or an email. Let them know you’re still thinking of them and get them to think about you.
The same applies to former clients. Let them know that you’re still out there, doing things from time to time. That will ensure that they come back to you whenever they need new work done.
9. Treat Your Clients Like Kings
It’s easy. Other than doing good work, you should also treat your clients as well as you can. You never know who they’ll refer you to if they’re positively impressed. Make sure you go that extra mile in caring for your clients, it will come back to you in the end.
Of course, there’s a thin line to tread between doing this and neglecting yourself and letting yourself be taken advantage of, so do remember to use your own discretion.
10. Never Forget the Basics
These things are great ways to generate leads, for sure, but they won’t amount to anything if you forget about what ultimately always generates a lead and what turns a potential lead into a client. You need to have three things in order to do this. You need a great offer. You need to get that offer heard by the right people. Finally, you need to give those people a reason to act on your offer now.
It’s that easy. As long as you keep this last rule in mind and apply the other 9 ways of getting more leads, you should be thriving.
Have any other great ways of generating leads that we haven’t mentioned? Be sure to let us know what they are in the comments section below!