Guest Post by Lynda Forman
I had a writing dry spell during 2013. While a lot of other writers I knew were sitting around with little to do in years past, I finally had my moment of, Where is all the work this year? And I admit, it was a bit terrifying. But if I was honest with myself, I wasn’t doing the things that I’d done in the past to find and keep clients. Here’s what I should have been doing, and what I did do to get back on track.
Update your profile(s)
If you have profiles on sites like Guru or Elance, go back to them to see what needs to change. Take time to look at the resources on the sites to see what they recommend, or browse through others you see bidding on the same jobs you do. You’ll begin to see trends among those who get chosen for projects. Emulate them, but don’t copy them, of course.
Rewrite your resume
Not until I started writing resumes did I realize just how important that piece of paper was. As a freelancer, I barely think about it, but I realize now that I need to have it ready to go. I’m competing against more writers and professionals, so I need to make sure my resume is showing my experience, my skills, and my accomplishments.
Get a website/freshen it up
If you don’t already have a website, get to work. Weebly or WordPress are easy places to start, and you can establish your web presence. Look at other freelancer websites to see what they include, and follow their lead. Add in your resume, your pitch to the client (what you can do for them), and your contact information.
If you already have a website, take look at it and see if it still makes sense for who you are and the clients you want to attract. If not, update it. And even if you love your site right now, update it when things get slow.
Use social media for business
Even if you hate marketing, you still need to use your social media accounts if you want to get clients. Though your new clients may not care what you have to say, they may want to see that you know how to use the tools. Just post a little tidbit once a day, share links that are related to your work, and respond to those who comment. It’s easy and it gets you noticed.
Redo your work proposals
One of the biggest things I noticed when I had more free time was that my proposals on Guru were…horrible. They worked a few years ago, but they needed freshening up. I created a few new skeleton proposals, and now they’re ready for customized information to show clients I’m the person for the job.
Bid on work
Start bidding on work you can do and that you want to do. The more you bid, the more likely you are to get noticed and picked.
Here’s an interesting tip that I just learned myself. I Googled myself and I put my name into Amazon.com to see if I would appear anywhere. Funny enough, I found myself credited in a few places I hadn’t expected. So, those went on my resume. If I hadn’t spied on myself, I wouldn’t have known. (Thankfully, what I found was positive. If you find something negative, talk to the Webmaster of that particular site about taking it off the Internet.)
Clean your office
If you’re getting frustrated by not finding clients, maybe it’s time for a change in your work area. Even if you don’t have an office, clean up the area where you work. Dust your laptop or keyboard, and get yourself excited about working again.
Contact old clients
When you’ve worked with people in the past, reach out to them to let them know you’re looking for new projects. I’ve done this when contracts have expired or when a client didn’t need as much. Reaching out to say ‘hi’ and that you wanted to let those past clients know you’re available works better than you might think.
Once you have clients, you can still look for more, but it is actually easier to hang onto the ones you already have. Here’s How:
- Do what you say you’ll do. This is why contracts are so important. Even if you just have a sheet of paper that lists what the project is, how you will do it, when you will turn it in, and what the payment schedule is, that will work. If you have any questions, ask the client before you start writing, and invite them to ask you questions as well. Then do what you promised.
- Stay in communication. During projects, it’s a good idea to stay in communication. Some clients will reach out to you first, and when that happens, I thank them for reminding me that communication is a good thing. Let a client know that the services they’re paying for are in progress, and if there are any problems, speak up.
- Exceed expectations. While you want to make sure you do what your contract says you will do, if you can do a little bit more, then do it. This leaves an impression in the mind of a client, and they’ll be more willing to call you instead of someone else when they need writing or other freelance work. Now, don’t do so much that it causes you to lose money, but if you can do more, try to do it – especially for the good clients, the ones you don’t want to lose.
- Solve problems. When your client comes to you with a problem, find out what you can and then do your best to fix the problem. Keep in mind that a complaint from a client isn’t something to take personally. They just want their project to be what they want it to be, so find out what their problem is and then do all you can to solve it. Of course, if they want to go outside of the contract or they are the problem, that’s another discussion.
- Be flexible. Sometimes, you will need to be a little flexible with your clients. This might include extending payment schedules, extending deadlines, etc. Be willing to bend a little, but have a limit to the amount you bend (especially when money or time is involved). Let your client know that you will be flexible, and then give them the new parameters for your work together.
- Assume the best. I try to keep in mind that everyone on the planet is just doing his or her best at the moment. I might not like what their best is, but when I remember this, I can let most stressful moments go. When you run into clients who are argumentative, even combative, and impossible to please (and you will), this mantra can keep you from saying something that might mar your reputation. The more you assume the best of others, the calmer and the better equipped you will be to handle the interaction – with grace. (Another way to keep clients!)
Finding and keeping clients can be simple, even enjoyable. These tasks are just a part of the cycle of being a freelancer, and this cycle doesn’t continue without you taking action and without you taking your clients (current and prospective) seriously.