10 ways to find clients as a freelancer
All prospecting actions are not equal! Prospecting must not be carried out to the detriment of your number 1 objective: to maintain a quality and lasting service with your most profitable customers. Personally, I was wrong at first on my prospection. I began to answer all the leads made proposals in all directions. I lost time to talk to prospects that had no point, write quotations and propose action plans. After a year, I adapted myself and I managed to qualify the potential prospect in 10 minutes: I give my hourly rate over the phone. I do very little free action plan. Most of the time, I propose to charge this action plan during the first month of implementation. If my operation and my hourly rate are validated, I propose the outline of my action plan in the quotation and I raise again until the signature. I do not think I am an expert in sales, but a sincere dialog, good arguments on the website, a good SEO is enough to convince a prospect.
1) The near network in priority
Your former colleagues, clients, and classmates are are the best ones to recommend you. In fact, the bond of trust is already existing, the phase of negotiation and implementation is much shorter than the other prospects. By email phone and lunch, I introduced to my old customers, colleagues, etc., my freelance activity. Also, I introduced my friends to my freelance activity (through visuals and via my social profiles) and I offered a restaurant to everyone who would make me work or put me in touch with a contact who would lead on a job. With hindsight, the best benefits come from my close network.
Objectively, this lever is not made for everyone. Indeed, it is a full-fledged job that I learned in my past agency. If you want to learn this profession I advise you to start with the excellent book of Olivier Andrieu (In french) Personally, I find this lever extremely relevant for a product like “training”. Indeed, a training is a one-time need and if the person does not use his network, it will usually search on Google. Also, not usually financed by its own means (in France) but by a training organization, sales negotiation is relatively simple. Personally, I worked what is called the long tail of SEO, an expression that has little research but responds to a very specific need. Even if there are few requests, incoming requests are qualified and therefore easy to convert. Example > I positioned a page on “custom social media training”
3) Indirect Prospecting> Expert Testimonial
It is an excellent lever for long-term prospection. All actions to demonstrate his expertise are not equal and do not necessarily affect our target in the first place but can support your expertise and convince prospects.
Example: 1° Participate in business conferences to make a presentation (conferences or clubs,) 2° Write articles invited to bloggers and webzine of your theme or propose practical cases. 3° Become a teacher (courses, articles…)
4) Entrepreneur clubs
They allow you to partner with other freelancers, to share your contacts in their fields so they can do the same in yours. Membership in a club is not free. It is interesting to find a club of which you are the only expert in your theme. In addition to networking, a club of entrepreneurs can also attend conferences on the theme of entrepreneurship. Club members usually share their expertise during thematic presentations each month.
5) Trade shows, meetups, conferences etc.
If you do not have friends ^^ or SEO skills, it’s a great networking lever. Personally, I did several events at the beginning of my freelance activity by going to people, asking them what they were doing and introducing me back. I found an agency that made me work on an audit after several weeks of discussion. If you find a common ground you can exchange your contacts and this can lead to a job.
If commercial negotiation is your nemesis, there are many ways to avoid it. For example, you can use a freelance salesperson or a company that places freelancers (https://www.freeandise.fr/.) You explain what you do and they are responsible for selling you by taking a commission negotiated in advance. Personally, I worked with a business provider (Jérôme Petit) who took me a commission of 20% on a benefit, I had only that to send my quotation.
7) Freelance platforms
malt.fr, codeur.com, upwork, 404works, fiverr, freelance.com etc.). You register on these websites, present your freelance activity, your rate and let’s go. Personally, I have never signed anything on this kind of platforms. I think the competition is pretty tough and the rates are going down. The biggest problem of this kind of platform is that you gain visibility from the moment you have your first recommendations and to have your first benefits it is generally accepted to work for a low price since your prospect does not know you and you have no recommendation. So, if you want to suceed there, you will have to bet on a single platform only and focuss there to work on your visibility. A bit like AirBnB where the platform encourages you to offer your apartment 20% cheaper to have your first recommendations. It is a bet that can be a winner but in a long run.
8) Social networks
It is an excellent long-term lever, they require means in time and in budget. As a Freelancer, if you need 5 clients, it’s not a relevant lever because aggregating a community, producing content will take a lot of effort. Worse, a social media space abandoned with few fans is not professional and furthermore if you sell communication on social networks. Personally I just put forward my Twitter profile which is a network “digital” at the base to perform my watch.
Again, it is an interesting lever but not for a freelancer. Indeed, it is expensive for a need of 5 customers, it is too much effort for few results. I just presented my freelance activity to my personal mailing list.
10) Goodies, flyers
You are a freelancer, not a brand. I think it’s not relevant. I have done it for fun but there is no interest. ^^