Almost every freelancer needs some kind of written biography, a small piece that’s shorter than a resume but is more engaging to read. It provides potential clients with not only an idea of what you do, but who you are. The last part is probably what makes bio writing so difficult.
I’ve written dozens of profiles of people, places and businesses, but as soon as I sit down to write about myself, I’m faced with the dreaded “white screen syndrome.”
I’m not sure what it is; am I worried that I’ll seem egotistical if I play myself up too much? Will I seem boring if I try to remain too objective? And of course, the possibility of inserting a little too much of my personality.
While pondering this, I did come up with a few ideas to make the process easier.
Sometimes as a freelancer, you may find that you get so wound up working on your trade that you forget about running your business. Hey, it happens. For example, sometimes I put off working on my accounting because I just don’t feel like looking at the numbers.
But you may be neglecting to work on another aspect of your enterprise—business development.
This is vital because it involves creating a pipeline of assignments so you don’t run dry. To me, this is the most valuable “trick” of staying well fed. This is the mark of a true business, in my opinion: not just doing what you’re good at but running it as a real business, which often involves tasks you may not like or be good at.
Below are some of the strategies I use to ensure that business keeps coming in.
Make time to market. Often the hardest thing about generating clients is making the time to work on it. Because it offers no immediate payoff, it’s easier to put paying work ahead. But trust me; it’s worth it to take even an hour out of the week to market yourself.
Do it even if you’re “full.” While deadlines and your trade are important, you’re going to need to build in time for lead generation and marketing. Even if you’re pretty established. It’s always better to feast than famine. When you take time to network and outreach on new opportunities, you open up doors. Doors that may lead you to better pay or a better working relationship. Or that last-minute contact you need when a work well taps dry.
By Brett Derricott. Brett is the founder and CEO of Agency Fusion, a web development company built especially for agencies and designers. Brett blogs about technology as it relates to design and advertising at agencybyte.com.
When I began freelancing I thought it was important to make my fledgling business appear bigger and more established than it really was. My website used phrases like “our designers” and “our programmers” in an effort to make a one-man show look like a full team of professionals. No matter what a potential client wanted I felt the need to make them believe I had all of the resources to do it.
You’re probably a lot smarter than I was at that point, but I eventually learned two important lessons that changed my approach.
Clients liked that i was a freelancer. Contrary to my assumptions, clients actually liked that I was an independent freelancer who could respond quickly and help them avoid the costs often associated with engaging a fully-staffed firm. In most cases my clients were considering hiring me precisely because I was a freelancer!
My clients weren’t stupid. They were rarely fooled by my attempts to appear bigger than I was or to appear to offer every possible service under the sun. Once I stopped worrying about looking small, I started figuring out that forming strategic partnerships with other freelancers and companies was a better way to help my clients get everything they needed. And it allowed me to focus on what I did best (and enjoyed most).
When done correctly, partnering with someone who provides a product or service that you don’t provide can be a great business tactic. There are a few important things to consider, though, before engaging a strategic partner to work on your client’s project.
Freelance designers who produce marketing materials will know that design and copy should be developed together to work well.
But sometimes there isn’t enough budget for teaming with a copywriter. Or the client needs a project in a hurry. That’s when being able to produce concept and copy in addition to design can be a powerful business advantage.
It goes without saying that an ability to write is fundamental. But you don’t have to be a copywriter to produce strong concepts and write copy for many smaller projects.
Think of the concept as a hook, a lead-in that will grab readers’ attention and persuade them to read on. Think of the copy as a fulfillment of the concept’s premise, the fleshing out of the product story.
Avoid trying to do too much, bombarding readers with multiple copy and visual messages. For any piece to be persuasive and memorable, its design, headlines, visuals, and copy must work together to communicate one single and strong message.
As idea starters, below are thirteen simple concept/copy approaches. Each has been proven to help deliver sales results.
Wouldn’t it be great if new clients contacted you? In the following article I’ll show you how to conquer the search engines so prospective clients can find you online. We’ll look at four core areas: Choosing your keywords, Making the content of your website searchable, Fulfilling the needs of browsers, and Getting other sites to link to you.
I can see through you. You read the headline and think “MySpace”. Far from it. It’s true that social networks are all the rage these days. Every day a number of new communities pop up on the scene. Some are for fun, but some can be quite useful, especially for the job-seeking freelancer.
MySpace for some is only a place to hang out, chat, be friends with hundreds of bands, or just have cool-looking personal pages. For others MySpace is a place to get new gigs. I know many people who’ve gotten new jobs through it, and I’m pretty sure that some of you could tell similar stories.
Without passing judgment on any of them, the platforms I’d keep my eye on are LinkedIn, FaceBook, and especially for European freelancers, Xing (formerly known as OpenBC). The latter is my main platform for business networking. Since my focus is on the German market this works out pretty well for me.
If you have an interesting story to tell, a press release will help you to make newspaper editors aware of it.
Maybe you recently won an award. Maybe you stumbled upon some interesting information in the field you work in. Or maybe your design contributed towards some kind of achievement on behalf of your client.
Depending on the scale and content of your story, you can send your press release to marketing websites, marketing magazines, the relevant trade press, the regional press, and even the business section of the national press.
Don’t confuse a press release with an advertorial. Advertorials are essentially promotional articles. If you want your press release to be treated seriously, you’ll have to sacrifice the temptation to plug the benefits of your service up-front, and instead disguise them with informative content.
Let’s assume you have an interesting story to tell. How do you present it in a way that encourages editors to print it?
By Tim Wall with Andrea Decker
Do you have loads of clients fighting with each other for the chance to hire you? If so, you can skip this article. If not, you likely spend some time selling yourself to potential clients. So read on, because we’re going to talk about the dos and don’ts of selling.
I wanted to get the scoop on selling from one of the best, so I went to Andrea Decker. Andrea is the Consulting Director here at our company, Element Fusion. Our consulting team spends all of their time drumming up business and Andrea is the most experienced and most prolific sales consultant we have.
So here they are – the dos and don’ts of selling – each summarized in a sentence with quotes from Andrea to further clarify.
1) Listen to your client.
The single most important thing you can do to make a successful sale is listen to your client. Understand how his business works. Understand what pays his bills. Then simply present a solution that makes it easier for him to keep doing what he does best.
2) Build a relationship and demonstrate your expertise.
Business owners don’t usually want to become experts. They just want to know an expert they can trust – one who really understands their business and is interested in building a long term relationship.
So you know how to write, do you? You know your industry, you know your topic. You have a great idea for an article that will make people think. But what’s this? The dreaded blank page. Although, it’s not the article – not yet. It’s the pitch to the editor.
It’s not just about what to write, but who to write to. For first time authors, writing their first pitch can be even more frustrating than writing their first article. Writing coaches agree that this is one of the things their students dread the most.
Writing pitches and proposals shouldn’t be that big of an issue. Unfortunately, as with all things that seem small and insignificant, we tend to blow them out of proportion. A scared writer before a pitch has the mentality of a teenager in his standard “will they like me” phase. Well, it’s time to pitch, and here’s some tips on how to do it.
First and foremost, editors are actual human beings. You may not believe this, but it’s a well known fact. They’re like you and me. A lot of stress and not enough time. In order to get a story through you need to do one of three things: shock, connect or surprise. But, before we get to what you actually need to write, let’s do a little preemptive preparation.
Adapted from The Freelance Designer’s Self-Marketing Handbook by Shaun Crowley
For many people, telephone prospecting can be a painful process. You know it’s a necessary activity—without it, your work will sooner or later dry up.
And if you wait until the long periods of downtime before you pick up the phone, the task is made all the more difficult—desperation is very easy to spot in the voice of a cold-caller.
This article shows you how to gather the courage and the impetus to phone for work, and how to improve your telephone technique for maximum effect. Continue Reading
There are some mythical freelancers who like unicorns that prance in open fields and sasquatches who lumber through the forests… have fully booked schedules and are never in need of finding new clients and work. For the majority of us though, we’re always on the hunt for new leads.
Jobs boards like the one here on FreelanceSwitch are a great place to find clients looking for some freelance work. I recently posted a job opportunity for a freelance designer on the board as well as on several other boards and in light of how many application emails I received that left a little to be desired, I wrote this post to share the insights I gained when looking to hire a freelancer. Now this may come off a little tough, but remember that I’m trying to give you an honest assessment from the point of view of a hiring client. If you’re finding your job applications aren’t hitting the mark with clients, consider the following tips:
Marketing yourself is no doubt an important part of freelancing. There’s a lot you can do to find and approach new clients. Some of them can cost you a nice sum of money, others you can do for very little cost.
Especially for software developers, here’s seven ways to make yourself known and to turn your name into a brand.
Write A Blog. It may seem an obvious one, but many people miss out on this fantastic opportunity to make yourself known.
Writing a blog (or writing for other blogs) doesn’t have to be personal. For personal issues, write a separate blog. To promote your development skills, write about things that concern your profession, your everyday work, and the problems you run into. If you find a solution to a nasty problem, chances are other people will find it useful as well.
Of course it’s no use looking for those nasty problems. Your job is to find solutions to problems every day, be it small problems or big ones. Potential clients will hire you because they realize you’ll be able to solve their problems too.
The bottom line is to find an effective way to put these solutions into words and post it on your blog. This also has the advantage that you have a searchable archive, so if you run into these problems again you can go to your own blog.
Blogging about what you do shows you care, which is exactly what potential clients want to see.