For freelancers who provide professional services, testimonials are an important tool. So are their first cousin – referrals. As a matter of fact, RainToday’s 2009 study, “How Clients Buy”, showed referrals from colleagues and other service providers topped the list at 79% and 75%, respectively, outpacing personal recognition/awareness (73%) and in-person seminars (66%).
We all love referrals. They’re often ready-made business, endorsed by your client or associate. They significantly reduce the sales cycle, if there is a sales cycle at all. Why? Buyers often find themselves with a fire that needs to be put out — right now. So, they scramble and call a few trusted associates for professional fire extinguishing recommendations.
We all love referrals. They’re often ready-made business, endorsed by your client or associate.
Many freelancers rely heavily on referrals. For some, it’s their only source of business. And here’s how it usually works. Mr. or Ms. Freelancer hang out their shingle and tell a few associates that they’re open for business. The associates, being the benevolent souls they are, want to help, so they tell some of their colleagues. The freelancer makes a few calls and lands a gig or two. They’re doing the happy dance. Then the phone starts to ring with a few more requests. Off they go into the merry world of self-employment.
The problem is that they’ve set up a behavior– a habit. They wait for the phone to ring or the inbox to jingle. They think, “I do good work, so people will refer me to others.” Sorry folks, in reality, it seldom works that way. Sure, your clients might think you’re great while you’re working on their project and shortly thereafter. But, soon they forget about you until they need your services again. This non-marketing marketing method may be just peachy for a while, but, eventually the phone stops ringing and the freelancer starts to freak.
Truth be told, even in good times, waiting for the phone to ring is a bad idea. It’s simply letting your business happen to you, rather than taking responsibility and making things happen. A better idea is to have a system in place to ensure those referrals keep rolling in and that they’re quality referrals. Continue Reading
Who am I? I’m Allan, a designer who went from freelancer who was grinding out a meager living to co-founding a highly profitable web shop, now we build our own apps, we host conferences and workshops.
Running a business is crazy hard. Freelancers fail for so many reasons. We often get so busy working that we don’t pause to think about if our current path is the right path for us.
We’re so busy trying to get work done on a deadline, exercise daily and meet the needs of our families that we’re literally working with our heads down. We’re so consumed by running a business that we don’t wonder if we’re truly happy. Continue Reading
In my previous post, I wrote about conducting a follow-up meeting after a project. This is the perfect time to ask for testimonials and referrals. You’re still fresh in your client’s mind and, providing the project went well, they think you’re the bee’s knees. The meeting, or better yet, lunch, should happen as close to the end of the project as possible. If you wait too long, your client will likely forget about you until they need your services again.
One of the most important marketing tools, especially for freelancers, are testimonials. Why? Before the project begins, and often well into it, there aren’t any tangibles. That spells high anxiety for your new client, as well as your prospects before signing on.
One of the most important marketing tools, especially for freelancers, are testimonials.
Working with a new service provider can be a scary proposition. Will you live up to their expectations? Will you be able to deliver the goods… on time and within budget?
Testimonials are an excellent way to help set their mind at ease. They’re an endorsement, ideally from someone like them, singing the praises of you. But, not all testimonials are created equal. Vague comments, initials-only sign-offs (e.g.: A.B., New York), lack of specific benefits and results tend to water down testimonials.
On the flip side, well-crafted client comments will go a long way toward positioning you as the “go to” person, an effective problem-solver, increase the perceived value of your work and, ultimately, make closing a deal loads easier. Continue Reading
In the business world, CYA euphemistically refers to the actions you take to “cover your ass” at work (ie: taking actions to not get in trouble, get your company in trouble, or worse, get fired).
In the freelance world, you still need to keep yourself covered, but in a slightly different way. Here are 10 tips on how to do that.
1. Get licensed. If your business requires a license, than by all means get one. This allows you to operate legally (and keeps you out of trouble for operating illegally if you don’t have said required license). Ditto if a professional license—such as for a Notary, doctor, or CPA—is required for the services you provide.
2. Get insured. Self-insurance in nearly impossible these days what with record-setting lawsuits so cover yourself by obtaining the proper insurance (everything from medical and car insurance to a business liability and umbrella liability insurance policy). Continue Reading
When you started freelancing, you probably set your rates at what was competitive at the time. But you may not have even noticed the years rolling by, and suddenly your rates are below where they should be. It’s easy to correct that with brand new clients, but it can be difficult to approach a long-term, dependable client with a rate increase.
If you hesitate to broach the subject, recognize that as an independent worker, you have to be your own advocate. Rarely will a client tell you they think you’ve been charging too little. It’s up to you to make sure your rates remain competitive. Continue Reading
At the end of a project, there are a couple of things you can do. You can hand the files or materials off to the client, a printer or upload them to a server. Then, you bill it and forget it.
A better idea is to conduct a follow-up meeting. Sales and building client relations are, or should be, an ongoing process. A follow-up meeting helps to enhance value, fortify trust and cement the relationship. It helps you do a better job next time around. It differentiates you from the other guys whose policy is: Do it, bill it and forget it.
Schedule a Follow-up Meeting
Those other guys are going to be spending a lot of time and money finding a steady stream of new clients, rather than leveraging their existing clients for additional business. The truth is in the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 Rule. When applied to business, the Rule states that 80 percent of your business revenue comes from 20 percent of your clients.
It can cost up to five times more to land a new client than it does to build on your existing ones.
That little tidbit is a handy piece of information to mull over in your mind. To keep it company, here’s another factoid: It can cost up to five times more to land a new client than it does to build on your existing ones. Some sources go so far as to say 10 percent. Suddenly, it becomes apparent why you should foster and build on your current client relationships. The follow-up meeting is one tactic to help you do that. Continue Reading
How you price your services makes a big difference in how your business is viewed by prospective clients. For freelancers, especially those just starting out, the tendency is to price work on the low end to generate client leads and interest. But what freelancers end up doing is attracting the cutthroat bargain hunters— not a sustainable client base to have in the long run.
Setting your rates low is a signal that shows you are indiscriminate in how you value yourself and your business.
Building your freelance brand starts with the price tag you put on your services. When you first begin working with clients, your rates send a message to prospective buyers: “This is what I’m worth.” If you price too low to undercut competition, you end up sending the message that you aren’t confident in your abilities, and that you’ll take any job at any price.
Setting your rates low is a signal that shows you are indiscriminate in how you value yourself and your business. Freelancers are independent professionals, as deserving to be taken seriously as any agency or corporation you compete with—it’s about time you start bolstering your professional brand by internalizing the belief that you have something invaluable and unique to offer. Continue Reading
When the project is over, it really isn’t.
You might breathe a sigh of relief, but there’s still much to be done. We hear a lot about how to land clients, estimating and managing projects, but the follow-up seems to get forgotten and that’s what this is series all about.
Over the next several posts, I’ll address getting organized for your follow-up, the follow-up meeting, billing, along with some techniques for gathering referrals and testimonials. This will give you some ideas, so you don’t find yourself pulling your hair out. Continue Reading
It takes a lot of work to get a new client. Unless you have a regular stream of referrals coming your way, you may need to do all the legwork yourself by approaching potential clients, contacting them, and testing if they’d be interested in your services. This often requires a lot of research and preparation.
Still, you’re not sure any of these prospects will convert into paying clients – even if you know you did everything right. This is why, during a work famine, it may be easier to get hired again by people who already paid you before: your former and existing clients. Let’s take a look at ways to get started with earning more from current clients.
Unless you’ve been living underneath a very large rock for the past couple of years, you’ve probably heard that Europe is teetering on the brink of financial armageddon.
While there’s no shortage of doom and gloom in the the global outlook, it’s not all bad news – especially if you’re a freelancer. There’s opportunity in every crisis, and mobile workers are now in a better position than ever.
As freelancers who aren’t tied to a desk and a physical location, we’re uniquely poised to take advantage of the shifting financial landscape. Continue Reading
So you finally got a call back and that client is ready to move forward with working with you! Great! Now it’s time to get down to business.
How do you make sure you get paid for the work you do? We all hate this part, but the nuts and bolts of a business relationship are the foundation for freelance success. It’s time to make a contract.
This is a part of the freelance gig that most of us all hate with a passion. Let’s face it – not too many people enjoy having to go through the process of reviewing and signing a contract. Unfortunately, it’s a necessary part of doing business.
In the context of a “safer” client contract, the temptation is to automatically jump to the idea of an “airtight” contract that covers every possible situation or scenario. For the most part, that’s just not the case.
When you’re looking at banking options for yourself as an individual, you need different things than you need as a freelancer. A personal bank account is usually part and parcel of building a larger relationship with your bank. After you’ve got the bank account, you’re likely to look at car loans and home mortgages from the same place you handle the rest of your finances.
But when you’re opening a business checking account, you’re looking at the whole enchilada. While you might be able to allow for some leeway in getting good service on your personal account, you have to know that any incoming payments will be handled promptly, and any payments you make to contractors or to buy new equipment will be paid out immediately. A frozen business account can cause big problems with your ability to do business. Continue Reading