Here at the Work Crowd we appreciate that the winning of clients is a freelance priority. So it made perfect sense for us to mark IPSE’s National Freelancer Day with an in-depth webinar on the proven freelance formula. The session was chaired by The Work Crowd CEO Alice Weightman, with Madeleine Weightman (Co-founder), Emma Litster (Customer Success Manager) and Mel Fitzsimmons (The Work Crowd Freelancer) discussing the the Dos and Don’ts of client outreach, the pitching process and closing the deal. Keep on reading as we highlight the key takeaways.
From your scope of services to your trading status, there’s a lot to consider when setting up as a freelancer. So it made sense for Madeleine to begin with her client-winning tips for those new to freelancing.
‘I think a common theme is thinking first and foremost what's your USP? So what's your industry specialism? What are the key skills that you can offer your client? Think about those transferable skills [and] get a bank of case studies or recommendations that you can share with clients.’
Freelancers aren’t typically able to rely on the CV or formal interview process. The freelancer’s shop window commonly includes the website and social media content that is produced to generate client interest. Mel emphasised the importance of digital marketing across a range of social media platforms. ‘You're no longer talking about your experience and your job roles. You're talking about what services you offer, and what results you [achieved] for previous clients.
Thinking about when you're first setting up [it’s important to consider] what [you’re] offering. What have I done before [that] shows how good I [am at] doing those things? Put yourself out there, so people can rediscover you all over the place’.
The choice of promotional methods is key if you want to build a sustainable freelance business and avoid the anxiety-inducing feast-famine project cycle. Madeleine said that there are some definite Dos and Don’ts when it comes to interaction with prospective clients.
Madeleine’s don’ts of client engagement include:
And here are the do’s:
Given the ever-increasing amount of freelance competition it’s important to reflect and emphasise what sets you apart from the crowd. You should hone in on your USP; focusing on the problems that clients face and the solutions that you’re able to provide.
Mel gave these pitching tips:
Madeleine agreed with Mel’s points, adding ‘I think it's really important before you put together that pitch proposal to actually have some time with the client [asking key questions]. What are their pain points? What are they looking to actually achieve? So that actually, when you put that pitch proposal together, you're very much giving them a solution with you being the solution.’
You’ll undoubtedly want to keep hold of the clients who provide consistent work and pay you on time. And if you continue delivering above and beyond expectations then you can expect a fair amount of work to come in the form of referrals as Mel mentioned.
‘90% of my work now is through referrals. [It’s] not just about the retention, it's about the nurturing of clients to the point where they will refer you. I try and go above and beyond, [positioning] myself as an integral part of their team. I'm not an employee, I'm a consultant.’
The management of freelance finances is a hot topic. Common concerns include the competitiveness of pricing and the assurance of client payment. Madeleine repeated her point about the importance of understanding client pain points, offering solutions with transparency in terms of pricing.
Mel said, ‘you might sometimes have to invest additional time at the initial stages of client on-boarding so that you’re able to close the deal and find out more about their business. But it’s really important to set boundaries, because everyone is always going to try and take the mick with freelancers. [It’s] just human nature to try and get a bargain.’
Unfortunately it’s a common scenario for the freelancer to spend time preparing the pitch, only to be ghosted by the prospective client. There’s a fine balance to be kept between being pushy and so annoying that you miss out on good projects.
Emma said, ‘I think it can be difficult to know if people are checking their inboxes and how much that's happening. If it's been a little while [then you could] connect with them on LinkedIn, [sending] a little message [saying] I know we're in conversation, you must be busy.’ There might be someone within the HR or hiring department who may be able to help with the pitch process, providing feedback or communicating back to the client.
The webinar finished up with the Work Crowd team responding to questions on everything from freelance collaboration to the prioritisation of the pitching process. Alice shared the positive feedback from the webinar attendees, saying that she was enthusiastic and excited about the prospects of freelancing across the UK and recently launching in the UAE.
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