Most freelancers know that feeling when out of the blue, you get an email, or a Work Crowd message, from a new business prospect, wanting information on your experience, how you work and what you charge. All of a sudden you have to switch into new biz mode, scrabbling together some examples and information that best showcase your talents and expertise. All the while wondering why you don’t have something more professional – not to mention, convenient – to send them.
If this experience sounds familiar, then it’s time for you to get some new business materials in place, so that you’ll always have something to hand when those out-of-the-blue opportunities come up. Having just a few pieces of key collateral to hand can make the world of difference to the first impression you’ll make when prospecting for business, giving clients confidence that you know your stuff, while reducing your stress levels, and potentially even enabling you to charge more.
So, why not make the investment in a few of the following tools, that will help you respond quickly and professionally to the most common new business questions:
Can I just get your contact details?
New business prospects can pop up at any moment, whether you’re at a formal networking event, hanging out at your coworking space, or even out with mates on a Friday night. And when they do appear, you don’t want to be scrabbling around for something to write your contact details on – you need business cards. Not only can these little rectangular cards give a serious boost to your professionalism and marketing efforts, but they’re extremely cost-effective – try Moo which does a whole range of funky designs to order online. Then make sure you always have a bunch to hand whenever you’re out and about.
How do you charge? How much is…?
This is the dreaded question for many freelancers, and one that clients often ask right off the bat, to ascertain whether they can afford your services or not. Quoting prices off the top of your head can be stressful, particularly if a client has caught you by surprise. A pre-prepared rate card can help you to minimise that stress, giving you something simple to send out, ensuring you stick to your guns and don’t feel tempted to offer an on-the-spot discount! While your rate card can’t possibly cover all eventualities, by listing costs for a few set activities or ‘packages’ – such as articles of a certain length, running a messaging workshop, or a three-month set campaign – it can give potential clients a valuable guide as to what they can expect to pay. And if you’re not sure how you should be charging, check out our blog on the subject, here.
What services do you offer?
It’s easy to undersell your expertise, experience and what you can offer, but if you actually spend time breaking it down, it’s probably more than you realise. Many clients don’t have a particularly detailed understanding of what is involved in different marketing, communications or design activities, from setting the brand strategy to developing messaging and tone of voice, or executing a design concept, so it makes sense to outline all these services and the value they bring in one document. This is why a credentials document is important, to set out what you offer in one place – ensuring you’re selling yourself in the best way possible and maximizing your capabilities.
Can you send me some examples of your experience?
Another very common question, and rightly so. Examples of your experience are the best sales tools you have, whether that’s copywriting examples, case studies and design samples from past projects, or testimonials and references from existing or past clients. Written and visual case studies can form part of your creds deck, giving an outline of what you did and the results you achieved, along with images of any cuttings or collateral to bring it to life. Always ask regular happy clients to provide you with testimonials which you can add to your Work Crowd profile, social media, and into your creds deck. And if you’re a copywriter or designer, think about creating a portfolio including a range of relevant examples to showcase your best work, and saving you from digging out old links and documents every time you need them. Nowadays there are loads of online portfolio options, making it super professional and easy. If you’re a copywriter or PR, try JournoPortfolio, which is designed specifically to showcase writing samples. Or if you’re a designer, something more visual such as Portfoliobox does the job perfectly.
Most freelancers rely on maintaining a healthy new business pipeline, to reduce dry periods and ensure they can maintain the lifestyle they love, while working on interesting projects. So rather than having a new biz panic every time you get a lead in, invest a day or two in getting these helpful tools in place. And your new business efforts will become even more fruitful in the future.
And of course, you also have your Work Crowd profile, which is your shop window to any clients looking for a freelancer through the site. For advice on making the most of it, check out our 6 steps to an irresistible profile, and do keep an eye on our live projects so you have plenty of chances to put your new biz collateral to good use.