I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how to get new clients right now. I’ve also been thinking about how I will have to change my business and plan for the next several months or year or two, even though so many things are unknown during this pandemic.
First, here are some reminders about how to be a rock star for your clients. This is about your personality, attitude and ability to be helpful. What you should always do, but especially right now:
Respond quickly. I know this isn’t always possible. There are exceptions. But when a client emails you, especially if you’re already working on an assignment for them, get back to them quickly—as in that same day if possible. Don’t leave them hanging.
Don’t ghost clients. This should be obvious, but I’ve had freelancers working for me who did not only respond quickly, they just didn’t respond at all. For days. On a deadline. And I never hired those people again.
Meet your deadlines. If you are having trouble with your deadline, reach out to your client as soon as possible. The worst thing is to reach out the day of and say you can’t meet the deadline. You just sound like you procrastinated. Instead, contact your client several days before your deadline, apologize and ask for an extension.
Do the little things. For writers, that might mean suggesting headlines and subheads and creating a list of all sources with contact information for fast fact-checking.
Don’t overshare. Clients don’t have the time or mental energy to hear all about your troubles. They just want their project on time and done right.
Be helpful. Be polite.
Now, I want to share four ideas to consider as you pivot and work to earn more money and gain new clients:
1. Think digital FIRST. And think digital for EVERYTHING.
I know some of you might have video chat/Zoom fatigue, but we have to be all digital most of the time. We don’t have a choice. This is the world we live in now. Whether you are already providing services digitally (writing, website design, etc.) or not, you have to think digital for everything right now.
On one end of the spectrum are courses and webinars. What skills can you teach online right now? Aim to make money, but this is also about expanding your network and showcasing yourself as an expert—which can then lead to new work.
But you can also start smaller, perhaps with Instagram videos or Facebook Live sessions. What are you an expert in that people want to know more about?
2. Join an online practice group, accountability group or Facebook groups.
In short, expand your support network. But this is not just about networking. It’s about gathering with people in your industry—or an adjacent industry—to share best practices and ideas about how everyone is pivoting right now. And the people in these groups can also commiserate with you as we all struggle through this.
3. Be a part of the conversation.
It can be helpful to talk to friends and commiserate with other freelancers right now, but it’s also important to be a part of the larger conversation as an expert in your field. Pose questions on LinkedIn. Answer questions in Facebook groups. Take part in tweet chats, such as #FreelanceChat every Thursday at 12 p.m. Eastern time.
You can also consider being a guest on a podcast—or even starting your own. Write a guest blog post.
Be strategic about all this: Who are you trying to reach? Is there a way to reach your potential clients? How can you get out front and center in your industry?
4. Be really helpful.
Ask nearly everyone you know: How can I help with your work? What are you struggling with in your position? What does your organization need?
Maybe they won’t have work for you right now, but I bet they remember you for asking. Maybe they can offer you a smaller project or you can charge a bit less than you normally would. Or if you can’t help or they need a service you don’t provide, you can refer them to a freelancer who might be able to.
If you take nothing else out of this episode, I highly encourage you to think digital first. Think digital for everything. What new and creative ways can you pivot into providing digital services and content for your audience?
Biz Bite: Work outside
The Bookshelf: “The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir” by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
Episode #53 of Deliberate Freelancer: Pivoting and Finding Resilience
Episode #43 of Deliberate Freelancer: 33 Ways to Find More Clients