Are you struggling to get new clients as a freelancer? Tired of facing rejections whenever you reach out to a prospect? Unable to generate reliable income without working yourself to the ground?
In this article, you will discover a golden rule that is proven to work. You will also learn what mistakes to avoid when trying to find clients. I have been there. And I know it can be difficult. I learned from my mistakes and want to share them with you.
As of 2018, 56.7 million Americans do freelance work. 84% of them are able to live the lifestyle they want. Maybe you have chosen to be one of them. Or perhaps you feel trapped in your 9-5 and want to earn a side income as a freelancer.
A 2015 experimental study showed that working from home leads to a 13% performance increase. So, whether you want to get new clients or to kickstart a freelance career, you will want to follow this rule.
The Golden Rule To Get New Clients
First, let me share a story with you. This story is from my younger days…
When I was just starting out…
I had a lawn mowing business. And I was struggling to get new clients. So, I knocked on every door in every neighborhood and said- Hey, can I mow your lawn? Guess what everyone had to say in response? That’s right. They all said No.
One day I saw this lawn full of tall and unkempt grass. It was really messy. I went over and knocked on the door. The owners weren’t at home. This is when I decided to do something dramatic – I mowed the lawn for them. Then I sat on the porch and waited for the owners to come back. I noticed a car drive by and then swiftly turning around and driving back to the house. It was the owners of the house. They didn’t even recognize their own house because of what I did with the lawn.
As they walked out of the car, I heard the lady shouting: What the hell is this? Then she saw me on the porch and asked: Did you do this?
Yes. I saw that the lawn was very unkept, so I just did it for you. I thought you were busy and wanted to help out.
Then I added that I’m just a young man trying to get started in the business. This was my way of letting her know what I do and how. She was extremely surprised and grateful. This is how I was paid my first $100.
Now, why am I telling you this story? Well, because the golden rule is hidden in it. You see… My action that day taught me a very valuable lesson. I learned that the best way to get new clients is to add value first.
Apply this lesson when you are trying to find clients. The results will amaze you.
The Golden Rule In Action
My mentee, Peter was faced with a similar situation when he started out as a freelancer. At first, he was struggling to get new clients. So, he got a list of every business owner in Vancouver, from the yellow pages, directories, and Google. He emailed them all with the same message: Hey, I am a copywriter and you’re a business. Do you want my copywriting services? As you can imagine, they all said No. For the first 3 months, that’s all he did. He also realized that this strategy doesn’t work. Why? Because he didn’t add any value upfront.
Asking potential clients to give you work is not the way to go. That’s not how you get new clients. If you are lucky, maybe you will find a few. But, it’s not a sustainable strategy. Is it? Eventually, Peter changed his strategy. He also started delivering value to clients. Wondering how he added value? Watch this video to find out:
As you can see delivering value upfront is the best way to get new clients. If you are a freelance writer like Peter used to be, here’s how you can stand out from the competition. But, just as experience taught me what I should do, it also taught me what I shouldn’t do.
The 2 Mistakes You Should Avoid As A Freelancer
So, the lawn mowing business was just one of my early ventures. Later on, I was trying to ‘make it’ as a freelance copywriter. And I made mistakes. Horrible mistakes. They cost me time. And a lot of money. It wasn’t easy.
I was learning the hard way until, finally, I hit the 6 figure mark (in my early twenties). Over the years, I have seen many freelancers make the mistakes I did. This is why I want to make sure you don’t repeat them. It’s especially important as you try to get new clients that also pay you well.
Mistake #1: The Hope & Pray Approach To Get New Clients
More clients mean more money, right? Not really.
I know this one too well. The urge to chase multiple clients… You go to every networking event you can. Then you put your business card in every hand you shake. You make cold-calls to businesses. Everything you do boils down to asking people to take you on for a job. This is how you end up taking any and every client that comes your way. Then you look for referrals and recommendations from them. And repeat the same cycle of networking and hand-shaking.
And you pray to be hired, again.
This is what I call the Hope & Pray approach to finding clients. You have no control over which clients you take on. And no way to qualify them. You just take them on because you have to. Some might be unreasonable and rude. You bear with all of it because you have to. This way, you end up having too many projects at the same time (just to earn decent money). This comes with unrealistic expectations and unreasonable deadlines. Or you have no clients at all. One month you make some money and the next month, nothing. This is the infamous feast or famine cycle of freelancing.
Mistake #2: The Curse Of Freelance Websites
I see this all the time. Freelancers looking to make a decent living on freelance websites. And, I agree, these websites are a good way to test the waters. To get a little experience. They take some business infrastructure and logistics away from you too, which is good. But, are they sustainable in the long-term? No way. Here’s why.
These websites turn you into a commodity.
Tell me if I am wrong, but this is usually how it goes. Initially, you are not sure of your worth. Not sure what to charge. You know clients are looking for the cheapest possible rates. So, you undercharge for your services just to get new clients. And even then, they try to squeeze you out of every penny possible. Later, if you try to negotiate higher rates, they drop you – just like that. I have even seen freelance writers being stiffed out of their pay, entirely.
So, you end up juggling multiple low-paying projects. This leaves you in no control over how much you charge for your time. What’s more, these freelance websites:
- Take a good chunk from your earnings.
- Create a high-competition and low-income marketplace.
- Keep changing their terms and conditions (which most often puts you at a disadvantage)
In some cases, you even pay for the privilege of being able to bid. With no guarantee of getting the client – ever. I can add a lot more to this list. But, you get the idea. This method is not advisable if you want to get new clients that give you a sustainable income.
So does this mean that being a freelancer is not a good idea? Quite the opposite. Why? Because the world is changing. The economy is not what it used to be. And freelancing is getting a new momentum.
Skill-Based Economy: A Boon For Freelancers
If you re looking to earn a full-time income as a freelancer, there has never been a better time. In case you haven’t noticed, job cuts and layoffs are happening all around you. Maybe you have seen it happen to someone you know. Artificial intelligence has already started to replace humans. It has slowly but surely started to take over. Most big-name companies have A.I already implemented at some stage of their process. Every single day people are coming just a little closer to being redundant in their roles.We are rapidly moving from a job-based economy to a skill-based economy. And if you are a freelancer, you are already ahead of most people in the world. Click To Tweet
To get ahead of this, all you have to do is find the right clients that can pay you well. And, in my experience, the best way to get new clients and earn a high income is to expand and develop your skillset. Did you know that 95% of freelancers take jobs that require them to expand their skill set? 61% of freelancers specialize in 2-3 skills. And since this is the case, then you better make sure to specialize in skills that will generate you the income you want. Do you know what’s the best skill you can add to your skillset?
Copywriting is one of the most in-demand and high-income skills in the world.
Copywriting is a great way to generate a parallel revenue stream. And if you are serious you could make a lot of money with it. Just like I did. Some freelancers think that copywriting is a low-paying and high-demand skill. These freelancers still haven’t figured out that it’s the highest-paying freelance career, which doesn’t require a degree. Copywriting is always in demand because it generates revenue for businesses. And what business doesn’t need revenue generation? Can you name one company that doesn’t like to make more money?
Having been a freelance writer myself, I know how hard it can be to get new clients. Especially the clients that pay well and on-time. But, it doesn’t have to be hard. If you know what to do. Do you know that only one good client can be enough for you to earn a steady income? Or for you to avoid falling for the above 2 traps just to get new clients?
But, it’s also true, not all opportunities are created equal. There are 4 easy gigs that are in high demand for revenue-based writers these days, and you must know what they are and where to look for them. I’ve put together a free on-demand training that goes into much more depth so watch it if you want to join the ranks of the most successful freelancers.