I’m The Best At What I Do...Now What?
You went into freelancing because you’re amazing at what you do. We know you are; freelancers often choose to work for themselves because they want creative control, and the ability to pick and choose challenging projects where they can create epic work. Getting the job done isn’t the hard part for most freelancers, but finding clients and building loyal client relationships isn’t always part of our skill set. That’s ok! It’s a learnable skill.
Thing is, being great at getting clients is useless if you don’t do great work, but those who do great work can always learn how to get and keep loyal clients. So let’s look at some ways to build a loyal customer base!
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of follow up emails. Many of us, as freelancers, aren’t necessarily the most extroverted people. Sales and marketing are skill sets that may not synergize with the experience and skills that make us fabulous freelancers. Maybe we think we’re going to bother clients and potential clients with follow-ups, maybe we think it’s being pushy, maybe we just don’t know how to effectively follow up.
Say it with me, folks: Following up consistently and effectively is one of the most critical things you can do to build loyal customers.
If you send one email, yeah, they might read it, but they might not. The average American gets over a hundred emails per day. And they’re trying to read and respond while juggling all the other things that need their attention. Maybe they read it and were interested but then they forgot about it because something else happened. Maybe they passed over it because they had other emails that were more urgent. Who knows? But following up means that maybe the second or the third email reaches them when they have the time to pay attention and respond.
Now, that doesn’t mean spamming them. That does get annoying. But it does mean continuing to touch base until you get a response. It means crafting meaningful follow-ups that add relevant content so that those who did read your earlier emails might be moved to action. Now, following up with possibly dozens of clients and potential clients on a regular basis and tracking who you’ve messaged when can get old fast, especially when that’s time that you’re not spending on doing the work you became a freelancer to do. And it’s only human nature that you’re going to be inconsistent, or get busy, or just get worn down by all the non-responses. This is where using an email follow up extension comes in handy.
What is an email follow up extension? This tool automates follow up emails so you don’t have to worry about it. You can set follow ups to be sent on your own preferred timing sequence, be that every day or every week or anything in between. And it will continue to follow up until you get a response. No more writing emails over and over or copy and pasting a form email and having to keep track of who has responded and who hasn’t, and that means more time to spend on doing what you became a freelancer to do!
Hope Is Not A Marketing Strategy
You can’t just throw up a basic website and wait for the clients to come in. Even if you’re the best at what you do, all those potential clients out there don’t know that yet. Eventually you’ll have enough satisfied clients that word of mouth will help, but you’ve still got to learn enough about marketing to get the clients you want and keep them.
The key to marketing is strategy. Hope is not a strategy.
Successful freelancers strategize and implement multiple marketing and lead generation channels, working in concert. You’ve got to know the customers you’re trying to reach and how to reach them. That means not only social media, but putting your energy and resources into the social media channels your ideal clients prefer, which may not be the ones you use. It means networking, and referrals, and a good website, and e-newsletters, and targeted ads, and whatever else will get your work and your name in front of your potential clients.
It means having at least a cursory knowledge of concepts like sales funnels, the buyer’s journey, and how to convert leads to sales. You don’t have to be a pro, but you need to know enough to get by, or enough to hire a competent professional and know they are worth what you’re paying them. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of resources out there. You can learn enough to get by.
Find Your Niche
If you live in a major metro area, there are plenty of others doing what you do. In some fields, you’re competing with other freelancers nationwide to do what you do. And that means everything’s harder; using Google AdWords is more expensive because common keywords are pricier, and people see more ads for more people doing your thing. You’re a little fish in a big pond. But what if you could make your pond a little bit smaller?
Finding a niche can change the game for you. For example: let’s say you’re a freelance photographer. That’s a crowded field. So, you decide to specialize in weddings. That’s better, but wedding photography is one of the most lucrative and common sources of work for photographers, so you’re still in a big pond. How can you narrow that down?
Take a look at your other skills. Maybe you are a history buff and love vintage photography. You even have a collection of vintage cameras. BOOM, there’s a niche! You could focus on doing vintage wedding photography! Everything from dressing up in period-appropriate attire to producing photos with that vintage flair. Someone is doing a 50s diner themed wedding? You’ll show up in a poodle skirt and know all the right filters to use. The bride’s wearing her great-grandmother’s wedding dress from the 1920s? You can produce a bridal photo that looks just like the framed picture of great-grandma on her wedding day!
Now, you can still market yourself for regular weddings, but you also found a niche you can own, because it's a lot easier to become the biggest fish in the pond if you pick the right pond. With a little work, you can become the go-to photographer in your area for vintage weddings much easier than you can for weddings in general. And that generates positive word-of-mouth that will carry over even to your more general wedding photography.
If your niches are a little “too niche,” you don’t have to pick just one. Find a few subsets of your general field and become the best at them. Once you own a niche, that’s a huge way to build loyal customers because even though there’s plenty of people out there to work with, no one can do the specific things you do the way you do them.
You Can Do This, You Fabulous Freelance Phenomenon!
Your work speaks for itself. All you have to do is tell your story and market your skills. With a bit of work put into building and maintaining relationships and selling yourself to potential clients, your loyal customers will keep you busy doing the work you love, and you’ll barely remember what it was like to worry about having enough work. We believe in you!