“How do I get more clients?” It’s a question most freelancers struggle with. It’s tough to attract great clients and predictable income when you’re just starting out. It’s even harder when you end up with difficult clients and low ball projects. It feels like you’re beating your head against the wall, competing with every other freelancer online. Begging for business that will never come.
What if, instead of fighting for your client’s attention, they fought for yours? Wouldn’t it be something if you had a waiting list of amazing clients who were willing to fight for your help?
You want clients to fight for your attention
This is less about fisticuffs and more about competition. You want clients who value your services enough that they’re willing to compete with someone else to get it. Someone who’ll add themselves to a waiting list or ask about how they can get to the front of the line.
It’s a clear sign they value… well… you. This affects everything. If clients respect and admire you, they’ll trust your recommendations. It makes the transition from one-time project to repeat customer much easier. Getting clients to spend more money is easy when they like and trust you, right?
It’s simple if you follow the right path. Here’s how you do it.
Step 1: Define the customer you want
Once you’ve identified the customer you want you’ll need to figure out what they want.
- What’s their biggest problem?
- What goals are they working towards?
- What would make them nervous, or keep them from working with you?
- What would make you unique, in their eyes?
The more thorough your interview, the better your results later on. If you want clients to fight for your attention, this upfront work is key.
Think about it from a client’s perspective. They desperately need help. They have money, but good help is hard to find. There are plenty of people who could do the work. What they want, what they really need, is someone who knows enough about them to help grow their business.
They need an advisor who gets them.
Here’s an important secret most freelancers miss: Clients don’t want an order taker, they want an advisor. What do I mean by order taker?
An order taker gets hired to do a job. They do it, then they get paid. As far as short term goals go, this works. But it doesn’t offer much in the way of job security. If someone cheaper, better, faster comes a long, clients are often times quick to jump ship.
An advisor teaches.
They educate clients about what they want. They don’t bore their clients with unimportant details and jargon.
- Building your site that way will increase load times by 61%. If I do it this way it’ll actually decrease load times and give you more server resources to play with.
- This design is a great start. I’ve got an idea that could boost conversions even further with a few easy tweaks. Interested?
See the difference?
Step 2: Create instant credibility and authority with leverage
If you’ve asked the right questions you should know your ideal client inside and out.
When it comes to attracting clients, education attracts and information converts. Teach your clients something, give them something of value and they’re automatically drawn to you. Do it in a way that allows you to serve 10 or 10,000 people without you being involved directly and you have leverage.
Here’s how others have done it.
- Apps: Matt Mullenweg forked B2 and created WordPress. WordPress VIP attracts large top tier clients who need one-on-one help with fees starting at $15,000 per site
- Content: Webdesigner Depot shares amazing freebies to grab your attention. They know designers are always looking for helpful resources to use at work.
- Videos: Remember “Will it Blend?” BlendTec wanted to show customers how tough their blenders were so they blended bones, rocks, iPhones, glow sticks – anything fans wanted. Their sales skyrocketed as YouTube fans rushed to buy their blender.
- Quiz: Hubspot created their Website Grader quiz/assessment tool. These tools attract more than 50,000 people per month, with many of these customers becoming consulting clients.
Can you see what’s happening in each of these examples? They all started with a problem, desire or goal. And the best part? Each of these examples gives their creators leverage. They receive eager, ready to buy customers who love and admire them, without being directly involved.
It’s a win for everyone.
If you’ve interviewed your ideal client (see step 1), you have what you need to create leverage.
Step 3: Share your resources with ideal clients
Okay, so you’ve created an amazing resource. How do you get it into a new client’s hands?
You share it.
Advertising gets it into their hands faster, but it’s definitely not a requirement. Okay, how do you do it for free?
- Share it on forums. Use forum search tools like Faqfox to find clients with development, design or content problems. Help them, answer their questions, look out for them. Put the link to your resource in your forum signature.
- Partner up. If you’re a web designer, UX designers, copywriters and marketers all serve the same type of customers in a different, yet complementary way. Reach out and ask them to share your resource with their customers.
- Pitch Influencers. Find an influential person in your industry. Share your free resource with them and ask them if they’d be willing to share. You only need one good one to get things moving.
- Targeted social media. Use hash tags on Twitter to find clients with the same problems. Use People or Group search to find clients on LinkedIn, and so on. Create a list of tweets and status updates discussing your client’s problem from multiple angles.
- Combine. Combine these strategies and tactics (when it’s appropriate) to turbo charge your results. Use these strategies and tactics to help people.
Wait a sec. There’s a problem.
How do you continue the conversation? How do you build a relationship with potential clients?
You attach a hitch:
- ask for their email address so you can send them their quiz results;
- ask them what video, topic you should cover next;
- become their Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn buddy.
Once you’ve established the hitch, set limits. How many ideal clients do you want to handle at a time? 10 a month, 15 a week? How do you work with them? What are your prices?
Establish a relationship with education first, then when your clients are ready, convert them with information.
Just make sure it’s a two way street where either you or your client can end the relationship if things don’t work out.
Clients should be willing to fight for your attention
Because it tells you you’re an equal in their mind. This means they’re less likely to try to abuse or hurt you. They’re more open to following your advice and happy to support you.
This won’t work for me because…
I’m too new at this, or I don’t know how to do everything, or my situation is different. “If you knew my situation you’d…”
Ignore those voices.
You don’t have to explain yourself. This strategy has worked for one-man shops and large agencies. It’s worked for people in our industry. People outside of it. If they can do it, so can you.
You don’t have to create something like WordPress. It’s a mistake to think you have to create the next viral video or home run. I’ve been on both sides of this, the size doesn’t matter.
All clients care about, all that really matters, is whether you can help them. You wouldn’t be in business if you couldn’t help them, right?
So show them.
It feels like it’ll take forever. But it doesn’t have to. Some have seen results in as little as a few days. Others a few weeks. It all depends on you.
How do I get more freelance clients?
It’s a question freelancers struggle with, even though they shouldn’t. You can attract the clients and income you want, even if you’re starting out. You don’t have to deal with horrible clients and awful projects.
Solve your client’s problems with leverage and you become a invaluable resource. Do it well and they’ll be willing to beg and fight for your attention.
Do the work and it’s yours.