The biggest challenge we face as Freelancers is finding work.
It’s not that it isn’t a challenge for anyone else in business, of course. It’s just that when you’re spending 80% of your time delivering, it feels as if there is little time left to get out there and promote yourself as much as you’d like.
Five years as a freelance writer and I still experience peaks and troughs; either weeks spent with my head down, barely able to communicate with the outside world while I wade through assignments, or dreaded silent periods when I feel like Norma-No-Friend, desperately checking my inbox in case I have missed something.
To some extent, this comes with the territory of Freelancing. However, over the years, I have found a few things that work particularly well in keeping the work ticking over consistently for me.
Keep up your Marketing
For us as Freelancers, what this boils down to is to keep looking for work.
Sounds blatantly obvious, doesn’t it? Yet, during those busy periods when we’re working flat out to keep our client deliriously happy – as indeed we should – it is precisely what we tend to stop doing. “I’ll pick up again when I’ve finished this project.”
Unless you – and your bank balance – particularly enjoy those long periods of lull when you have no work, keep your marketing efforts ticking away in the background at all times.
The various methods of marketing that exist out there – social media, blogging, networking – are vital tools for finding work, so keep at least one of them moving along even when you’re busy, and even if you can only manage one or two hours per week. You must keep up the exposure.
Look after the clients that you have
My own experience has taught me that the key to finding more work is to look after your existing clients. Show that you still care about them long after ‘The’ project is done and dusted.
Keep in touch. This doesn’t necessarily mean relentlessly badgering them with your latest offer. It need only mean a quick telephone call to see how they are and if they need any help with ‘XYZ’.
Keep your eyes peeled. Have you noticed that there is something they’re not currently doing that they could be doing to gain more exposure? Guess who’s the man for the job?
Work on developing a relationship with your clients, so that you can be kept up to speed with any projects they might have in the pipeline. Make a note of these projects in your schedule, and call a few months ahead of the due date. Keep popping up in their radar, so that they remember you’re still around.
Work hard at maintaining a long term relationship and you’ll soon find that they will retain you for repeat work.
Ask for referrals
Yes, your clients should and often will refer you to their friends and colleagues. Provide them with consistently great service and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. But there are times when they don’t – simply because it hasn’t occurred to them or an opportunity hasn’t presented itself, yet!
A popular way to ‘ask’ for referrals is through incentives. Simply create a suitable offer and place it as a byline in your email signature, or even on your invoices.
Another tactful method is when your clients express their appreciation for a job well done. Use it as an opportunity to graciously “remind” them to pass on the word to others who they think might be able to use your services – and then leave it at that. The chances are they will be only too pleased to help spread the word.
Ultimately, the key to keeping the work flowing steadily in is to work at being utterly indispensable. When a client finds that they simply can’t cope without you, they won’t want to go anywhere else!
What tips would you share on keeping the work flowing in?