Even with live events on a temporary hiatus, there are still lots of great ways to find new freelance clients.
I think most successful freelancers would agree that best way to land new clients is by getting a personal introduction or referral from a mutual connection.
But if you don’t have an “in” (or are just starting out), sometimes that’s easier said than done.
If you can’t get that personal intro, then you’ve gotta find a way to build new relationships with prospective clients.
That could be through networking with other freelancers and sharing leads (like we do inside Copy Chief)…
Or joining groups where your best prospects hang out and demonstrating your expertise by answering questions (notice how this doesn’t say “pitch people” – we’re building authority and relationships here.)
You can also search for freelance opportunties on job boards (especially now that many companies are working remotely).
And there’s always that age-old fall-back – cold outreach.
While the idea of cold outreach often makes people break out in hives – it’s how many of us got our first clients!
As you build your professional network, you’ll rely on cold outreach less and less. It’s MUCH easier to ask someone you know, “Hey, do you know anyone who’s looking for xyz?”
But if you’re still building that community around yourself, or are working on stabilizing your freelance income…
Sometimes the fastest way to get in front of your cold prospects is to simply reach out and say “hi.”
The problem is, clients are busy, and they’re often flooded with new “hi’s” all week long. So you’ve got a make sure they know you’re a real-live human. Otherwise your name will end up on the “naughty list” with the spammers.
Let’s break down an example of how NOT reach out to potential new prospects.
This email popped into my inbox a few weeks ago, and was actually pretty good.
I opened it up and read through it.
Frankly, I was impressed with this outreach message. He made a personal connection, obviously did a little homework, and he was creative about how he reached out.
Even though I’m not hiring copywriters right now, I wanted to respond, tell him I appreciated his message, and find out more about is work. It’s always good to have another go-to writer in your rolodex for when you need to pass along work.
Of course, I got super busy (as most prospective clients do) – and a day or two went by before I could respond. I still had full intention of replying….
Until Email #2 popped into my inbox:
You were doing so well! I thought you liked me for ME.
“Oh shoot…I didn’t mention my limited time offer…”
Now you’ve torn off your “genuine connection” mask and revealed yourself as a shallow bro-preneur who shoved my email address into your pitchy autoresponder.
Ever been on a date James?
Do you wait for a tiny lull in the conversation with your new companion so you can jump in and say, “Oh shoot…. you know what? I TOTALLY forgot to mention my limited time offer!”
No. You chit chat first. Get to know each other. See if there’s a connection.
But it got worse…
Silent Me: “Stop James, Stop! It’s for your own good!”
James: “No, the show must go on….”
… and on….
James kept on chuggin’ along – trudging further and further into SpammyLand with each unsolicited email.
The worst thing is, based on his creative story-telling – James could be a solid copywriter!
These emails were entertaining, and definitely got my attention.
But this is a good example of being too clever for your own good. Of losing sight if the real objective of your copy. (In this case, getting a response)
Save that fun stuff for your blog or emailing your list.
Now, let me be very clear…
Following up with prospects is a GOOD thing.
People are busy and NEED you to follow up. They even thank you for it.
But “following up” (just like the initial outreach) should be personal, and show you’re a real live person on the other end of the screen. (not a templated auto-campaign).
There are LOTS of ways to follow up. Even a simple, “Hey, are you still looking for copywriters?” is great.
But what you do NOT do is force your automated message template down someone’s throat who never even responded to you.
That’s like breaking into the backstage of a theater, sneaking through the corridors until you find your way onto the stage, and then delivering a monologue to the audience who have no idea who you are, and did not buy tickets to your show.
The thing is, clients get these emails ALL THE TIME.
Do you see a common theme here?
They’re all trying to FORCE the relationship. It’s like walking up to someone you’d like to go on a date with and saying…
“Hey I’m Tom and I think you’re really pretty and I wanna touch your b00bies and get married and have kids and stuff ok so wanna come to my house now?”
So what’s the lesson here?
Don’t rush it.
When approaching cold prospects, the main objective is JUST to open a dialog.
Just like real life. You say hi, the other person says hi, THEN maybe you explain why you came up to talk to them in a non weirdo way, etc.
Just like approaching a stranger in a cafe, any agenda other than starting a conversation like a real human is going to look like a scatter-shot strategy where you spray hundreds of targets and hope one of them sticks.
So when approaching prospective clients, here’s what I suggest you do instead:
1 – Do your research.
Find out if they’re even LIKELY to be hiring someone like you. Find out who makes the decisions to hire people with your skills. This can be as simple as reaching out to someone in the HR department, or another person on their team, and asking, “Who’s should I speak to about xyz?” (Even better if they’ll connect you with them).
2 – Whenever possible, get a connection.
If you don’t know who to contact, ask around. Ask the people you talk with if you can mention you go the name from them. Ask your networks, professional communities, masterminds, and peer groups if they know WHO you should be contacting. Again, it never hurts to ask for an introduction if it feels appropriate.
3 – Then reach out with the sole intention of opening a conversation, and exploring IF there’s even an opportunity there.
Lead with a GIVING mindset. How you can help THEM.
And the best thing you can do is go where you KNOW people are seeking out freelancers with your skill set.
For example, in the Escape Velocity program I co-coach with Kevin Rogers, we teach new freelancers how to take the guesswork out of finding freelance clients. We lay out a proven plan that makes it easy to launch a freelance career from scratch and find your first few clients.
Part of the value of joining Escape Velocity is that you also get free access to the entire Copy Chief community AND the Copy Chief job boards.
In this community you can build relationships with successful marketers who are out there in the trenches working with clients every day. They’ll give you feedback on your work, and you can get answers to your questions about freelancing and finding clients.
PLUS – you get access to the Copy Chief job board where new clients are joining every single week SPECIFICALLY to connect with and hire new freelance marketers.
Like these clients looking for freelancers RIGHT NOW:
If you’re wondering where all the good clients are, then let me reassure you…
All the clients are sitting on the other side of the wall wondering where all the good freelancers are.
There’s a lot of work out there for freelance marketers, and all you have to do is reach out to make that first connection.
If you’d like my personal help finding new clients and building your freelance business, check out Escape Velocity here.
Not only will Kevin Rogers and I walk you step-by-step through the process of finding new clients WITHOUT sending spammy messages…
But you’ll also get access to the Copy Chief Community, new clients in the job boards, and a huge network of professional marketers and freelancers.
We get started on July 1st, and it’s already shaping up to be an amazing professional group of freelancers looking to collaborate and build their businesses together.
See you there!