“I love doing it!”
“It’s easy to do.”
“It lets me be creative.”
“It’s a perfect work-at-home job.”
“It gives me a chance to do my own thing”
“It” is freelance work and there are many reasons why people decide to move from corporate comforts to a career in (insert any freelance title here). They all sound so positive, filled with dreams of rainbows and unicorns. Why work the 9 to 5 grind when it’s 1-million times easier to work from home? Duh, who would pass that up?
For the next few weeks I’ll be sharing with you the efforts it takes to work a freelance gig. These are insights discovered by me during my transition from the corporate high-tech cubes to freelance voice actor, plus tips I picked up from other freelancers. They’ll help get your head wrapped around what it takes to freelance.
Day 1 Excitement
Good bye, full time job. Hello, ‘I get to work whenever I want to’ passion! Calling it a passion makes it sound so… Passiony. Warm, fuzzy and oh so comfortable. First day excitement will have you full of good intentions. Now it’s time to find, dare I say, WORK.
Before, when you were working a full-time corporate job, work found you and you never felt like you had enough time to get it all done. Now, finding work is a necessity and quite possibly, to begin, you’ll have more time on your hands than work. Finding work takes much effort. Your hunter and gather instincts, which have been dormant for several millennia, need to be shocked back to consciousness.
“Much effort, much prosperity.” –Euripides
Make Some Noise
There is one sure way to find work that outweighs all others and you should use it from day one. Tell everybody you know and meet that you are available for hire. If nobody has a clue what you’re up to, you’ll never work or you’ll work very little. It‘s a numbers game, and the more people who are aware of what you have to offer, the better.
Contacting family, friends, past business connections, peers and acquaintances should be included in your list of people to notify about your new freelance business. Get the word out to as many people as possible.
Don’t be bashful and hide behind the feeling people on your list won’t be interested in hiring you. You may be surprised by those who you thought were long shots when they become your first clients. At the very least, people you contact might be able to introduce you to somebody who is looking for the type of professional freelance services you’re offering. Anyone is a potential client.
Let the Socializing Begin
The best contact methods to consider are social media, e-mail, phone and in-person.
Establish yourself on LinkedIn and say you’re looking for clients in your profile. Join groups specific to your freelance business. Follow businesses you’d like to work with and start building your professional connections and developing relationships.
Reference the list you created of people you want to let know about your freelance offerings. They are probably on LinkedIn so don’t miss the opportunity to connect.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others should be considered along with LinkedIn. Use those that make the most sense for your business.
Little Black Book
Your address book is full of names and e-mail addresses. Start from A and work your way down through Z. All are potential clients.
Start by creating a boiler plate message about your new freelance business that you can paste into an e-mail and send to everybody.
When creating individual messages, write something personal in the first few sentences. Paste-in your boilerplate message. End with a single sentence personal closing. Keep the entire message brief.
One Phone – Many Numbers
The phone can be your friend. You have many people you talk with on the phone that should know about your decision to go freelance. These might be the people in your inner circle of friends, the ones you feel closest to. Take the opportunity during your conversation to tell them about your freelance business. They’ll have questions and this is the perfect time to practice your answers.
It’s Been a While
Running into old friends, business connections, and people you went to school with are opportunities for catching up face to face and finding out what’s new in each other’s lives. Make sure to have business cards available to hand out wherever you go. You never know whose path you’ll cross.
The primary point is to let people know your freelance offerings are available. But, remember, it’s not all about you.
Relationships are easier to build when two people are involved. Word of mouth is important because referrals work both ways. Make an effort in your approaches to network and take notes about your connections. Find out what’s going in on in the businesses and lives of the people you contact.
Somebody you connect with may be looking for a web designer and within your contacts you can easily refer the person to someone you know. And likewise, a contact you’ve developed a networking relationship with knows you offer mad skills in the type of freelance work you do and feels comfortable referring people to you.
Once you’re plugged in the good vibes keep on flowing. You want your freelance business to survive so making the effort to continually network is key in building your client list.
More clients = more work = more $$$ = survival = SUCCESS!
What to Remember
- You are now a hunter! Work used to come to you unavoidably. Now you need to find work so your freelance business thrives.
- Tell everybody you’re a freelancer. One of the best methods of finding work is to tell people you’re available and looking for work.
- Use multiple types of networking methods. Social media, e-mail, phone and in person meetings are all business development tools.
For more suggestions on how to build your network and tell people about your freelance business, this post from Freelance Digital Consultant, Ben Matthews is worth a read.
Next time (Pt 2) Motivation
What drives you to keep traveling the freelance path? Next time I’ll focus on motivation. Self motivation is an important trait to develop to grow your business and become a successful freelancer.
© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn