Don’t you hate it when you don’t have any new work lined up? I do!
When you’re not working, you can’t bill. When you can’t bill, you aren’t making money. When you aren’t making money life tends to suck!
Now money isn’t everything, but it pays the bills (or buys you sweet gear & gadgets).
Most freelancers list getting more quality, long-term clients as their number one problem. We’ve all read social media posts and blog articles venting about how much online freelancing sites suck or how cold emailing prospects doesn’t work.
Now don’t lose your mind because what I’m about to say is blaspheme in the world of (online) freelancing.
Take a deep breath, here it comes…
Freelancers existed and survived before the Internet was invented. In fact, many prospered.
How? By making money locally through tapping into the business opportunities around them.
Now local, offline marketing is kinda why Freelancer at Works exists – so I get it, we’re biased.
Freelancing online is tricky. Freelance work sites like Upwork have serious differences with pay grade and quality depending on the client.
A professional client with a healthy budget is a godsend. On the other hand, some clients seem like they escaped from a horror movie – and there are good chances you won’t know which type you’re dealing with until it’s too late.
What about cold emailing?
Let me ask you a question, when was the last time you answered an email from a complete stranger, asking you for money?
While there’s definitely a way to use cold-emails to get more work (and money), I’d like to suggest an alternative that costs little and has massive upsides.
Go out and actively look for new work locally. How?
Find something and someone who needs what you offer. If they already have something similar and it sucks, show them how you can make it better for them!
(Offline) clients also want to build a relationship with you. They want to understand your character, check your reputation and see evidence that you can deliver the value they need.
And most importantly, they want to know if they can work together with you on a long-term basis.
Sounds fair? Fantastic.
Let’s move on to some practical steps you can use to find first-class, big-budget clients in your area.
No, I’m not being silly, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was fun though ;-)
We often underestimate the reach and power of our personal network in business.
Have you ever heard of ‘six degrees of separation’? It’s the idea that all people in the world are six steps or fewer away from each other.
Most beginners and veterans forget that ‘friends of friends’ are a great source of new business. We often don’t tell our social circle that we are looking for new business.
So ask for referrals.
Let your friends tell their friends about your services and why they should hire you. Watch the ‘six degrees of separation’ work for you, you’ll be amazed what it can do given enough time.
Think about it. Listing in the yellow pages isn’t cheap. Especially if you try and secure a top position in your local business directory by purchasing a larger ad than the competition.
We’ve all heard about how directory listings are dying, declining and outdated.
But businesses and professionals that use such directories tell us that they have money to advertise (always a good indicator) and that they are not necessarily web-savvy.
And if they are not web savvy, you are not going to be competing against a thousand other freelancers with 5-star reviews and testimonials from here to the moon.
There’s also another advantage you have over ‘online-only’ freelancers with this type of client.
You are local. You can meet with the client in person. You understand the context, trends and eccentricities of your community.
Charm them. Show them your work in person and figure out if you’d like to work together.
This totally beats cold-emailing, don’t you think?
You can use local or regional newspapers and niche magazines to find new clients. Use the exact same strategy I suggested for yellow pages and you’ll be fine.
Just remember, local news media has an advantage that directories don’t have. They inform you about current events.
Why is timely, local knowledge important? Image the following situation:
A local executive has just been promoted to a senior position in a large businesses. There’s a picture of him, and he looks a little pale and overweight.
Boom… Instant opportunity.
You are a personal fitness instructor, local and perfectly positioned to help. Send him a message on LinkedIn congratulating him on his promotion.
Tell him that you work with many other busy executives who use exercise to manage stress and need a personal trainer to keep the accountable.
Once again the possibilities for new work are only limited by your imagination.
Marketing yourself offline is a great way to get more work by tapping into the opportunities around you.
Offline you aren’t competing with a gazillion highly ranked freelancers or people willing to work for nothing. Your local knowledge and physical presence are an advantage that no online freelancer can beat.
Use referrals and leads you find in the local yellow pages and print media to meet your next big clients.
Be a shark in the small local, offline pond not a minnow in the huge, globaldigital ocean – market and connect offline.
PS: Sharks use eye-catching laptop decals from Freelancer at Work to bring food… I mean clients to them 😎
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