When you have made the decision to work for yourself and step away from the security of a salary and employee benefits, life can feel tough.
Sure, there are plenty of upsides, and for many people freelancing is the life they had always dreamt of, but never thought possible. However, a secure stream of work can be harder to establish, some months you can be swamped, yet other times you can feel invisible and have so little work you wonder how you are going to pay the rent.
This is where you need to avoid becoming desperate – because frankly, desperation never looks good.
Here are some ways to avoid desperation and instead exude an air of professionalism and expertise that will have clients queuing for your services.
Tip #1 Be Calm
Your client doesn’t know how many jobs you have, so do not exude desperation, even if this is the first lead you have had in months. This means the following areas need to be handled with care:
Your fee is not up for negotiation. Present your fees as well thought out packages that take into account your skill, your time and your respect for your client’s needs. If that is not acceptable to a potential client, do not go back and offer a lower fee, or enter into a negotiation initiated by them.
When you enter into any form of discussion over your fees you are suggesting you are not confident in your abilities and doubt yourself. Stay calm and stick to your guns.
If you are scratching around for work, it can be tempting to pursue a lead a little too aggressively. However, that is not a good plan. Stay cool. Put the work into the quote and allow that to be the thing that sells your services. Have a plan for following up on quotes but do not bombard the lead with follow up emails that ‘Just wanted to check’ if they got it, if they liked it if they have questions if they/you missed anything…
Do you see where this is going? Be calm here too. One timely follow up would be appropriate, and it should incorporate all your questions. Some you win, some you lose.
Never start work immediately. It doesn’t matter whether you have work or not, leave the client hanging – just a little bit. You want to project an in-demand vibe, not a sat waiting for the phone to ring with no life vibe!
Tip #2 Be Happy
Networking is a must as a freelancer, but do not become the one everyone avoids because of your negativity.
A few small white lies is a lot better than constantly bemoaning the lack of business.
You may think you are speaking in confidence to other professionals on your side of the working relationship fence, but you never know who they might speak to.
Don’t be tempted to go overboard and tell whopping lies about how amazing your business is if you cannot substantiate that. Small is critical here. Smile and say that trade is good. Don’t harp on about how slow things are, or joke about tumbleweed balls rolling past, but equally do not claim to be working for Mark Zuckerberg just because you have a Facebook page – your lies will catch up with you.
When a client or lead contacts you, pop on your stage face and exude cheerful optimism. Try not to keep them on the phone for an hour just because it is the only person you have spoken to that day! Freelancing can be a lonely life but don’t start clinging to clients. Make them feel valued but equally impress the need to close the conversation once the business has been dealt with – you obviously have things to do!
Tip #3 Be Smart
Market your business as a success. If you offer ridiculous offers, you will immediately reek of desperation, and people will avoid you.
Have you ever seen an advert offering you £1000 of training and books for just £9.99 provided you buy today?
That is desperation marketing. Now, in that case, these are faceless companies that are relying on desperate souls. They hope that thousands will be sucked in by their offer, and will purchase before the word gets out that it is, in fact, nothing more than a collection of useless information that gets you nothing. As a single freelancer, you cannot afford to damage your reputation with such ‘click bait’ tactics. You will take heavy damage and the recovery time is detrimental to the short-term gain from anyone that does fall for it.
Present yourself as a professional with authority, and have patience. If you offer to do a job, offering a 70% discount, you will: a) hate having to do that much work for so little money – and rightly so; and b) risk being so inundated with work that you cannot do a good job and end up with a reputation for being cheap but not really that good.
Special offers do have a place, but you need to be realistic. If you want to offer something extra make sure you are not devaluing your service as discussed above. Post good news stories from clients, any positive feedback you have received, and reasons why (in a none threatening manner) you are the person for the job. Steer clear of the loud and pugnacious tactics.
Do not threaten your leads. Have you noticed how these ‘too good to be true’ offers are also a little menacing in tone? If you do not take up this spectacular offer (even though it is too good to be true) your eyes will fall out, and your arm will turn black.
The key to marketing is taking a good product and presenting it honestly to an audience that is likely to purchase it. Not throw it out to every single person on the planet like a crazy person, even if they don’t want to listen to you or are slightly scared of you – because guess what?
That is desperation, and desperation never looks good.
Have you been in similar situation? How did it work out? Let me know in the comments.