Freelancers: 4 Reasons Why You’re Not Picking Up New Contracts
It’s easy to see why people thing freelancers lead a charmed life. Working in their own time, ast their own pace without a boss breathing down their neck. Having the autonomy to map out your own day, and plan your work around your life. Being able to take on only work that intrigues and excites you. On paper, it’s the perfect way to live and work. But the reality that most freelancers live a far less idyllic life than their salaried counterparts tend to believe. To be a freelancer is to face a constant uphill struggle in many ways. A struggle to wring every drop of productivity out of each day. A struggle to ensure that your next month’s pay will be equal to or greater than next months. A struggle to deliver both quality and value to the client, so that they never feel inclined to take a look at the competition.
In many cases, freelancers have to spend an inordinate amount of time justifying themselves to their clients. Savvy freelancers also need to keep their existing clients happy while also hustling for new clients. Career progression is hard when you’re a freelancer. You need to be able to identify and engage new clients who will be able to challenge you and help you grow, while also providing you with better quality, better paid work. And that’s not easy. If you feel as though you’re stagnating as a freelancer, here are some potential reasons why you’re not picking up those lucrative new contracts that will help you take the next step in your career…
Your online presence makes you look like small fry
Most freelancers engage their prospective clients through digital means. As such, clients can be expected to do a little homework before they engage with you. They’ll want to see what they can find out about you online. And if all they find is a Twitter feed full of content that’s unrelated to your work, a residential postal address, a gmail address and a mobile phone number, they’re likely to identify you as small fry. That might not necessarily be a problem. However, it may cause you to miss out on more lucrative contracts from higher-paying clients.
If you’re a freelancer, you run your own business. You are your own product. Adjust your online presence accordingly. You should, at the very least have a website, a professional email address and a phone number that isn’t a mobile number. Check out www.virtualheadquarters.com.au to get yourself a virtual receptionist. It’s a minimal overhead, but one that can generate significant return on your investment. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Which means you should be investing in yours!
Audit your online presence to find any gaps in marketing. Once you have the basics pinned down, you can start to use more sophisticated methods to attract clients. Try a few different marketing techniques and conduct a CRO split test on your paid-for search engine ads. You’ll soon be able to see what is working and what isn’t, then you can really focus in on refining your strategy.
You’re not sharing samples of your work
It goes without saying that clients, especially well-established and high-paying clients, want to see what they’re getting for their money. As such, if you find that prospective clients aren’t responding to your attempts to reach out to them, perhaps it’s because they have yet to see what you’re capable of.
As such, you should have links to online samples of your work either on your website or your professional social media presence (e.g. your LinkedIn profile). Make sure these are professional samples and not, for instance, projects undertaken while studying at university. Clients will want to see that you have your own style and tone of voice. But they will also want to see that you can work to a specific client brief.
You’re sticking with bad clients
Of course, in order to engage new clients at all, you need to free up the time to look for them. And you simply can’t do that if you’re sticking with bad clients. You know the ones. The ones that pay poorly. The ones you have to keep chasing to make good on their invoices. The ones that are always haggling over prices. Yet, because they provide you with enough work to get by, you can’t bear to tear yourself away from them. But while ditching a bad client may leave you temporarily out of pocket, the opportunity loss you endure bu staying with them is far worse.
You’re not networking… or you’re networking badly
Finally, even in the COVID-era, it’s important for freelancers to be able to keep hustling and getting their names and faces noticed by the right people. While networking events have largely migrated to the digital space they’re still happening, so there’s no excuse to miss out.
Just remember what networking events are not. They are not your opportunity to pitch. They’re an opportunity to meet people, get to know their needs and make contacts that you can follow up on later. Pitching at a networking event is largely regarded as bad form and is unlikely to get the results you hope for.