How to Get Clients: Insights and Tips for Freelancers

By Alexis Rodrigo | Entrepreneurship

Feb 08
How to Get Clients

Below is a live presentation I made. I hope you'll find it useful!

(Be forewarned: I don't start speaking until 10 seconds into the recording):

The following is a transcript of the video:

I've been getting a common question both on Facebook and by email from freelancers. And that question is, "How do you get clients?"

Most of them are new at freelancing but even those who've been freelancing
for five years or more still have this question.

And if you're a freelancer and you're wondering where or how to find your next client, it's an urgent question because the answer will affect your ability to make a living to support yourself and/or your family.

Freelancers: Your answer to this question will affect your ability to make a living to support yourself and/or your family

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While we're  waiting for the actual show to begin, can you do me a favor and share the link to this video with freelancers you know who you think might be able to benefit from it? You can look either below the video or somewhere maybe beside the video for a share link.

Before we begin I wanted to share with you some books that have helped me when I was getting started. I began freelancing in 2008, so these are not the newest books and I am sure there are newer books out there about my marketing for freelancers but these are very good. I think they're still available, so if you're inclined I recommend these.

The first one is Marketing for Solos by Jeanna Poole and I remember when I had a website for freelancers, I interviewed Jeanna in a webinar and she's a really smart lady. You will learn a lot from from this book.

?????Let's see, what does it say? So it's talking about finding your niche, speaking the language of results with copywriting, living your message, choosing the right marketing tools and activities.

This was published in 2011 but, you know, the principles of marketing do not change. The tools, the platforms they may change but the principles of marketing stay the same.

The other book  I recommend is The Wealthy Freelancer. This book was written by three freelance copywriters, Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage, and Ed Gandia.

I have also interviewed Steve and Ed Gandia and I once collaborated on something for freelancers.

These guys are living it. They're full-time freelancers, they're earning amazing incomes from freelancing so when I see someone who's doing what I want to do or who has achieved what I want to achieve, I listen to them.

The Biggest Mistake Freelancers Make with Marketing

When I asked my subscribers what they've been doing and what hasn't been working, what struck me was that people are doing some of the same things. But for some people the strategy a works but for other people the same strategy hasn't been working.

That makes you wonder right? That maybe it's not the strategy per se that's that's lacking, maybe it's a personality fit, maybe it's a market fit.

There's something I wanted to show you and this relates with what I think is one of the biggest mistakes freelancers make when we're marketing our services:

We tend to overestimate what a specific strategy or tactic can do and we underestimate the amount of time and/or money it will take to make that strategy work.

Does that make sense?

Kim is saying that for her BNI networking with BNI has been the best for her business and BNI referrals account for over 50% of her income.

That is great! Now, when you find something that works then you want to  double down on that and optimize it, so it works even better.

Let me just show you this matrix. The x-axis shows time. Less time is on the left and the more time that a particular marketing strategy takes, it's going to be on the right side of the matrix.

How to Get Clients - Marketing Matrix

And on the y-axis I'm showing you the cost to implement a particular marketing strategy. The lower cost is at the bottom of the image, and the higher cost strategies are on top.

This is a matrix where we can map out different marketing strategies based on the amount of time that it takes to get results and the amount of money it takes to implement.

I put referrals and in the third quadrant. Let me know if you agree with my mapping of these strategies, okay?

I think asking for a referral takes very little time to do and you could get results in a very short time as well, and it doesn't cost anything really. It doesn't cost anything to pick up the phone and call somebody or to send somebody an email or a quick message even on Facebook .

So next in this quadrant which takes a little bit more time and a little bit more money is speaking public speaking. I found public speaking to be very effective because you're displaying your expertise right then and there, so people are already sold to you, assuming  you give a good

And I'm talking about live speaking, by the way. This is face to face, not what I'm doing right now, although this could actually work as well. But what I'm talking about is speaking like on a stage in a live in-person event.

My question for you, Kim, is you have a BNI networking group, have you tried speaking getting speaking engagements or do you have opportunities within BNI to do something like this? To address a bigger group and show
them what what you're good at show them your marketing expertise?

Moving on from marketing strategies that don't take a lot of time, we have social ads like Facebook.

Kim is saying that they take turns being the featured speaker for 10 minutes. That's great, that is something. And you can absolutely optimize your 10-minute presentation so that you will get even more inquiries later on. One thing I'm thinking of is to pitch your consulting services rather than your 
 web design services because I am assuming that you charge more for consulting, you'll make more money as a consultant than as a web designer.

I'm really glad  you have that opportunity. Try to find other opportunities if there are other local groups in your area then you can start networking there as well and try to pitch a topic for them so they will consider you as a speaker.

Going back to social ads, by this I mean  something like Facebook ads where you're targeting very specifically your ideal client. I just sold, for example, a 497 coaching using a Facebook ad that I spent I think $2 on. That's an excellent ROI right there.

If you notice I put social ads a little bit higher in terms of the cost but, in my case, really, two dollars is nothing. In my case this would be lower down in the quadrant in terms of cost. So I guess when it comes to ads it really depends on how well your ad converts. If your ad converts very well, then we would consider it a low-cost strategy. But if it takes you hundreds of dollars or even thousands of dollars to have any ROI, then that would be a high-cost strategy

Let me know in the comments if you've tried Facebook ads for your services and how that went for you.

I am NOT a Facebook ad expert in fact this happened on my first try so it might be beginner's luck, but my tip would be to use a post that is very rich in content, where you're giving a lot of free content, again displaying your expertise.

Actually, you can start with a post that's already doing well on your page so when you're already getting a lot of engagement on a post then you know that it resonates. And when I say engagement, it's from people who belong are your ideal clients.

Second, you're targeting the audience. This is the strength of Facebook. Facebook knows so much about its users that we are able to target really specific groups of people in our ads.

And so look at your targeting and make sure that you are really displaying your ads to the right group of people. Especially if you're targeting local, it's so easy to target  the specific group of people who are your ideal clients. Also, when with local, I think you have a bigger opportunity just because of targeted it is, so your ads don't cost a lot.

That would be a topic for a future Facebook live, so let's go back to our matrix.  

On the low cost but more time quadrant is content marketing and social media. I noticed that this is where a lot of new freelancers, especially, trip up. They hear about social media marketing and content marketing and and they hear a lot of hype and they get their hopes up thinking just because they've created a Facebook account and a LinkedIn account that the the inquiries are just going to pour in.

But that's not how it works.

Content marketing and social media marketing are long-term games. You have to be in it in the long term.

I was just helping a friend of mine who just opened her practice, and I helped her by putting up her website. Then a few weeks later she emailed me saying she's very discouraged because she's not getting any leads from her website.

But it's only been a few months.  I think this is where people think "if you build it they will come."

A lot of new freelancers think if they build their website then the leads will come, the inquiries will come, the clients will come. But that's not how it works, and even if you're you're good at SEO, if you have a new website, SEO is going to be more difficult,  depending on what industry you're in.

My website is about 10 years old and, in internet age, that's a long time. My website has a lot of domain authority or domain ranking in the eyes of Google and other search engines, only because it's been around for a long time.

But for someone who's just starting, if you just built your website, you really cannot expect to rank high in search engines very quickly. And of course that depends on what  keywords you're targeting.

It's the same thing with social media. If you just got on LinkedIn and you have 15 connections, and you don't even do anything, you just put your profile up there, then how could you expect to get results right away?

This is what I mean when I say a lot of freelancers make the mistake of having too high expectations. These things take time.

With our matrix, something that can work faster is direct mail but it costs a lot of money. When you consider any strategy think of this matrix in terms of how much is it going to cost you to implement that strategy and how long will it take for that strategy to bring results.

Sometimes even though something costs a lot, like direct mail, if it can also bring your results faster then you you may want to consider doing that. Just because something is more expensive doesn't mean you won't do it.

For example, BNI is a little bit expensive but if it's bringing you a good ROI and then, definitely, you should do it.

Now I want to bring special attention to this item that is low on time and low in terms of cost: referrals.

Your Most Important Freelancing Asset

Here's a quote I I saw the other day and I thought it was such a good quote for freelancers:

How to Get Clients - Your network is your net worth

"Your network is your net worth." Tim Sanders

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Have you heard this quote? And do you agree or disagree with this quote?

Let me tell you a story.

A few years ago I left the job. It was a work-at-home job, but I resigned when I didn't have a new job waiting for me and I had neglected my freelance business so I had no prospects waiting for me.

For a few days I was freaking out  because we have a mortgage and I have three children to feed. I was wondering how my husband and I were going to do this.

One of my clients who came to me as a result of this, she said, "When you have nothing, when all your material things are taken away from you, what are you have left with? If everything you owned was taken away from you, what do you have left?"

And I thought, "You know, if you took away the computer, the Wi-Fi, everything, take away all my books... what I have left is my skills and my knowledge, everything I know--no one can take that away--and my

No one can take away your relationships, so I absolutely agree with this quote.

You may lose all your possessions, but no one can take away your relationships.

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Your network is one of your most important assets as a freelancer. If you're just starting out, do you believe  you have a wide network?

And this is why things like BNI works. It's because networking works. BNI works because it's face-to-face networking.

Sometimes, especially freelancers who are just new coming into it for the first time  don't think that they have a network to tap, but that is not true.

Because as long as you're alive you have a network.

You have, first of all, your family. You have your friends and, if you've been going to school, you have a network based on your school that you attended. By this  I mean from grade school, high school, college or university, post-graduate, or even certain non-formal schooling for certification or any other kind of training that you got. You have teachers and mentors.

If you've worked beforehand, then every place you worked. you have a network there.

Don't forget you have a wide network. You have a network in every place  you've ever worked and nowadays you have a network online as

But have I exhausted all the in-person networks? We have family, friends, school, places you worked in, places you volunteer, people you know from church, your neighbors, even the parents of your children's friends.

You have a wider network than you probably realize.

So tell me, thinking of your network, do all these people know that you're freelancing? Do they know what you're up to?

And we also have our online networks nowadays, Facebook groups, LinkedIn connections, LinkedIn groups. And if you're part of a mastermind online, if you joined an online challenge, if you signed up for an online course and it comes with a Facebook group, all the other people in those groups are part of your network now.

There are 3 kinds of circles in your network.

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If you look at your network, you realize that there are three kinds of networks:

How to Get Clients - Networks

You can imagine your network is like a net that radiates from the center and right in the very middle is what I would call your hot prospects or hot people in your network.

These are people who know you and love you already, like your family, your closest friends. They are in the hot circle, as well as current and past clients who have been very happy with your services. These are people who are in the hot circle. Have you reached out to them? Do they know what you're doing? Do they know what you're up to and if not, why not?

This tends to be the smallest circle.

And then there's the warm circle. These are people who know you but maybe they they're not necessarily convinced that you're very good at what to do or  they're just not aware. These are people who maybe don't really understand what you're doing.

But they know you, they've interacted with you already.

Normally there are  more people in this orange  warm circle than in the hot circle. To think about it: does your warm network know what you've been doing? Do they know that you're looking for clients?

And then finally there's the cold network. This is what we usually hit with advertising and with with direct mail. These are people who don't know you from Jane or Joe. They don't know you. There's a lot of them but they take more convincing.

But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't tap them, of course. When you've done everything you can to tap your hot and warm networks, then you go to your cold network right.

The key thing to ask yourself is, "Have I tapped into my network?"

If you haven't, what is keeping you from asking for referrals?

I had somebody just email me saying that her biggest constraint is the lack of confidence. She doesn't have confidence in her own abilities and that's why she doesn't ask for referrals and she doesn't approach prospects.

Again, that's a topic for a whole 'nother presentation, but if that is a problem for you, then  just sit down and think for a few minutes about what can give you confidence.

And, if necessary, why not talk to somebody who is in your hot circle and ask them, "What do you think I have to offer a client?"

Maybe their answer will help bolster your confidence.

The key thing to ask yourself is, "Have I tapped into my network?"

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This Could Help You Get A New Client Today...

What you can do in the next 10 minutes after we finish this presentation is to sit down, make a list of people in your network, and make sure you've exhausted your list.

And then reach out to them, call them, send them an email or send them a message on Facebook or LinkedIn, or anywhere else you're connected with them and just ask them for a referral. It's as simple as that.

Or if you're feeling more confident and braver, and if this is somebody, for example, who has been your client or you think would make a perfect client for you, then go ahead and pitch your services to them. Offer your services to them.

But if you're nervous about that then a less direct way of doing it would be to ask for a referral. Just say, "Hey I'm marketing my services as [XYZ or whatever it is, describe it]. Do you know anyone who might like to know about a service like that?"

It's that simple, really, so try that.

And also, before you go, I want to call your attention to a free report that I have for you for watching this presentation. It's a report on how to put your website together so that people who are looking at your website will be pre-sold and warmed up to hire you.

Get your copy of the free report, The Savvy Freelancer's Website Secrets.

The Savvy Freelancer's Website Secrets

I used to sell this report, then took it off the market. I updated it and now I am giving it to you. It is my gift to you for watching this video.

And do me a favor? If you found this useful, would you please share this video with your friends, with people in Facebook groups or on your personal timeline? There is a share button at  either the bottom or on the side of this
video. Go ahead and share this video with others. I would appreciate that very much.

In the meantime, that's what I have for you. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments. Even if you're watching the recording I do go back and respond to each and every comment that I get. So any questions? Type them in the comments please.

Thank you guys for joining me. I hope you found this helpful and let me know how it goes.

I will be back again next Wednesday 11 a.m. Eastern with more free content for you. I hope you'll join me again next time!


About the Author

Lexi Rodrigo is a communication and marketing professional for multimillion-dollar businesses, co-author of Blog Post Ideas: 21 Proven Ways to Create Compelling Content and Kiss Writer's Block Goodbye, and host of "Marketing Insights LIVE!." Connect with Lexi on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.