All programmers and graphic designers, essentially all types of freelancers want more work and clients especially better types of projects with more pay and clients that are easy to deal with. You’ll never struggle to find clients if you do it right.
What will get you through that door and win over your new client is the first impression, your communication and if most of that is done online it means what you say in your proposal and what you include is so important.
1. Say something unique, interesting, or something related to what the client wrote in the brief/work request to highlight the fact that you actually read it. You’d be surprised how many freelancers don’t read the entire project description before responding with a bid or proposal. It’s a poor way to do things if you hope to send out a massive number of proposals and bids hoping to land some work if all your proposals are without thought, poorly written, and without care.
2. What differentiates you from the competitors? Majority of the proposal and bids that come in say something to the effect of, “I am so and so, and I have 15 years of experience in this area and I am an expert with knowledge in all these different programming languages….” So what? Everyone says that. The 20 other guys just told me the same thing.
Yes, you do need to say what your experience and level of expertise is, but put that near the end or in your profile. It’s good to know but not the deciding factor. Ratings, feedback, and testimonials ranks a bit higher than an unproven freelancer or someone with lower ratings even if they say they have more experience and knowledge.
3. Learn to listen better and ask questions to see what the most important points are that will sell the client and get them to choose you. They will tell you.
What exactly are you looking for?
What kind of programmer or designer or contractor are you hoping to find?
How would you decide or what would make you pick or prefer one freelancer over another?
Is there anything you would like to add or tell me in addition to your project description?
Who will be deciding which contractor to hire and making that final approval?
Let the client talk as much as they want. Just pay attention and keep mental notes.
Don’t ask, “What can I do or say to convince you that we can better serve you than our competitors?” Most clients won’t tell you or answer if you ask the question that directly so you need to be more subtle. Ask instead, “What have my competitors said, done, or presented that have impressed you the most?” Listen and let them tell you, and then do those things better than your competitors. Voila!
Be a better communicator. Understanding the scope of the project, what the client wants, and dealing with any issues that arises in a professional manner is so important. That’s why some of the cheap contractors with the heavy accent and language problems will not be able to compete with a contractor whose work and price is the same if the other person’s communication skills are better.
When I’m looking for someone to do some contract work, I like knowing that the freelance contractor knows what I’m talking about and what I need.
Repeat. Re-iterate. Ask for clarification.
Offers past work examples or other types of examples that shows “something similar to what the client is asking for.” Don’t show them 100+ examples of unrelated work. Do mention that you have a huge portfolio and lots of other skills and examples and send it or let them know they can see if they would like to. But the most important thing someone wants to see is, “Can you deliver to me exactly what I am asking for?” If you can, I’m sold.
WHERE DO YOU FIND THE WORK?
4. On Craigslist (under Gigs-computer, creative, writing, etc.)
5. On forums in your niche (Cultivate relationships. There are always people asking for design work and programming help on forums)
6. Word of mouth (Ask your previous clients if they know other people who need help and if they would be someone who that client would recommend. Find out why or why not.)
7. 99designs (For designers)
8. Advertising and Media type of companies, Tech Consulting and Graphic Design Agencies, etc. (Some big agencies need subcontractors)
AFTER YOU GET THE PROJECT:
Be detailed oriented and check your work.
One thing that annoys me with some freelance contractors are in the tiny details and errors I keep finding. Errors like typos, misalignment, no spacing, or just things you don’t notice initially until you look closer. When I say I want the Terms and Conditions in a box on a webpage it doesn’t mean I want all that text in the box squished together with no spacing, no paragraphs and the section titles are unbold.
Use common sense. Offer advice and be helpful. Be and act like an expert.
If someone is a graphic artist and I have to tell them that something is not aligned properly and the bottom layered background graphic is sticking out a bit at the end and showing when it’s not supposed to be, then what does that demonstrate? This isn’t about being picky and being difficult to deal with, it’s about an expert who should take pride in their work and do a good job.
Ask for feedback, a testimonial, and make sure everything is complete and that client is satisfied when the project is finished. Ask, “Are you happy with the work that I’ve done and did I miss anything? If you are completely satisfied could you please leave me a positive feedback and a testimonial, I would really appreciate this. Then thank them for it.
Remember what is important to your long term business and your pocket book is repeat clients. If it takes you an extra 10-15 minutes to do an outstanding job, then do it. Go the extra mile. It will pay off in the end from the longer term relationship you develop and cultivate.
What I’ve never received from any contractor so far is an email a week or two later asking me if everything is ok and if there are any errors or bugs that I’ve found that needs to be fixed, thanking me again for the business and asking if I have any future projects coming up and if I will be needing that kind of service again in the next 3-6 months. Do this, and I guarantee you will get more business. Create a standard follow up email or letter you send out after the project ends.
There is great freedom and flexibility in being a programming and graphic design freelance contractor, hopefully the above tips and advice will make you a much better freelance contractor, bring you more business and keep your schedule fully booked with clients all year round.