Today marks the 1-year anniversary of me leaving my day job and going back to freelancing.
*throws confetti in the air*
There are some things I miss about a “normal” job, like having great co-workers and being part of a leading company; my income, however, is not missed. I just ran my numbers, and this past year, I ended up making at least $4000 per month on average, about $800 more than I was making working a 9-5 (before taxes, of course).
If you want to know how I pulled in that level of income, you’re in luck.
Ever since starting this blog, I’ve polled my subscriber base a couple times asking for topic suggestions. How to get clients is one of the most-requested topics you all want to hear more about.
So that’s what I’ll be covering today. You’re welcome.
A Quick Caveat on How to Get Clients YOUR way
This post won’t be covering how I managed to build up a side income so I could quit my job and start freelancing again. You can read about that here.
This post also won’t be telling exactly you what to do, as I’ve switched gears from trying to be a so-called freelancing “expert” to just reporting on what’s worked for me in my business and which geek businesses I’m passionate about. You can read about why that switch happened in this previous post.
Instead, this post is going to focus on the three marketing methods that were instrumental in helping me earn ~$4000 per month as a freelance writer.
It’s likely if you put in the work and use these same tactics, you’ll eventually see similar results. However, I’m not promising you will, and I can’t be held responsible if you don’t earn as much as I did.
This is because every. Single. Business. Is different. Many of you who read this are freelancers, but some of you are e-commerce store owners or media/content creators. We all operate our businesses on our own terms and have our own specific needs.
As such, your mileage may vary with these tactics. Feel free to adjust them, or try something different all together if they don’t work.
(Side note: Pirates of the Caribbean 5 comes out this year, ya’ll. I’m STOKED. Expect me to write more “savvys” as the months approach.)
3 Surefire Marketing Methods Which Worked for Me in 2016
Now that we’re straight on what you’ll be reading here, let’s dive in. These are the top three ways I used last year to land more clients which consistently showed good return on my time, efforts, and financial investments:
- Attending conferencesI’m in love with conferences. Maybe it’s just my introvertedness finally falling away, or maybe it’s that I finally have a chance to get out of the house. No matter the case, conferences give me happy business tingles.Out of all the events I’ve attended this year, only one hasn’t resulted in a new client (yet). But at the same time, I showed face at a conference tailored specifically around my niche, the online video/streaming media industry. Now more people know me.
I also met in person an editor whose trade publication I’d written for twice, and he ended up assigning me a story I pitched him for this month, the fee of which will end up covering my travel expenses. Score.I recently guest posted on Be a Freelance Blogger about why I love conferences so much and how they helped me get more clients this past year. You can check that post out for more details, but also feel free to leave me any questions you might have in the comments, too!
- Asking for referrals/warm connectionsIt’s an age-old tactic, but referrals or warm connections/introductions truly do make a huge difference when you’re looking for more clients.Why? Because it’s easier for you to impress potential clients by having someone they trust or already know recommend your skills, than require you to prove your worth to them on your own.
When I knew I wanted to go back to freelancing, for example, I reached out to my network and simply asked if anyone needed work. The third client I ended up signing in 2016 was through an introduction from Laura Leigh Clarke, a business coach and prosperity creator I’d been following a while because we’ve connected via email over Doctor Who. Laura didn’t need my help, but one of her coaching clients did.Additionally, the client that’s paid me the most to date was also referred to me from a current client. I just renewed this contract for another three months, and with more high-paying work added on. Without this referral, I wouldn’t have hit my income goals last year.
- Updating my portfolioBy the time I decided to try to get back into freelancing, I knew I’d have to update my portfolio. It was a sad, forgotten little corner of my site. This is how bad it was: I still had links to articles that were no longer working because some of my previous clients were no longer in business!
I spent hours re-working my portfolio by choosing samples which I knew would impress potential clients in my target industries. I also made it a priority to get samples for types of work I hadn’t yet done but wanted to do more of, like copywriting and white papers.
Having these samples readily available in my portfolio came in handy when potential clients asked for them. I landed my second copywriting job of 2016 when that client saw how I’d increased downloads of another company’s plugin by over 60% just by rewriting their home page copy.While I don’t get regular inquiries through my site specifically, an updated, relevant portfolio helped me land many referral clients in 2016. Plus, it was nice not being ashamed to send someone to my portfolio anymore.
4 Client Attraction Goals for This Year
I plan to continue using the methods I mentioned above to get more clients in 2017. But I also want to try a few more strategies which I’ve heard others have had success with:
- Cold emails/pitchesI did some of this last year, but not nearly enough. I know if I challenged myself to send out even three cold pitches a week to potential new clients, I’d land more work. After all, this method was one of the ways I was able to build up enough of a side income to quit my job.
- OptimizationI need to start optimizing my online social accounts and related sites to attract potential customers. For example, my LinkedIn profile is in desperate need of a makeover using keywords my clients might be searching for. Likewise, I need to research SEO and then optimize my writer’s site for one or two keywords. Speaking of my writer’s site…
- BloggingI’m going to start adding at least one blog post a month to my writer’s site. This will keep it fresh and updated in Google’s eyes, and also provide useful information for potential clients. I also hope to use the blog to post my thoughts on industry updates and changes, to set myself up as more of an expert to my potential clients in my niche.
- OutsourcingHow will outsourcing work help me get more clients, you ask? Because it’ll free up time for me to find higher-paying clients and spend time on their projects. I’ll also be looking into how I can outsource tasks I don’t want to do, such as bookkeeping and transcribing interviews.
And that’s it! That’s everything I did in 2016 which helped me hit the $4000 per month mark, and everything I plan to test out for the rest of this year to hopefully bump that number up to $6000+ per month.
Like I said above, I know this post doesn’t give you step-by-step instructions on how to get clients specifically for your business. Only someone who knows your business intimately can give you exact advice on that; however, I hope my examples are enough of a guide to help some of you get out of your marketing and client-obtaining ruts.
Here’s to a prosperous 2017!
What’s one way you plan to get new clients this year? Let me know in the comments below!