Is Freelance Success in Your Future?

fortune telling and freelance helpWouldn’t it be great if you could just gaze into a crystal ball and see the names of clients that need freelance help right now? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

Just 3% of qualified prospects are actively searching for someone who provides your services, says business development agency Vorsight. This means that:

97% of prospective clients don’t need freelance help when you first contact them.

So how do you find the 3% of prospects who need help now?

You don’t. Doing this would be like finding a needle in a haystack: almost impossible.

Focus on Soon Instead of Now

Instead, you focus on the prospects who are likely to need your services soon. You won’t need a crystal ball to find them—because 4 out of every 10 prospects you reach out to are likely to need freelance help over the next few months, says Ed Gandia in “Why Your Biggest Client Opportunities Are Slipping Between Your Fingers—and What to Do About It.” Gandia is founder of High-Income Business Writing.

These are the prospects who say things like:

  • “We’ll put you in our freelance database.”
  • “We’ll keep you in mind for future work.”

You may think that they’re blowing you off. But they’re not. If prospects aren’t interested in your services, they won’t respond at all. If they don’t use freelancers, they may ignore you or they’ll tell you that they don’t use freelancers.

Prospects who respond positively but don’t hire you just aren’t ready “to buy” yet. The timing isn’t right. I call these interested prospects.

Marketing Donut says:

  • 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months
  • 20% will take more than 12 months to buy.

In freelancing, I’d say that interested prospects often takes up to about a year, sometimes more, to hire you.

Convert Prospects to Clients

When the timing is right, you need to make sure that the interested prospect thinks of you first for the freelance job. There’s an easy way to do this:

Follow up.

Gandia, C.J. Hayden, and other marketing experts agree that following up with prospects is one of the most important things that freelancers can do.

“Following up consistently is one of the most productive marketing activities there is, but it won’t work if you don’t do it,” says C.J. Hayden in “44 Ways to Follow Up with Your Prospects.”

Most freelancers don’t follow up.

Make Follow Up a Habit

Done right, you’re helping interested prospects, not bugging them. Follow up is not about “selling yourself.” In fact, most of the time, you shouldn’t even mention your freelance services.

Instead, you send interested prospects relevant third-party information and resources, such as reports, blog posts, and podcasts, or links to these.

Other polite, professional ways to follow up without selling include:

  • Commenting on a prospect’s post on LinkedIn or Twitter
  • Congratulating a prospect on a professional or company achievement
  • Sending birthday or holiday cards.

Sending interested prospects an information-based eNewsletter about your business (2-4 times a year) allows you to provide useful content while positioning yourself as an expert and subtly marketing your services.

Once or twice a year, you can also send a professional, low-key email reminding the prospect about your freelance services.

“How to Be the First in Line for Freelance” work tells you more about how to follow up with prospects, including how to find relevant content to send them.

Once you get organized, follow up only takes a few minutes every now and then. Make follow up a habit, and you’ll be the first freelancer your interested prospects think of when the timing is right for them to hire a freelancer.

Have you gotten high-paying clients by following up? Email and tell me your story:

Learn More

From The Mighty Marketer

“How to Be the First in Line for Freelance Work”

Other Resources

Ed Gandia, “Why Your Biggest Client Opportunities Are Slipping Between Your Fingers—and What to Do About It”

C.J. Hayden, “44 Ways to Follow Up with Your Prospects”