If you’ve been trying to build your freelance client list but are frustrated by poor results, here are some reasons you may not be getting hired.
You’re Advertising Your Flaws
A lot of freelancers make the mistake of advertising the reasons that they shouldn’t be hired. They’ll write something along the lines of…
Your ad says you’re looking for a bachelor’s degree and two years of writing experience. I don’t have a degree and I’m just starting out. But I’ve been writing for my church newsletter for years, and I get lots of positive feedback from the congregation. If you’ll give me the opportunity, you won’t regret it…
Rule #1: Never try to sell something by telling people all of the reasons, it isn’t worth buying.
Rule #2: Frame what you have as an asset.
Writing for the church newsletter is writing. If that’s all the experience you’ve got, put as much spin and polish on it as possible.
Talk about how long you’ve been doing it and the work and skills involved. Make it sound like a client and audience well served. Never minimize your experience.
Rule #3: Stop begging–IMMEDIATELY. It’s unbecoming, and it’s the last thing someone wants to deal with when making business decisions.
You’re Gushing Over Prospective Clients
Imagine how weird it would be if some door-to-door salesman came to your house professing his love for you.
I just love you and I love what you’re all about. I enjoy everything you write. I think you’re the best and I’ve wanted to sell you insurance for a long time. Would like you like to buy this insurance plan from me?
Would you say yes? Of course not.
But that’s how some freelancers approach prospective clients. They act like they’re in awe or in love, especially when they’re dealing with major publications or companies.
Client worship is creepy and it’s unprofessional.
When you’re trying to sign a freelance client, you’re not supposed to come across as a fan. And you’re definitely not supposed to be a groupie.
There’s nothing wrong with showing that you’re familiar with a company you’re aiming to work with. But remember to present yourself as a business offering a service to another business.
You Don’t Follow Directions
If you submit half-assed applications, don’t be shocked that you aren’t getting hired.
A lot of freelancers ignore what prospective clients ask for in their ads. They don’t send the resume, work samples, article ideas, etc. as requested. Instead, they send a weak email that shows lackluster interest in the job, and say they’ll send additional information if the company would like to move forward.
Essentially, this tells the prospective client if you really think you want to work with me, I’ll give you what you want. If not, why should I waste my time?
But on the flip side, if you start out showing you don’t follow directions, why should prospective clients waste their time?
When companies tell you what they need to make a hiring decision, give it to them—in full.
You’re Not Addressing The Needs
When a company is looking for a freelancer, it’s because it has one or more needs to fulfill. When you reach out, your goal should be to sell the idea that you are the one who can get that done.
You do that by outlining skills, knowledge, contacts and experiences that are relevant to the work at hand.
But some freelancers get confused and seem to believe that they goal is to sell themselves. They provide information about their family, their pets and their hobbies. They talk about their college GPA, how many awards they’ve received for this and that or how many places they’ve been published.
The people who make hiring decisions do not care about random details about your life.
As a rule of thumb, ask yourself if each piece of information you consider providing helps you convince the recipient that you are a prime pick for the job. If not, leave those details out. They’re just a waste of everyone’s time.
You Aren’t Trying Hard Enough
So, you filled out a profile page on a couple of freelance platforms and you answer a few ads here and there, but you can’t figure out why you’re not getting hired.
Well, a large part of the reason is because you’re not making a wholehearted effort.
You can’t just sit back and wait for prospective clients to uncover your name among the thousands on a platform, and drafting a few applications or sending a few pitches isn’t cause to pat yourself on the back.
If you want freelancing to be a sustainable source of income, you have to treat the hunt for work like a full-time job when you don’t have any projects on your calendar. And when you have work, you should still be marketing and looking for more lucrative opportunities.
Not only do you constantly need to look for freelance clients, but you also need to use different methods. That includes tapping social networks, in-person networking, cold emails and asking personal and professional associates for referrals.
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