One of the biggest challenges as a freelancer is customer acquisition. Especially if you are at the beginning of your self-employment, the acquisition of enough customers is crucial to make ends meet. In this post we have summarized some tips and tricks that can help freelancers to find new jobs.
Even before the actual customer acquisition, there are a few points that freelancers should consider:
- Defining a target audience: Who benefits from your services or products? Whose problems do you solve by what means?
- Identifying a niche and a unique selling point – Focus on specific core competencies. Specialize. What can you do particularly well? Which niche can you serve? That’s important to know for targeted advertising. A specialization often has the nice side effect of being able to demand a higher fee. Define yourself through your knowledge and not through a low price!
- Considering collaborations – Whether with an agency or a freelancer colleague. You are a web designer and have to create a website, but you don’t have time to write the text for it? Collaborate with a copywriter! This way, you can offer your customer a one-stop solution and the copywriter you hired will probably get back to you for web design jobs.
The right time for customer acquisition
The best time to find new customers clearly is: always! In order not to let your orders slow down, it is important to continuously find new customers and plan in advance. For this, you should plan for enough resources – so in addition to money, for example for social media campaigns or a web designer, you should also have sufficient time and energy. On average, freelancers plan to use about two days a month for customer acquisition.
Tip: Customer acquisition is most successful with a busy schedule! At these times, there is not as much pressure to accept a new project.
Cold or warm calling?
When it comes to customer acquisition, the words hot and cold calling are usually used as well. Cold calling describes the approach of customers, with whom the freelancer previously was never in contact with. Warm calling, on the other hand, describes approaching potential customers, the freelancer has already worked with, which is usually easier and more effective.
Customer acquisition approaches
1. Cold calling
A pretty controversial method. While some people consider it outdated and think it is annoying, others see great potential in it. Many freelancers today only send acquisition requests with a work sample by email. Cold calling by phone, however, is more complex and can be quite tough, because not everyone likes to be on the phone and thus manages to present themselves well and is able to convince others of their potential. However, it is definitely something, every freelancer can learn.
In any case, a good question to start with is whether the company is interested in collaborating with freelancers and whether particular services are required. This makes it very easy to determine whether there is a general interest. Often this is not the case, which is why a thick skin and perseverance are required. However, you will also learn from each rejection and find out whether it is best to change your offer or look for another target group.
After a successful phone call, you should send the company an email to thank them for the interview and to summarize the most important points in order to make a lasting impression.
2. Maintaining and expanding your network
A good network is worth its weight in gold and will sooner or later get you new orders. In order to establish a good network, there are various possibilities:
- Visiting industry-specific events: Find out where your target audience meets and mingle with it to give out business cards and establish new contacts. After all, direct contact with potential customers is one of the best ways to get new jobs.
- Participating in seminars and lectures: Don’t just look for potential clients, but also for colleagues and like-minded people within your industry. This can also result in a beneficial business relationship.
- Networking through social media: Nowadays, it is particularly important to have a current profile on the most common business platforms. Here, it is important to describe your work and mention current projects wherever it is appropriate. In addition, regular posts and joining certain freelancer groups contribute to your online presence and to the expansion of your network as well.
- Maintaining an existing network: Show interest in your customers or their businesses, even if your project is already completed to help you secure follow-up opportunities and build a customer base. Regular customers will be happy to recommend you and provide references.
The right positioning is also helpful in self-marketing. The ideal case is, of course, if you manage to establish yourself as an expert in a particular area. This could mean to speak at conferences, to offer webinars or to publish a white paper with industry-relevant information. Other options include running your own blog to share your knowledge and experiences. Even as a guest author, you can make a name for yourself in your industry.
4. Registering on popular project websites
Freelancer project websites are platforms that provide projects for freelancers and create a marketplace for supply and demand. In addition to your hourly rate, your curriculum vitae and an appealing photo, it is also important that your profile is up-to-date. The profile title must speak for itself and contain your top skills, so that it stands out for recruiters or entrepreneurs scrolling through the list. You should also regularly update your project history.
These platforms not only help you to secure new projects, but also to be more visible and to establish new contacts. This is especially important for young freelancers. Selecting dedicated websites for specific industries also increases the likelihood of being found quickly by suitable customers.
Customer acquisition has many facets – whether you’re trying to convince someone of your skills on the phone, approaching various companies with your offer, are relying on your network or cooperating with other freelancers. What’s most important is to act independently and quickly to secure new projects.