How to win at the freelancing game
Seven counter-intuitive ideas that actually work.
1. Be unavailable
When you first start out you want to spend as much time as possible on your computer. After all, the Internet doesn't keep office hours, so why should you? Surely all clients will be grateful for that? Not necessarily. Same may see it as desperation and price your work accordingly. (I speak from experience here.)
However, if you allocate blocks of time to clients, along with the best times to contact you, you're letting them know that even if their projects rock your world they're not the centre of it.
When you build up a relationship with a client, based on trust and economics, it will make good business sense to re-prioritise if the job calls for it. Until then, schedule your work as if you were an employee. Set time aside for marketing, lunch, pitching, accounts and all the other mission critical tasks that your business depends upon.
You can add value by improving upon an agreed deadline, or providing more content - or more detailed content - than they were prepared to pay for (but still asked for in the original price!). It shows you are capable and, once you've ably demonstrated your capabilities, you're in a good position to negotiate a better price next time.
NB If you exceed the agreed expectations, make sure they're aware of it.
3. Offer a discount
Before you run to the hills, screaming, hear me out. Under the right circumstances a discount can work in your favour.
- Your base rate remains but there's a 20% discount on extra work ordered the same week.
- A 20% discount if you pay for five pieces in advance.
- A 20% discount to the client on all work that month if someone they you to buys £300 of work in advance.
In each case the discount is dependent upon you getting something extra in return.
4. Give content for free
I know. Sometimes this one hurts. Again, use judiciously.
-Four pieces for the price of three, if bought in advance.
- A second rights piece (with your byline and back link) to accompany the piece they bought.
- A review copy of an ebook, for which you'd really appreciate an online review.
- A white paper that relates to their business and references your own.
Similar to discounts, a freebie needs to be more than an act of generosity (they're okay too from time to time though) if it's a business decision.
5. Make yourself indispensable
This is not the same as being available 24/7. You can become indispensable by offering other services, once you understand the client's business.
Writing copy is closely associated with marketing and promotions, or proofreading existing literature, or editing website content.
6. Become an ambassador
Most freelancers I know have an active online presence. They are happy to share content attributed to their name and spread the word to their followers and contacts. This represents free advertising to clients and access to new potential markets, and they'll love you for it.
Although comparison sites have revolutionised consumer behaviour, often we're just as happy to go with a personal recommendation. As a freelancer you will likely encounter fellow writers, web designers, graphic designers, marketeers, sales teams, etc. Sometimes, for example when you are busy but you don't want to disappoint a client, you can even recommend a competitor (ideally, one you have a reciprocal relationship with) to handle the work in your place. This is always better than trying some sneaky subcontracting sleight of hand.
When you can wholeheartedly recommend another professional (whether there they offer a discount for it or not!), you are able to solve another of your client's problems. Who wouldn't want to do business with someone like that again?
* * *
So there you have it. A little creative thinking, intelligently applied, that can elevate your reputation and set you apart from the competition.
Which is the perfect opportunity to all of you a free comedy ebook (100 gags - a quick read!) in return for a review on Amazon.
Send me a DM on Twitter - @DerekWriteLines - if you're interested