Follow up with all your leads and continue to follow-up on them until they let you know they are no longer interested.
So you decided to become a freelancer and found out it is not as easy as you thought. You have enlisted the help of websites such as Upwork to showcase your skills and pick up a few projects to make some extra money. Unfortunately, you found out that many other freelancers have come before you and have a leg up on the process, dissipating your aspirations to be a profitable freelancer.
How did they get there? After all, each freelancer has to start somewhere. That is, without experience, a resume, or anything to show to a client, they have stuck their neck out enough to convince their first client to hire them. I was in those very shoes a while ago but now have more work than I can handle. My secret? Well, I will never tell you everything, but I will let you in on a few techniques I used to help me in the beginning.
Have a complete profile and portfolio:
Prior to even bidding on a project through a freelance website, make sure you have a complete profile. You should have a profile image, samples of your work, and some type of rate sheet. Prospective employers want to do their research on various contractors prior to even inviting you to bid. This means that you are already increasing your chances of winning a job by being invited. However, you will not get invited unless you have enough information on your profile for employers to look at. After all, clients who invite you to bid are more than likely to have looked at and like your profile.
Be personal in your bid:
When you bid on a project, be personable. Do not use a template to bid as this shows clients you do not really care about the project and are instead “shot gunning” bids in hopes of landing a few projects in return. In your bid, state something that shows you read the job description and that you are not using a template.
Let me show you how it works:
Let’s assume that the project is for writing news articles for a website. This is an example of a bad bid:
“I can write the articles you need. Examples of my work show that I am a great writer and I feel that I am qualified for this job. I can complete this project to your specifications.”
Here is an example of a more personable bid:
“I read the description of your project and feel that I am a perfect fit for website ABC123. Specifically, I feel that my expertise would be most beneficial for the entertainment section of ABC123. I would write articles in a similar format as your post from June 22nd entitled “Here Is An Article Title.” I have also attached samples of other articles I have written that would fit into the categories of sports, business, and health on ABC123 as well.”
The above response actually talks to the client while the previous is more like an ad copy. Clients are more willing to award you a project or at least follow-up with questions (which gives you an opportunity to close the deal) when you are personable.
Follow-up on every bid:
Follow-up on every bid that you make. When you place a bid through a freelance website (note: not all sites will let you send messages to clients unless they initiate the contact), make sure to follow-up with them prior to the expatriation of the bidding process. Once the process is over, follow-up with them again until they select you or another freelancer. Sounds like you need to become a pesky salesperson. In fact, you are, and here is why.
A 2013 report from Darnell Corp. published in Business News Daily documents the percentages for follow-up sales:
48% quite after the first contact
72% stop after the second contact
84% give up after the third contact
90% give up on the fourth
The problem with these numbers is that the majority of committals come in the 3rd and 4th contacts. This means that half of all people give up on a sale that they could have closed with one or two follow-ups. Another 72% of those who move forward give up on a sale they could have closed with one more phone call.
The percentages above put you in a great group of people with the opportunity to succeed. Follow up with all your leads and continue to follow-up on them until they let you know they are no longer interested. Then, follow up with them after a few months to make sure they haven’t change their mind.
Respond quickly to questions:
Clients will often send follow-up questions to you prior to selecting a freelancer. However, they will send the same questions to all of the prospective freelancers. That is one of the reasons why the Harvard Business Review recommends that you be quick with your answer. If you use a freelance website, make sure that you set your options so that you are notified whenever you receive a message on the site. Be quick to respond before your competition does. Sometimes, responsiveness alone will be the deciding factor in awarding you the project.
Connect how the client wants to connect:
If a prospective client wishes to discuss the project in greater detail, find out how they would like to communicate. Some will want to talk on phone, others through the freelance website, while many will choose to have a Skype call. Do not turn down the method that they offer. If they want to Skype, use Skype. If they want to talk on the phone, have a quick call. Clients will see that you are flexible and willing to meet their needs in order to get the project going. This will often seal the deal for you to win the project.