Big “Game” Hunting: A Guide for Freelancers

3. February 2016 08:15

folks on a safari

A freelancer's life may seem like a charmed one. You call the shots, do work you're good at, and make a living.

But it's not all poolside calls with clients. You're up against tight deadlines, a moving target of desired skills from job to job, and the constant need for more clients.

If you play your cards right, you can attract the big clients that help keep your business booming. The first step? Remember that larger clients almost universally want to see proof of business insurance, which is one way a business can demonstrate its viability when it’s just starting out.

Once you're covered, follow these expert tips to help you attract and sell big clients on your freelance services.

1. Automate Your Search

Scouring every freelancer site for possible gigs has probably become second nature at this point, but you can save time by having relevant opportunities sent directly to you. Digital marketing strategist and entrepreneur Brad Hines (@BradHines) suggests you "create an IFTTT recipe with your respective keywords so you get an email when a job comes up."

Not a tech-savvy person? Here's the translation: automation company IFTTT (@IFTTT) lets you connect digital channels (e.g., Craigslist and Gmail). Specify which Craigslist job keywords you usually search for and IFTTT will automatically send the job listing to your inbox. Check out Hines' YouTube tutorial for more details.

How this helps the hunt: Hines says this trick has two major benefits:

  1. You don't waste time searching individual sites for job listings.
  2. You're the first to know about a new listing, which improves your chances of responding first and getting hired.

You can use this hack for most job listing sites, but Hines says you might be surprised how many reputable businesses with considerable budgets place ads for freelancers on Craigslist.

2. Understand Your Audience and Be Patient

If you want to land the big-time clients, you have to speak their language. According to Melissa Forziat, founder of Melissa Forziat Events and Marketing (@MForziatEvents), that means consistently demonstrating how your services solve their specific pain points.

That may take some digging. Forziat suggests learning as much as you can about the target and tailoring your message to their problem.

Marketing consultant Tami Brehse (@TamiBrehse) agrees: "People really appreciate when you put in the extra effort to show them how you can help them specifically, rather than just sending some generic proposal or rate sheet."

How this helps the hunt: Big clients may take more nurturing to land the sale.

"Be patient and be prepared to repeat your message over time," Forziat says.

Make sure that message is reflected in all your marketing material – from your emails and website to your social media pages. Once the client trusts you, you may be their go-to solution when they're ready to solve their problem.

3. Spend (a Little) Money to Make Money

Brehse reminds us that if you want to attract bigger clients, it's not a bad idea to invest a little upfront. The good news is you don't have to break the bank to get your name in front of your target market.

"You can get great ROI on a small budget with some targeted Facebook ads," Brehse says. "You can launch a campaign on as little as $3 per day and target it based on job titles, demographics, interests, and more."

How this helps the hunt: It's a quick way to considerably step up your exposure and zero in on your target audience. But before you put down any cash, do your research to make sure you put social media ads on the site your target market most often frequents.

On the prowl for more freelance business tips? Check out these freelancer resources from our friends over at FlexJobs.

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