There comes a time in every freelancer’s career where you might decide that you need to expand your clientele or services, while still staying a one-person business. While I believing that niching yourself into a certain type of client, industry or service can greatly improve your clientele and revenue; it’s also important to make use of those “confused clients”.
Who are these confused clients? If you’re a freelance designer or developer, you probably come across these every day. These are the clients who don’t understand much about the web or the services you offer, so they send you requests for services you don’t offer.
For example, I’m a web developer who specifically states on my website that I offer CSS, XHTML and WordPress development. I don’t offer any design services and there’s nowhere on my entire site, except for a couple of blog articles, that mentions design. However, I get at least two requests a day from potential clients that ask me for design services.
What Do We Do with These Clients?
I used to get somewhat upset by those confused potential clients, because it seemed like they didn’t even take the time to look or read anything on my portfolio. I believe, however, that it’s just a misunderstanding as most people don’t understand the difference between design and development.
I used to politely reply to these requests that I was sorry, but I didn’t offer those services, only development. The clients would then thank me and disappear–and I would never hear from them again.
I quickly realized that I was losing tons of potential business by doing this. After all, if they need a web designer, then they’re going to need a developer soon after.
While I’ve never wanted to design or offer those services, I decided that I could benefit by teaming up with some other talented freelancers and send those clients their way. By doing this, I would still get to develop their site, therefore helping my client and another freelancer, while benefitting myself.
I did some research and teamed up with three different designers in different budget ranges and with different skills. Now, each request I get for design work goes to one of them, or all of them if I’m unsure of their needs and budget, and the client then comes back to me to develop what the freelancer designed. It’s a win-win scenario for all of us.
Finding Who to Partner With
Finding another good freelancer to partner with can be both tricky and scary. It’s tough to depend on someone else with your reputation.
If you’re looking for someone to pass your work on to:
- Thoroughly check out their portfolio and make sure they have the work to back up what they say.
- Have several chats with them on both business and non-business topics. While you don’t have to be best friends, getting along well makes things much smoother.
- Check out their references and past clients. Were they happy with the work and service they got?
- Pass a small job on to them first to see how well they do.
- Have the client pay the freelancer separately from you. This means the contracts stay separate in case there’s a disagreement or fallout.
If you’re looking for work from other freelancers:
- Freelancers aren’t like agencies, who tend to have plenty of overflow work and welcome cold emails from others asking for work. Only offer your services to other freelancers who are actively asking for someone to partner with. Otherwise, the email just annoys the freelancers and gets trashed, wasting your time.
- Send them your best work and plenty of testimonials. Treat them like you’re applying for a huge job or bidding on a big project. Be professional.
- Realize that their work and referrals may be few and far between, but try to make yourself available when they do need you, to ensure they don’t find someone else.
How to Work with Others
Even as a freelancer, we can benefit by working with others. However, there are several things to keep in mind.
- What is the freelancer’s skill set? Does it fit what the client needs?
- Can you trust them to treat the client well? It’s your reputation on the line if you referred the client to them.
- What are their payment terms? Don’t forget to modify your contract to accommodate them, if you’re managing the project by yourself.
- Don’t forget to ask them about their availability before you give the client a set schedule.
- Explain clearly to the client that you’ll be using another freelancer for part of the project.
If the request is something completely outside of what you do and there’s nothing in the project for your services, pass them on to your freelance partners anyway. That way, they’ll think about you first when deciding who to send their own confused clients to!
Work Well and Share!
Working together can be a great way to expand your services and clientele. It’s also a way to ensure some repeat work, as well as gain some professional relationships.
Do you work well with other freelancers? What are your tips for keeping a good relationship?
Image by eschipul