You Probably Already Do Know Your Very Next Client

next-clientA common freelancing stereotype is that a freelancer never knows where or when his or her next job is coming from–or from whom. For most of us, though, this stereotype is only partially true.

Odds are that your next client is hidden somewhere among your Twitter (or other social media) followers, your previous clients, or your friends and acquaintances.

Time after time, whenever we’ve asked freelancers where they find clients and they give us the same two answers: through referrals and repeat business. Those answers don’t surprise me at all because that is where most of my own clients come from.

In this post, we’ll give you some tips to help nudge some of your future clients (that you already know) towards doing business with you.


6 Quick Tips to Get More Work from Your Contacts

Most of these tips are simple and easy to implement. Some of them are so simple that after you read this you’ll probably be kicking yourself and saying “why didn’t I think of that already?”

Don’t worry, in the past I’ve missed some of these tips too.

  1. Make sure your social media bio profile includes your profession. Whenever I see a social media comment from someone whose name I don’t recognize I always click through to view their profile. It amazes me how many profiles tell me very little about the commenter. For example, a bio that says “loves comics, chocolate, and candy” tells me nothing. In contrast, a bio that says “a web designer who loves comics, chocolate, and candy” retains the fun element while letting me know that the commenter is a web designer.
  2. Make sure that all of your social media profiles include a way to learn more about you (usually a link to your business website). It’s no good if they know that you are a writer, developer, designer, etc.–but have no way to follow up and find your portfolio or website. Even an abandoned social media profile could possibly yield a client.
  3. When you tweet or update your status, occasionally include a description of what you are working on. Not everyone will click through to view your profile. That’s why it’s important to describe what you actually do to your social media friends once in a while. Tweeting or writing in your status about the coffee you need to get started each will probably get you some sympathetic chuckles. Tweeting something about how good you feel after just finishing a web design reminds your social media contacts what it is that you do for a living.
  4. Pay attention to what others are saying in social media. I really mean it. I recently got a writing gig because I noticed that someone who I was following tweeted that they needed a writer. While one might argue that was an isolated case of being in the right place at the right time, I’ve seen statuses and tweets listing project work more than once. People really do talk about their project needs on social media (if you’re following the right people).
  5. Keep an updated list of past and current clients. Make the extra effort to stay in touch with them without overwhelming them with communications. Most clients don’t mind if you check in occasionally to see how things are going.
  6. Have a limited time sale. If things are going slow for you, why not do what the big names do? Offer a special deal. Tweeting or posting your discount in your status could be just what it takes to motivate someone to hire you now. Everyone loves a good bargain, and that includes your potential clients.

While these tips are easy, they should be used carefully. Don’t overdo it!

Why You Shouldn’t Overdo

So, the tips in the previous section are so easy that you’re going to make sure that you do all of them several times a day. Your workload should immediately go up, right?

Wrong!

The tips are simple, but if you overdo it on tips three through five–you may be taken for a spammer or perhaps others will simply look upon you as being boring. The key is to combine personality and professionalism, and that can be a delicate balance.

Tweeting about your work, for example, should probably only be done about once a day.

Relationships Still Count

At the core of every project is a client relationship. At the core of every relationship is trust.

None of these tips will work very well if your relationships with your current clients and your social media followers are damaged or weak. This is yet another reason why online reputation management is still important.

What Do You Think?

Does most of your project work come from repeat clients and referrals? What tips do you have to motivate those you know to use your professional freelance services?

Share your answers in the comments.

Image by moogan