If you’re a freelancer, here’s how to keep the pipeline flowing.
By: Lesley Spencer Pyle 08/30/2009 Shared from Women Entrepreneur
Whether you’ve been a freelancer for years or are just getting started, you need clients. Even if you have enough work now, create a plan to find additional clients. If you wait until you are out of work (and money), you create additional stress for yourself. Dedicate at least half a day per week to locating new clients, and use some or all of the following tips to do so.
1.) Build your network. Online networking is beneficial to entrepreneurs and freelancers alike. Most freelance work is channeled through current or extended networks. Think about whom you have in your network: You might be surprised at how many people you could contact who may have an interest in what you do, if not for themselves, for someone else in their network. You should, of course, be part of several social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Ning. They all offer potential opportunities to expand your network and get more clients.
2.) Be visible. There are exhibitions, conferences, magazines and online forums attached to most professions, including yours. Be active. Contribute regularly. Make use of profiles and signature lines to include links to your freelance resume and portfolio so a potential client can easily look at your work samples and be able to contact you . Professional associations usually have job postings for their members. Consider searching for a professional association in your discipline; the Internet Public Library has a list of associations and their websites, organized by discipline.
3.) Stay in contact with clients. Keep in touch with your clients. Satisfied clients will likely refer you to their friends and colleagues for future work. Plus, keeping in touch with old clients can lead to additional work down the road.
4.) Check out job sites. Job-posting sites for freelance work mostly fall into three categories: job-bidding sites, resume-posting sites and job-listing sites. Hiremymom.com, getafreelancer.com, craigslist.org or oodle.com are often good sources for freelance postings. Be aware that job bidding sites such as eLance often favor overseas freelancers who work inexpensively.
5.) Find people who need you. If you write web content, optimize content for SEO or design sites, search the web. Start with an industry you have experience with and look at different web pages. If you’re a web designer, for example, you may want to look for sites that could use improvement in design and accessibility. Is it obvious that the writing needs work or that the web design is shoddy? Send the company a personal e-mail. Explain the weaknesses you see (be nice; the boss could have created the site) and describe how you can help to increase the company’s profits.
6.) Optimize your own website. You can optimize your site for when you get visitors. Businesses find you through search engine results, so it pays to have an optimized website that ranks well in search engines. Sell yourself; your products and services, credentials, experience, links to your work and testimonies are all important features. Don’t forget to offer several different ways to contact you.
Lesley Spencer Pyle is the founder and president of HomeBasedWorkingMoms.com and HireMyMom.com and the author of The Work-at-Home Workbook: Your Step-by-Step Guide on Selecting and Starting the Perfect Home Business for You. Pyle has been working from home for more than 13 years.