Email inbox empty? Phone not ringing? All freelancers go through periods where work seems slower and hard to come by. It can be a worrying and frustrating time, particularly if you’re all set up and raring to go. With everyone experiencing big hikes in the cost of living from rising fuel and energy bills and the price of food, it’s more important than ever that freelancers can keep work coming in. Luckily, we here at Dinghy have a few tricks you can try to generate new leads. Increasing the amount of enquiries you have coming in for your freelance services should ultimately lead to more work, and give you that security and peace of mind. Here are a few things freelancers can try – today – to hook new clients in.
1. Build a social media following
So much of business today is carried out remotely, and social media can be a really powerful “shop window” for your freelancing business. It allows you to have a global reach and build a strong brand. On most social media platforms you can build a profile and post content for free, even as a business account, so it’s a relatively low-cost form of marketing – the only investment is your time. However, it’s also sometimes difficult to know where to start with social media, or how to get the most out of it – which is why we put together a guide to help freelancers build a social media following.
2. Get yourself a website
Websites are pretty much a basic requirement for any freelancer offering their services today. A website is there to advertise yourself and your services to potential clients, offer a conduit for enquiries and give some background as to your skills, qualifications and experience. If potential clients come to you via a referral, one of the first things they will do before contacting you will be to search for you. If no website comes up, this might leave them questioning your professionalism, confused about how to contact you or with no way to confirm your expertise. Even if they’ve been given a glowing recommendation, it might make them pause and go elsewhere.
A website doesn’t necessarily need to be complex or a huge project. You can start with just a landing page and a contact page, and build it up from there. There are lots of easy-to-use website building tools that are just perfect for freelance businesses – no matter what your level of expertise in web design! We’ve put together a list of some of our favourites here on the Dinghy blog.
3. Review your rates – are they fair?
Before you set about generating lots of new leads into your business, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re not going to put clients off at the negotiation stage with rates that don’t match your experience. We always believe that freelancers deserve fair payment for their work, and your rate should take into account your time, qualifications, skills and experience, as well as all the extras that come with running a small business. However, we also know that setting your rates can be a tricky business: too high and the client might be inclined to go with someone cheaper; too low and it makes it seem like you don’t know what you’re doing. For some tips on how to charge a fair price for your services that keeps both you and the client happy, take a look at this blog.
4. Try to win back old clients
Don’t be so busy chasing shiny new clients that you forget to look after people and businesses that you’ve worked with before. It’s far easier to try to secure new work off an old or existing client than it is to go through the whole negotiation process with somebody new. Our advice when work seems to slow down is always to get back in touch with old clients that have gone quiet. Just a gentle nudge via email to let them know you have availability or a quick phone call to see if there’s anything coming up that you could help them with is usually enough – sometimes your message will come just at the right time. If not now, it keeps you fresh in their minds so that when a suitable project does come up, you’ll be the first person they call. We’ve got a blog that’s full of tips on how to win back old clients.
5. Consider specialising to target a niche area
If you’re making lots of effort to generate leads and no enquiries are coming in, perhaps your approach isn’t targeted enough and you are marketing yourself as too much of a generalist. Often, clients are looking for someone with a working understanding of their sector who won’t take too much time getting up to speed, or are after someone who can bring a specific skill set. Specialising as a freelancer can help you target specific sectors where you have the most knowledge and experience to offer, building you a reputation as an expert in a particular field – and hopefully ultimately leading to your services being more in-demand. If you think specialising might be for you, take a look at our detailed blog on the subject.
6. Ask for testimonials
One of the most powerful selling tools for a freelancer can be the genuine reviews and feedback that come from previous clients. You could have the flashiest website and the most active social media presence, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing quite as impactful as the testimonial of a happy customer. Getting in touch with existing and previous clients to ask for a review of your services can help you collect quotes to share on your website, LinkedIn profile or other social media. Even reaching out to collect a review can act as an important prompt as to how great you are to work with and how high quality your work is – which might encourage old clients to use your services again.
7. Set up a recommendation scheme
Clients that come to you through word-of-mouth recommendations are absolutely the best kind of leads you can generate – zero effort on your part, they’ve already been told how wonderful you are, and they should already have an idea of your experience level and skills from your other client, which might make negotiations easier. One way in which you can encourage this type of referral is to set up your own recommendation scheme – where you offer a gift or discount as a thank you to clients who send new business your way.
While we’re on the subject of referrals – did you know Dinghy has its own refer-a-friend scheme to give our loyal customers a treat? If you refer a fellow freelancer to Dinghy, you both get a £25 Vex e-Gift Card, which can be redeemed with over 150 brands. With our flexible, billed-by-the-minute cover, tailored packages where you get exactly the cover that you need, and our unique Freelancer Assist invoice-chasing service, it shouldn’t be too much of a hard sell. To refer your freelancing friends, simply log in to your online account and you can access your unique referral link.