Unpredictable income is a big worry for 68% of freelancers, while 62% are anxious about finding new clients. With more than half of freelancers harboring the same fear, it’s more important now than ever to establish a client getting system that brings clients to you, consistently.
Nope, you don’t have to have heavy ad budgets or take up projects at low prices to keep the income flow going. We are talking about creating a solid client getting system that attracts your ideal customer profile (ICP) through organic channels and converts them into paid clients. If you’re a new freelancer, this system will provide you with a structured approach to finding clients, and for seasoned solopreneurs, the system will help you fine-tune the strategies you’re already using to acquire leads.
What is A Client Getting System?
A client getting system, based on the customer acquisition funnel, is a framework that outlines the path that prospects follow— from hearing about you for the first time to becoming a loyal client. Typically the system consists of 5 stages: awareness, interest, consideration, conversion, and retention.
5 Stages of An Effective Client Getting System
Let’s take a deep dive into each of the stages and uncover some key tactics and strategies for you to implement.
Stage 1: Awareness
Creating awareness is the stepping stone to building an effective client getting system. Here your only goal is to make potential clients aware of your existence and acquaint them with the services you offer. You can do this in several ways:
Creating a Strong Online Presence
The beauty of living at a time when 5.3 billion people around the world use the internet is that it gives you strong visibility, no matter which part of the world you’re coming from. As a freelancer or an independent professional, you have to leverage this and create a strong online presence. Update your profiles on LinkedIn, X, or any other platform you prefer, add a professional headshot, write a bio that clearly describes what you offer, and showcase your work samples.
Bloom lets you design stunning online portfolios to improve branding and client acquisition success
You’d also want to have a website of your own—nothing fancy, you can easily create one with the templates available in Bloom. Incorporate a clear message about what you do, your portfolio, and a clear call to action, and it’s good to go. Be it the website or the social media profile, make sure your messaging, tone, and brand image remain consistent.
Content Marketing and Social Media Strategies
Write insightful content on your area of expertise and publish regularly on your website and your socials. The content you put out should establish your authority in your particular niche, so brainstorm original ideas that would provide value to your target audience. As for social media platforms like Linkedin or X, you have to devote time to reading the comments on your posts, replying to your audience, and engaging with other posts to solidify your presence.
You never know which prospects have been silently following you, so it’s always a wise move to post thought-provoking and valuable content. It may seem boring, so showing off your personality doesn’t do any harm, rather it makes you appear more authentic.
Networking and Building Relationships
We could use the ‘your network is your net worth’ adage here, but it’s so much more. As a solopreneur, connecting and building a good rapport with people from your industry will open up your horizon, make you better at your job, help you get inbound clients, and might even help you find some long-term work buddies. Show up at events, seminars, workshops, or webinars, and leverage the opportunity to meet your potential clients.
You might also join online and offline networking groups to connect with others like you and learn from their experiences. When it comes to networking and relationship building, don’t shy away from emailing the people you wish to connect with. Enjoyed the blog post a fellow freelancer posted? Drop them an email about how it helped you.
Case Studies and Testimonials
Once you’ve worked with a few clients, document your journey through case studies highlighting how your services can solve real-life business challenges. Ask satisfied clients to provide testimonials, which you can showcase on your website, LinkedIn profile, or in marketing materials.
Stage 2: Interest
As you make your potential customers aware of your presence and your services, it’s time to pique their interest. How can you do this? By providing value, positioning yourself as an authority, and building trust. There could be many others offering similar services—the catch is to engage your audience and make them think that you’re the most viable solution for them. Here’s how you can crack this stage of building your client getting system:
Identifying Your Target Audience
Niche down the audience you wish to target—be as particular as you can. For instance, ‘startup founders’ is generic, while ‘B2B SaaS founders with a marketing budget of at least $20k a month’ is more specific. In your mind, be very clear about your ideal customer profile, what challenges they face, and what solutions they are looking for.
Providing Value through Content
Now, it’s time to create a content calendar and keep making content that speaks and appeals to your targeted client base. Share your expertise, unique insights, and solutions to their pain points through short and long-form content across your website, socials, and newsletters. Creating value-packed ebooks and templates will also help you fetch the email addresses of your audience, something that comes in handy in email marketing campaigns.
Email Marketing and Newsletters
Handle the client acquisition process with Blooms automations
At this stage of the client acquisition funnel, your focus is on keeping the prospect interested in your service offerings. Only blog posts and social media content might not cut it—you need to land on your prospect’s inbox. A boring, salesy email will only push them to hit the ‘unsubscribe’ button, so implement a thoughtful email marketing strategy. Email marketing drives an ROI of $36 for every dollar spent, so why not leverage this channel more? Let’s say you solved a critical problem for one of your clients recently, you can use your newsletter to share your learnings. Make optimum use of automation tools to ensure the right email reaches the right customer segment, nurturing their interests.
Webinars and Workshops
Diversify your content channels—put yourself out there, and host webinars, podcasts, and workshops in your area of expertise. These interactive sessions will help establish your authority and at the same time help you connect with your audience. To increase the visibility of these efforts, promote them extensively through your online channels and you’ll have a higher chance of attracting a wider audience.
Stage 3: Consideration
Now the prospect has entered deep into your client acquisition system—they are no longer just interested in your services, but they are actively considering hiring you for your services (for instance, let’s say they have already booked a discovery call with you). This is a crucial juncture where you have to help the client make an informed decision about why they should choose you. Here’s how you can navigate this stage:
Customizing Services to Client Needs
This is the time to have a one-on-one discussion with your prospect so you get a better understanding of their pain points and their expectations from your services. Once you have all the information, you have to tailor your solutions to meet the specific needs of your prospect. When sending out a proposal, make sure it outlines how your services will add value to their business and resolve the specific challenges they are facing.
Transparent Pricing and Proposals
Your proposal should include your pricing structure and the deliverables. It should highlight the value you’re bringing to the table, and also provide a clear idea about what the client can expect out of this investment. It’s necessary to be completely transparent to avoid any misunderstandings in the future. To establish credibility, feel free to add testimonials from leaders in relevant industries or case studies, if you have them.
Handling Objections and Questions
After sending out the proposal, be ready to address potential queries and objections the client might have. You have to be persuasive in your response, convincing the client of your skills to address their concerns and showcasing your commitment towards their success.
Stage 4: Conversion
This is the stage where the client decides to work with you—a key moment in your client getting system when the prospect becomes a paying client. To run a successful business, you should always be on the lookout to increase your conversion rates. Here are a few tips to ace conversion:
Negotiation and Closing Deals
The client might want to negotiate the charges or the deliverables before sealing the deal. As a freelancer, you have to be quite tactical at this point. Take a deep look into your pricing, see where you can afford to be flexible, and deliver a counter-offer. To close deals faster, you could create a sense of urgency (e.g. limited-period discounts, offering additional deliverables at the same price, free templates, etc.), pushing the prospect to make a prompt decision.
Contract Agreements and Invoicing
Branding and a congruent brand experience increases client loyalty and improves revenue
Always make it a point to have a signed contract in place before starting with a new project, as it offers legal protection for both the parties. As for payments, use an efficient tool like Bloom’s free invoice generator to create professional-looking invoices and a freelancer invoicing software to ensure clients can make payments from anywhere in the world, in a mode that’s convenient to them.
Onboarding and Setting Expectations
This is your chance to create a solid first impression after closing a client. A structured onboarding process will help you set the expectations for timelines, deliverables, and communication to avoid scope creep and potential conflicts in the future.
Stage 5: Retention
Here’s the stage where the magic happens. You have successfully converted your prospect into a paying client, and now your goal is to keep them coming back to you. During this stage, your focus has to be on nurturing existing client relationships. Happy clients turn into loyal clients, become your brand advocates, and provide you with a steady flow of income. Here’s how you can foster long-term relationships with clients:
Keep Up the Good Work
You can turn a client into a retainer by delivering stellar work, sticking to the deadlines, bringing in the desired results, and providing a convenient customer experience throughout. Be open and transparent in your communication, and check in with them regularly to provide updates on the progress and to make sure they are happy with the deliverables. In case any issues come up, address them immediately.
Upselling and Cross-Selling Opportunities
As you progress with the project, you might come across some areas of the business that need improvement, where you could help them out. Pitch your ideas to the client as a complimentary service, or offer package deals for bundled services, encouraging the client to explore more of what you have to offer.
Asking for Referrals and Reviews
Did you know that 91% of freelancers find clients through referrals or word of mouth? When a client is happy with your work, they will be more than happy to refer you to their network. So don’t hesitate to ask for referrals—it’s a powerful way to acquire new clients. Ask the client to leave a testimonial for your website and socials, which will help you build credibility and authority.
Measuring and Improving
Building an effective client getting system is a journey in motion—you have to measure the performance of your efforts, make data-driven decisions, and evolve your strategies, processes and approaches accordingly. This stage is about prioritizing consistent growth and learning from the experiences along the way. Here’s how you can crack this stage like a pro:
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Some common KPIs would be conversion rate, client acquisition cost, client lifetime value, churn rate, website traffic through social media campaigns, and funnel drop-off rates, to mention a few. Set benchmarks you want to achieve with your KPIs and assess your performance against them regularly to see how you’re performing, which areas are doing well, and which ones need more attention.
Tools for Tracking Progress
Make the most of data analytics tools and customer relationship management (CRM) software to collect and analyze data on client interactions, website traffic, email campaigns, and social media campaigns. Monitor website analytics, social media insights, and email open and click-through rates to understand how potential clients engage with your content.
Continuous Learning and Adaptation
You could be a freelancer in any industry, there is no alternative to learning, upskilling, and adapting with changing times and technologies. Stay on top of evolving industry trends and invest in professional development to hone your skills to scale your freelancing career to the next level.
While constantly monitoring and refining your client getting system can feel tedious, it can bring you extraordinary results. Remember that building a system that works for you takes time, patience, perseverance, and lots of trial and error. Following the stages we outlined above will give you a headstart to building an effective client acquisition funnel, one that will bring you new business consistently, and help avoid the dreaded dry months.
From lead gen, marketing, project management, to customer service, as a solopreneur, you have to handle every department by yourself. When you’re building a powerful system to attract more clients, you’ll likely get busy with tons of projects coming your way. Bloom is here to make life easier for you. It’s your personal CRM where you can track client communication, projects, client information, create portfolio, manage workflows, and automate follow up campaigns, all within a single platform. Get started with Bloom for free!