As an independent contractor, the last thing you want to do is to sit around and twiddle your thumbs while you wait for new leads to fall into your lap.
It just doesn’t work like that. Freelancers and contract workers have to work diligently to market themselves and get gigs.
Lucky for you, there are plenty of tried-and-true methods for getting more contract work. Plus, there are plenty of techniques, so you have the freedom to choose what works best for you!
1. Strive To Keep Your Clients
Strive to Keep Your Clients
As much as you might want a larger client base, a lot of your contract work will come from repeat clients. That means you need to keep your current relationships strong.
The best way to do this is by maintaining constant contact with your customers. Even if you complete a one-month contract for someone, you should stay in touch after the project.
The goal here is to stay top of mind. You should be the first person your client thinks of when they need someone with your skillset.
Now that you’ve got your business off the ground, it just isn’t realistic to call all of your clients every week. They probably won’t appreciate you calling that often, either.
So, what’s the best way to keep in touch?
A solid Customer Relationship Management app.
CRM software helps you keep track of your projects and client contact info. The best CRMs also offer chat and email features, so you can keep all of your correspondences in one place.
By adding your clients’ email addresses to a drip campaign, you can send them emails directly through the app.
And here’s the best part:
It’s completely automated.
That means you can spend less time making phone calls and sending emails.
Without a strong CRM program in your stack, keeping in touch with clients can become a full-time job in itself. And as a busy freelancer, you just don’t have time for that.
This is the best way to ensure that your clients keep your name in mind for future opportunities.
Download our all-in-one CRM app on iTunes!
2. Get Referrals from Previous Clients
You’re great at your job. That’s why you’ve built up a steady client base and have a stream of leads coming down the funnel.
But, did you know that the best business people don’t have to go out looking for leads?
Most of their business comes from customer referrals.
How to Get Referrals
To earn referrals, you need to set yourself apart from others in your field.
Why should a person tell their friends and family to hire you for contract jobs?
This is where frequent communication really comes in handy. By continuously reaching out to your previous clients, even just to ask how they’re doing, you’ll show them that you’re a good person and genuinely care about their needs.
They’ll be much more willing to recommend you if they like and trust you.
3. Get Your Name Out There
Freelancing is a lot different than traditional full-time work.
You don’t get health insurance. You have to pay self-employment taxes. And you often have to perform several job roles at once.
And one of those roles is marketing. If you want to score contract positions, it’s up to you to advertise your services.
So, you need to get your name out there. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do that:
Best Ways to Advertise as a Freelancer
There are only so many hours in a day. Making cold calls and going door-to-door might not be the best use of your time.
Here are some ways to market more effectively:
Write About Your Industry
Blogging about your industry allows you to grow your audience and establish yourself as an authority in your field.
Plus, it’s a great way to boost your website’s SEO ranking so it shows up in Google search results!
Attend Local Meetups
Sometimes, face-to-face conversations are the best way to build relationships.
By attending meetups at your local Chamber of Commerce, you can meet business owners in your area and generate new leads.
Even if the folks at the meetup don’t need your services, they might know someone else who does.
Send Direct Mail Ads
It may seem outdated, but direct mail can still help you find new customers. If someone is looking for your type of service already, your ad may catch their eye.
And, it can help you market to those folks who aren’t online or don’t use the internet very often.
Stay organized! Try Bloom for free!
4. Send Potential Clients Something Useful
You can call and email potential clients all you want. Yet, there’s a pretty good chance they might not be in the mood to take calls or read a 1,000-word email.
The trick is to find a way to stay in your clients’ minds without forcing yourself into their lives.
Maintaining Your Presence
Let’s be honest:
Your ideal client already gets 20 advertisements in the mail every day. Chances are, they stand over the recycling bin in the garage and throw all the advertisements away one by one.
That means you have to give them something that they won’t just throw away. Something they can use.
Choose a product that your clients will keep around the house.
- Calendar magnets
- Recipe cards
These are useful items, so your clients will be more likely to keep them.
With a branded calendar on their fridge, your potential clients will have your contact info ready if they ever need your services.
Tip: The items you send out should reflect your brand. If you’re an artist or photographer, for example, you might send out a frame-worthy postcard with a picture of your best work on the front.
5. Talk to People
A lot of your business will come from the people you know. But at the same time, you never know who you might run into.
There could be someone in your yoga class who needs your skills!
Everywhere you go, be prepared to hype up your own business.
Always Be Ready to Talk About Your Work
You shouldn’t start every conversation by talking about your business. It can be a little overwhelming and off-putting to some people.
But, you should be prepared to talk about it when asked. If someone at a party asks what you do, you should be able to give them the rundown.
Let them know:
- What you do
- Why you stand out from competitors
- That you’re seeking new clients
Again, always have your business card on hand. This is the quickest way to get your contact info into the pocket of somebody who might need your services!
Learn how to improve your interaction with clients. Check out: Client Interfacing: 10 Keys to Effective Communication with Freelance Clients.
6. Offer Incentives
Everybody loves a good deal.
It’s a good idea to run a promotion every now and then to attract new clients.
Promotion Ideas for Freelancers
The types of incentives you offer will depend on your field of work.
Here are some examples:
- Discounted rates for first-time clients
- Loyalty programs for repeat customers
- Seasonal promotions (especially during times when work might be slow)
- Referral programs where you reward clients for referring their friends
Know Your Limits
Don’t let your clients get too used to discounted rates and services.
As much as you want more business, offering too many freebies can undervalue your work. You should use incentives to generate interest in your business, not to keep it.
Make it clear to clients and potential clients that your discounted rates are simply promotions. Set clear start and end dates and stick to them.
Otherwise, you might lose more money than you take in!
Streamline your processes: Your Complete Guide to Freelance Project Management
7. Build Partnerships
You may be in competition with others who work in your field, but you’re not competing with people from other fields. In fact, people working in other industries can be your best friends when it comes to gaining new clients.
Here’s what I mean:
Let’s say you’re a photographer. You specialize in taking photos of homes, structures, and architecture.
Then, you meet a real estate agent at a local meetup.
This is the perfect opportunity to build a partnership. Whenever you meet someone who wants to buy a house, you can send them to your partner. In return, your partner can send their clients to you to photograph their new home.
It’s a win-win for both of you!
Why Partnerships Matter
On top of bringing in more business, partnerships can help you establish yourself as a trusted professional.
They help you leverage the trust that your partners have already developed with their own clients.
If a person trusts your partner, they’ll take their recommendations seriously.
Ultimately, the goal here is to be somebody else’s go-to person for a particular product or service.
8. Be Active on Social Media
Social media is a great way to find cat videos and stay updated with people from high school.
But, it’s also one of the most effective ways to generate business in this day and age.
It can be, that is, if you’re doing it right.
The Basics of Social Media
It’s time to make a business page on every social media platform. This will allow you to build a following around your brand and gauge how much interest there is in your business.
Once you have your social media pages up and running, it’s important to develop a relationship with your followers.
- Following others back
- Commenting and liking their posts
- Replying when your clients reach out to you
- Posting content every week
And don’t make all of your posts advertisements!
Though you want more business, posting strictly about your services can get a little repetitive. If your Instagram feed looks more like a spam email than a photo gallery, you’ll lose potential clients.
It’s okay to promote yourself, but you should also post about other things. Promote other people, link to valuable articles or podcasts, and post pics from your workday.
The more authentic your online presence is, the quicker you’ll build a following.
9. List Your Business on Local Job Boards
You can’t call everyone in a 10-mile radius or knock on every door in town.
But you can use local job boards to put your name out there.
The Benefits of Local Job Boards
Local job boards are one of the best ways to target people you know are looking for your services.
Let’s say you’re a videographer, for example.
A person looking to hire a videographer can head to the job board to find a local pro. They’ll come across your name, learn about your services, and give you a call.
Congrats, you have a potential client!
Casting a More Concentrated Net
Many contract workers assume that casting the widest net is the best way to get clients. But you can waste a lot of time marketing to people who don’t need your services.
With job boards, you can be sure that anybody who comes across your ad or profile is looking for a professional in your field.
Think of it this way:
It’s better to get ten views from ten people who are interested in your business than fifty views from people who may not be.
There are plenty of ways to get more work as a contract employee.
What you need to remember is that a lot of it comes down to how you portray yourself. You want others to view you as a trusted expert in your field.
The most important thing you can do is get your name out there. If you can establish yourself as the go-to person for a specific service, your contract-to-hire business will flourish!
Learn more about how Bloom can help you stay in touch with customers!