When I first started freelancing, I didn’t have a plan or defined process for landing client projects.
Instead, I just tried to make it clear what the client would get for their money, and how I was qualified to help them achieve their goals.
How do you think it worked?
As you can imagine, projects were hit or miss at best.
Most times, I felt like the leads I did get just fell through the cracks.
Sure, clients reached out, but very few of them converted.
I had occasional jobs, but nothing solid or ongoing.
Because of this, I started to doubt my ability as a freelancer.
Worst of all…
I began to lose sight of why I started freelancing in the first place.
After all, if I couldn’t land a project, I wouldn’t be able to get paid.
If I wasn’t getting paid, then I wasn’t going to make ends meet. My self-pity led to doubt.
This made it hard to close clients, which led to more self-pity.
It was a vicious cycle.
If I was going to make it out, I had to put an end to those negative vibes and reevaluate my process of landing project leads – both for my own sanity and for my business.
After all, there was no way I was going to meet my goals if I was stressed all the time. It was time to develop a process for landing more client projects.
Why, you ask?
Having a process focuses you. It also gives you the confidence you need to push through the hard times.
Today, I’m here to share with you the exact process I use to land more client projects and create long-term work for myself.
Let’s get started.
Establishing a Sales Process
If you’ve ever worked in sales, you know the key to success is “closing.”
If you’ve ever worked in high-level or professional sales, you know the key to this is being personable. It means creating a connection with your clients and putting your heart into what you’re doing.
There’s another layer, though:
Great salespeople operate on a system.
Yes, they personalize their “moves” according to the clients they’re working with, but they also check a series of boxes as they walk through the relationship.
- Establish trust
- Demonstrate the value of the product
- Create a rapport
- Address potential client concerns
If you want to create a plan for your freelance business, you’ll need to do the same thing.
If a customer is going to walk through your metaphorical doors ready to spend their money, it’s essential that you be there to educate them on what they need and convince them that you’re the right person to spend it with.
In your freelance business, it’s up to you to figure out how to educate the client about the value you offer.
After all, you’re the “product” they’re ready to spend their money on.
Here are some fast facts to do it:
- Before providing a price, uncover the client’s needs
- Let them know how your services can make their business more profitable or productive
- Identify a few recurring client concerns (cost, effectiveness, etc.) associated with your business, and find a way to address them before the client has a chance to dwell on them
This approach should always be highly personalized and unique.
That’s how the best salespeople meet their multi-million dollar goals – they remember the client’s name, what his wife does, and where he golfed last Saturday.
Position yourself as an investment right from the start.
Not only will the client be more likely to pay what you’re worth, but you’ll be more likely to land that sale.
My Process for Landing Client Projects
Right from the start, I ask the client to do something for me…
I have them fill out one of the project forms on my contact page if they haven’t already done so.
I do this for several reasons:
- It lets me know they’re serious. If the client can’t take the time to fill out the project form, this raises a red flag. I don’t want to work with someone who isn’t interested in their own project.
- It helps me help them. My project brief asks questions meant to supply me with the “must have” information I need to start a project. From there, I can evaluate them and their needs.
- It allows me to start building a client file. Once the client fills out the form, I file the brief where I can reference it at any time. As I complete more work with the client, I’ll add additional information to this file.
The content brief also helps me learn more about the project and decide whether or not I even want to take it on.
If the answer is yes, I respond to the client. In this response, I….
- Give the client an idea of how I work
- Tell them what they can expect from my services
- Detail my process and lay out how each step will play out, including when they’ll pay, what I’ll need and when, etc.
Here’s an exact example of how I responded to a recent project inquiry….
The first contact I made with this client was through my project form. I reviewed their submission and was interested in working with them. Here’s how I responded:
Thank you for taking the time to fill out my project form! I’d love to work with you on this project.
After reviewing your information, I have a pretty good understanding of what you’re looking for. With that in mind, let me explain my process and the steps I’d like to take in developing your new logo:
- First, I have my clients complete a project brief (check!)
- Project approval: budget and contract agreement (next step)
- 50% Downpayment to begin the project
- Initial draft submission – two free rounds of revisions
- Final approval, then final payment
- Project delivered
If you have any questions or concerns about the process, please feel free to ask. I look forward to your response.
A Note on Pricing
One of the hardest things about landing a new client job is figuring out how to price your projects.
When it comes time to talk pricing, fear can cause you to undervalue yourself, especially when you’re just getting started.
A word to the wise, though: don’t let it!
You’re only cheating yourself out success if you do.
If you’ve done your job educating the client, they should see the value in your services and they’ll gladly pay for them if they’re able.
If they’re not, the project just wasn’t meant to be.
Remember: you’re not a commodity:
You’re the solution to a client’s problems.
If you want to appeal to clients with a wider price range, try providing a few different packages at various price points. Create different prices by adding or removing services.
You can do X with their budget, but if they find the value in Y, the price changes.
Doing this gives the client more flexibility and makes it easier for them to come work with you.
Why Having a Process Matters
With the help of this process, I get briefs, signed contracts, and down payments – all in the first day of my interactions with the lead.
To break it down for you, here’s a summary of the process I use. Adapt it to your business and clients for best results.
- Place your focus on relationships. Understand the client, their background, their business, and their needs before proceeding. Make it personal.
- Educate the client. Your first email response after the brief should educate the client on the value you offer and your process. This helps them make informed decisions. Be sure to answer any questions or concerns they have about your process (if needed).
- Provide a price or package estimate. Base the price on their needs, your time, and your value. If needed, be flexible with the budget – within reason.
- Get a contract signed. Your next step is to invoice for a down payment and have the client sign your freelancer contract.
- Start the project!
Don’t forget to leave some room for flexibility.
Your process for handling leads should evolve as you learn what works best for you and as you discover the gaps in your current process.
I hope by seeing my process, you can gain some insight and use it to land more client projects in your own business!