9 Great Freelancing Business Tips to Grow Your Business
Today there are a lot of people competing for freelance business, so how do you stand out? It will take a lot of effort, commitment and determination and after that more of the same.
Here are some tips that should help you get on the right path to freelancing success:
1. Create the Portfolio
This is the most important part of your design business. It shows the type of work you do and gives the client the information to decide if you can do the work they require. The client presentation is very important.
So what do you need to do?
A. Make it clean and simple. Don’t use a lot of flash because it takes time to load and some devices don’t play flash.
B. Use a gallery style. There are many free WordPress templates that are made for portfolios.
C. Keep it updated. This is not always as simple as it sounds. You may have done some great work for a client a few years ago. That’s OK as long as there are no dates on the work.
D. A creative brief with each item helps tell the story about the project and how it got to the end.
Physical portfolios are not as popular as digital ones, but keep a physical one handy in case you meet a non-digital type of potential client. 10-15 pieces would be the best and about 15 minutes to review it will work out better for the client.
A digital portfolio can be used if the screen is large enough for potential client to see the work. If not, sue the computer or give then a link to the portfolio on-line.
2. Your Response(s)
This is crucial in getting the projects and keeping the clients. You must respond immediately or within a day to any questions or requests from clients or (and especially) potential clients.
Responding quickly will show your desire to have a great working relationship and that you really care about the client’s needs. Many businesses don’t respond, so the list of clients of available clients is probably growing. Get moving, so you don’t lose any potential clients.
Also, your responses should be detailed, so that no question is unanswered and that the client fully understands the answers.
No matter what you are doing (outside of being completely incapacitated) you must respond with some message. For example: “Hi —-, I am currently in a meeting, but will call you back around -:– pm today. Does that work with your schedule?”
A simple response helps keep the client relaxed and happy to know you feel they are very important to take time from your meeting to respond. And if you are out at the store tell the client you are with “another client or in a meeting”. Never tell them you are not working on their project.
Following up on questions or issues is important to keeping the workflow moving. OK. You contacted the client and now are working on the project. You have told the client you would get back to him with an additional quote or price update. One week later you still have not contacted the client. Two weeks have gone by and still you have not made contact. Why? You forgot? You were too busy? If too busy is the case then you really don’t need that client. In this case the one thing you can be sure of is that the client is probably already looking for a new designer or design team.
4. Make Lists
Lists and/or post-its work best to keep projects moving forward and staying to touch or following up with clients. If you have several projects going at one time start a list so you can look it over and see where things stand at any time. Trying to use your memory may not work and you are probably going to forget something important.
Plus lists will make it easier for you to sleep because you won’t be thinking about what you may have forgotten.
5. Customer Service
Customer service is very important in any business. How do I know? Go to any store with a return or complaint. How are you treated and how long do you have to wait? If you answer is no waiting and I was satisfied then you got some good customer service.
The same goes for any service business. Great customer service keeps the client returning. Of course, that is combined with great design, but you get the idea.
6. Save Money
This is an area where many fall into the “I’ve got to have the newest and best products”. I know, my niece wanted a Wacom Tablet and got one (because I have one and they are the best for doing design work) then she saw the Wacom Cintique and wanted that too. Keep in mind that she is just beginning to learn design software and not yet working in the design field. The Wacom Tablet is approximately $300.00 and the Critique around $2,300.00!
I would like the Cintique also, but feel my tablet is working just fine and I can’t justify the high cost.
For someone not yet sure about the field they want to be in is a real waste of money. My point?
When looking to upgrade see if you can find used equipment. If you need something try not to buy it new unless it is the same price as used or you can get a great deal. Look for government or city auctions where you can find great deals on office equipment. You may be surprised at how inexpensively you can furnish your new office.
You need to be very conscious of the money you spend until you can get the business up and running with a decent profit. Even then try to restrain from the hype and newness of products.
7. Hiring Freelancers.
There are a lot of sights out there for freelance talent. So, instead of hiring a full time staffer (unless you have a lot of money) hire temporary ones. Depending on your needs you can hire freelancers to do just about anything for your business and the costs are low. Just be sure to check their reviews to be sure you are getting the correct people.
You can hire designers, website builders, accounting, marketing and well the list goes on and on. Do searches to find the sites that have freelancers. A couple of sites that come to mind are Freelancer.com and Guru.com. I have used Freelancer and have received some great work, but not Guru. I am sure there are many other sites, so also check to see if there are any other fees the sights may charge users.
8. Client Speak
Most of us speak in terms of “me” or “I”, but when talking with (or emailing) a client you need to change your vocabulary. How? This one word…”We”. The best way to keep a client happy and coming back is to use the word “we”.
This one word creates a teamwork atmosphere and makes the client feel important. So, how do you use that word in a sentence? Simple:
“We need to figure out how that brochure should look”
“What we can do is to pick the color of…”
“Let’s get together to see how we can address the website design issue”
You should get the idea and if necessary keep a post-it note near the phone or your computer so you don’t forget.
9. Social Media
This is an area many designers overlook or don’t spend enough time exploring. Social media is where many potential customers go to find designers for their projects. So, everything you share or write is seen by someone and that someone could be a potential client.
Social media is a place to express your opinions about any subject, but keep in mind if you are badmouthing car dealers you don’t want to approach them for business. Unless, of course, they don’t have any computers. The same goes with your personal posts. These can be the most telling if you are pissed at someone or are posting negative comments.
The suggestion is to write about the business you are pushing and to let others know you are an expert in your field by writing compelling posts. One of the best sites for business is LinkedIn where you can find many businesses and many contacts, but it takes a lot of work.
These are just a few of the ideas to help you grow your freelance design business. I will be posting more articles and offering a few PDF’s coming soon. Check back and keep updated, but most of all success in your freelance business!
Questions? Comments? Suggestions?
What other ideas can you add to this list? I would love to hear how you have gown your business or plan to grow it.
The Creative Tablet