Freelance leads have to count. They are your lifeblood, after all. But it can be hard to know how to generate leads, especially if marketing isn’t your usual area of expertise.
One of the most common mistakes freelancers make is to confuse marketing and/or advertising with lead generation. Marketing and advertising are about capturing eyeballs and garnering interest. Freelance leads and their generation are about creating relationship.
Put simply, it’s about taking that interest and converting into action.
Here’s how to generate freelance leads
Make your marketing consistent
Freelance clients are busy- that means they want to know what the deal is quickly. Freelancing itself also wears the scars of stigma. This is something we need to counter to ensure we can lift that stigma. And that starts with consistent, quality marketing.
What do I mean by this?
You want to build trust in the clients attracted to you quickly and effectively. You have to demonstrate that spending money with you is a wise decision by proving you can be trusted.
Your freelance leads have other options. And they are comparing them. It’s up to you to make sure you compare favourably.
Tips for making your freelance marketing look consistent:
- Choose key phrases that you want to be known for on your social media, website, newsletters, business cards and wherever else you can think of
- Tickle Google’s bells by filling in things like Google My Business and think about optimising your pages and posts
- If you have a blog and you abandon it, look at ways you can make this less obvious. E.g. removing date content, providing quarterly roundups, removing the blog from prominent places like menus and landing pages etc
- Digitally de-clutter old listings off directories and the like. A good way to make this easy is to keep a folder with the registrations in your email. Update the information if you move, change offerings, change business name etc
- Delete rather than abandon social media profiles you no longer want. Or clean them so they are merely placeholder
- Archive old news. Ask places with out-of-date interviews to archive them or update them with extra information. Do the same for old blogs
Your potential freelance leads can then trip over you in multiple places with the exact same message.
Don’t let new ideas bamboozle you
There is an amazing array of ways to market, advertise and publicise your business. And it can get quite exciting to explore technology and make use of the latest trend. Or get excited by new social media or groups or ideas that quickly wane. There’s always someone with the cool new way to ticket your event or generate new relationships. Everyone has a special workbook or fancy sheet that can generate new marketing ideas and freelance leads.
Think of moments like hipstamatic photo colouration and how that was popular a while ago. And how it looks dated now. You want to avoid those sorts of situations if you can.
Modern customers are cynical of marketing and advertising. We distrust it. Beyond early adopters, a lot of customer types don’t go in for the latest shiny thing.
Our clients also self-research to work out whether your claims are genuine. They want to know your values, ideas and how you go about the work suit their purposes. And when they make the decision to hire you as their chosen freelancer, they want to be able to feel connected to you.
They want to be able to trust you.
The tip here is always give your clients the ability to research you and explore your business on their own terms.
Help clients get to know you to help convert warm freelance leads by:
- Supplying blog content that is blatant about “why you should choose me over the next guy”
- Sharing your tips, techniques, tricks, thoughts and ways you help clients in video, pod and/or blog form
- Linking the interviews, podcasts and media that has been done on you to your website. Your website is your self-invention machine. Use it to invent a hub of amazingness around your freelance business
- Having something that helps them that you give away in exchange for an email address. E.g. eBook, tip sheet, form to do their own marketing, templates, resource lists, research reports etc. This will help grow your freelance leads while building the trust
Remember your client is a busy person
The average Australian working week may be 50 hours a week, but the average manager is working a lot longer than that. It’s the manager that you need to impress because they are usually the budget to spend on you.
Your potential freelance leads don’t have brain space to figure out what you do. They want quick and easy communication.
When you write to, market to or contact a customer:
- Make it succinct and solution orientated. They want to know you can solve their problems, not add to the thinking they need to do
- Forget the corporate marketing spin. That’s usually what they deal with day-to-day and they could do with a break. Yes, even if that is what you end up giving to them as the job itself. Our clients have aspirations- and they can include wishing they could not be quite so …corporate
- Respect their time. Make your lead generation activities simple and easy for the time pressured person. Don’t make them think about it or get back to it later because they won’t
And please, follow them up. A lot of freelance leads die on the vine because we freelancers do not proactively follow them up. This is a diva tactic. Or the thinking of a person lacking in confidence. You don’t want to come across as either of those to your clients.
They’re busy. You are not the top priority in their life. Support them by letting them know you are there.
If you follow up your freelance leads, you will convert more freelance leads. It’s really that simple.
Make a strong introduction
All great relationships, work or otherwise, begin with a great introduction.
A lot of freelance lead generation reads like a cereal box of ingredients or a checklist. It misses the opportunity to reveal personality, capture creativity or shine.
Think about how you are going to make introductions in your freelance business.
Making a truly memorable introduction should include:
- Offering that introduction to the right person. Not everyone you meet is right for your business. Be selective. Make your offering of a business card a true invitation to connect at a networking event. Build funnels that attract niche freelance leads. Target people and make them feel special if you are cold calling or emailing.
- Don’t be shy about making your feelings known. Just like you would let a potential friend know you were interested, so too should you make a business contact or customer feel welcome. Tell your clients exactly why you want to work with them and how you see that working out
- Losing the sales patter and focussing on relationship instead. Work on your 60 second pitch so someone knows how you fit into the scheme of things. But also show your humanity. Have a sense of humour. Be generous. Make your potential freelance leads feel comfortable in your presence.
Be proactive with the available freelance leads
Collecting email address and business cards that don’t get used. Building websites that don’t get used or shared. Having social media that doesn’t remain active or feel interesting. The calls and voice mails that go un-returned.
These are the failures in freelance lead generation.
Think of your freelance leads like a bunch of potential party guests. If you invited someone to a social gathering and they turned up, how would they feel if you ignored them?
It’s up to you to make sure potential clients don’t end up feeling shy or being swept off their feet by another opportunity.
Some simple ways you can stay in front of mind are:
- Writing a “nice to meet you” email after you’ve met in person and exchanged details
- Sending a personal or auto-return email when someone registers that includes freebies and goodies
- Keeping a watchful eye on rises in your social media and asking them to introduce themselves. Thank them for joining your groups. Pay attention to their comments. Notice the new people.
The bottom line on building great freelance leads: Respect the little things
You don’t have to offer shiny prizes or big incentives to make new clients feel welcome.
They want to trust you. You have to think of the best ways to make that happen.
Your potential new freelance leads want to relax. By being yourself, you make that happen!
What clients want more than anything is to have their problems solved and their business and budget respected. By working to make sure you’re always relevant, front of mind and associated with helpfulness, your word of mouth increases.
Respecting the little things means you’ll be the freelancer introduced as the thinking, supportive and open answer to their business needs.
Isn’t that what you want from lead generation?