Annie Manning, Freelance Writer and Marketing Consultant gives a few tips on making the most out of your freelancing career and that common bugbear among freelancers, how to find new clients.
1. Identify your skills
In the current climate, we will continue to see organisations reducing staff, re-examining the way they source additional staff.
As budgets are cut, companies who previously relied on agencies to provide staff are forced to re-think the cost effectiveness of doing so, thus opening up opportunities for freelancers. If they have your details on file you may just get that call.
Decide exactly what service you can offer and try to be competitively priced. Offer something different to give you that unique selling point. Do be prepared to discuss a client’s requirements in full, as you may be able to for example take on the admin part of the role to secure the project. However, one word of warning – you cannot be all things to all men!
TIP: Don’t pretend to possess skills that you don’t have.
2. Identify your sector/clients
Identify the companies within your sector of expertise, dependent on your skills. So for example, if you would like to work within the Charitable Sector, visit The Institute of Fundraising at www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk. Nowadays, it has never been easier to research information on the internet. Your local Chamber of Commerce will also be invaluable for researching SMEs in your local area.
Additionally, PCG considered the voice of the Freelancer, is an excellent organisation which provides support for Freelancers. Aside from the useful information on the website at www.pcg.org.uk, it provides information on networking groups within your area.
Don’t underestimate the value of networking, training courses and seminars – and trade associations often offer reduced rates for members.
There are pros and cons to attending networking events. If you have time to spare then they can prove to be fruitful at a relatively low cost. Highlight potential events well in advance, but don’t underestimate your hourly rate. There can be a tendency to attend the same event, with the same people without benefiting from referrals.
4. Organise your promotional material
Keep your CV and promotional material up to date, including business cards, letterheads and flyers – and keep them to the ready before approaching companies.
5. Market your skills
If you’re new to freelancing, you soon realise that you have to be your own marketing/employment agency. Just as an agency courts organisations to find opportunities for their clients, you’ll have to do the same. This means approaching them well in advance, and keeping in touch by way of friendly reminders, that you’re still around should they need your services.
If you feel you lack marketing experience, do take advice from an expert. Becoming freelance is often about self-development and retraining, so if you cannot afford to go on a marketing course, don’t be dismissive of the many self-help books out there.
TIP: Training and research is tax deductible – so keep those receipts!
Above all else – stay positive.