How to Find, Lure, and Hook “Trophy-Sized” Clients for Your Freelance Business

Freelance pros can learn a lot from successful fishermen.

Sounds a little unusual … I know. But please … bear with me. For, as you’ll soon find out, both must engage in rather similar activities in order to be successful.

Here are three of those similarities … as well as some ideas you can use to start finding, luring, and hooking your own “trophy-sized” freelance clients yourself:

The Successful Fisherman: Knows where to find hungry fish.
The Successful Freelancer: Knows where to find potential clients.

Fishermen will sometimes travel great distances to find the “perfect spot” to catch fish. Perhaps it’s a hidden section of a river … a remote lake … a stretch of coastline … or even a shipwreck. They’ll go wherever they think they’ve got the best shot of catching the kind of fish they want to catch.

Adopt a similar strategy for your growing freelance business. Go where your potential clients “congregate” in large numbers.

For starters:

1) Attend Industry-Specific Events: What conventions, seminars, conferences, and events do your potential clients attend? Make a point to go to as many of these events as you can afford to … even if it requires a trip across the country.

If you land just one or two big clients from just one event, your trip will likely pay for itself many times over the course of your career.

This is exactly how freelance copywriter Monica Day got her start … by attending AWAI’s FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp. Within three months, she earned over $17,000 in fees from new clients.

2) Get Your Name in the Media: What newspapers, newsletters, magazines, and periodicals do a significant number of your potential clients read? What television programs do they watch? What radio stations do they listen to? What other “offbeat” forms of media do they pay attention to?

Find out as much as you can about the media your prospects pay attention to, then use the media to get your name out there … right in front of your prospects! For example, let’s say you’re a freelance web designer and you want to promote your services. You could create a press release about something you’re working on (or have someone else do the press release for you).

Maybe you’ve got an upcoming event you’re involved with … or a new website you’re launching … or something entirely different. Get some press releases out to the media! If your press release efforts are successful – and it gets published where your potential clients will see it – you’ll likely experience a surge in inquiries about your services.

You can also place advertisements for your services in the media – in places where your prospects will see it … but only do this if it makes sense. If this is a strategy you want to employ, make sure you do your homework first. Before you place an ad, find what your competitors are doing. Are they advertising, too? If absolutely nobody is advertising in a particular medium, that could be a red flag. And it might not be worth your time.

However, if you do see one or more of your competitors advertising in a particular medium, give it a closer look. Take a look at the ads. Notice over time if any of their ads come up again and again. (That’s a sign the ads are working.) Then, you can “borrow” ideas from these ads (don’t steal from them outright, of course!) and use them as inspiration when you create your own unique, winning ads in similar media.

3) Post Messages on “Social-Media” Websites: Which forums, blogs, and Facebook groups do your potential clients frequent? Which websites, podcasts, and YouTube videos do they pay attention to? Make a list of where your potential clients hang out online. Then, you can post messages and comments, create your own videos and podcasts, write your own articles, and more to help get your name out there, prove your expertise, and provide an opportunity for potential clients to contact you.

Next …

The Successful Fisherman: Knows which fishing tackle to use to land hungry fish.
The Successful Freelancer: Knows which marketing tools to use to land potential clients.

Hey … I’m not an expert on fly-fishing … but I DO know that fly-fishermen use many different flies, like “The Light Cahill,” “The Gray Midge,” “The Royal Wulff,” “The Rusty Spinner,” or “The Leadwing Coachman,” to name a few … in their efforts to catch fish.

Which marketing strategies can you use to “catch” potential clients? You’ve got many tools at your disposal. Would your potential clients respond best to a phone call? Email? A face-to-face meeting? A link to your website? A Google AdWords campaign? All of the above? None of the above? Or something else all together? Here it pays to know what’s working right now.

For example, if you know other freelancers in your industry have used websites and networking at events to land big clients, it’s in your best interest to consider the same.

Or perhaps you notice that a freelancer’s Google AdWords ad has been consistently appearing in the top listings for several months. If so, there’s a very good chance it’s working. Study it. Try to determine what’s making it work. And then borrow what you learn when you plan and execute your own marketing strategy.

Interestingly, this strategy reminds me of a scene in one of my favorite films – A River Runs Through It. In the scene, Norman (played by Craig Sheffer) has just returned home to Montana after a long absence, and goes fishing with his brother, Paul (played by Brad Pitt) for the first time in six years.

Norman’s rusty from a lack of practice and is having a lot of trouble catching fish, so he asks Paul what fly he’s using to catch so many fish. Paul suggests using a different fly. Norman takes Paul’s advice, changes his fly, and lands a nice-sized trout soon afterwards.

You can try a similar tactic. Pay attention to what your competitors are doing to find new clients and then adopt some of their winning strategies for your own self-marketing campaign.

And finally …

The Successful Fisherman: Needs patience, persistence, and perseverance.
The Successful Freelancer: Needs patience, persistence, and perseverance.

Sometimes fishermen will go for hours … days … weeks … even months before landing “the big fish.” Just read Ernest Hemingway’s award-winning novel The Old Man and the Sea and you’ll get the idea.

Prepare adequately and you probably won’t have to wait as long as “The Old Man” in the book. However, even if you know where your potential clients congregate and you do a decent job of marketing to them, it may take some time before you actually land “the big one.”

Be patient. Be persistent. Persevere. Simply keep studying your market, know where they congregate, know what they’re hungry for, and offer it to them.

Do this consistently, and sooner or later, you’ll start landing “trophy-sized” freelance clients yourself.

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Published: February 24, 2009

1 Response to “How to Find, Lure, and Hook “Trophy-Sized” Clients for Your Freelance Business”

  1. The story of a fisherman,, related to freelance writing is really encouraging. we should, as freelance writers, have patience, persistence and perseverance. This tactic will help build our writing career. One thing more, in my opinion, the writer should write anything he likes, daily so as to called a writer.

    Mahesh SeelviFebruary 27, 2014 at 4:38 am


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