The Grace and Grit of Client-Getting
I have a bit of an admission to make. I hate getting clients. In fact, it's the one thing I like LEAST about having my own business, and about living the writer's life. (Come to think about it, that and accounting/taxes are the only two things I can think of that are NOT to like.)
But, you know what? It's a necessary evil in this business … So, we should do everything we can to make it easier on ourselves — including learning to accept it. (Note I said "accept it" — not "like it!")
And, here's the silly thing. Introductions are the most dreadful part of the process. Once I'm speaking with a potential new client, I get in the zone, we start talking, and I have a blast. I'm starting a relationship that will — in many cases — continue for years and be worth thousands and thousands of dollars (and perhaps much more) for both of us.
Yet, it still gets my heart thumping and my blood pressure rising … My hands sweating and my jaw quivering … To start speaking with a new potential client.
Though the more I work in this business, the more I've realized …
There Are Certain Unshakable Truths and Effective Methods You Must Know When It Comes to Client-Getting
Here's the thing. What's unknown is scary. So, as long as you don't know how to get clients, you'll be scared of the process. The more you know about it, the easier it is to accept.
Whole books could be written on the subject, but I'm going to attempt to boil down the unshakable truths and effective methods I know right here for you, to help you move forward and get more clients for your freelance biz.
So, let's get started …
- Client-getting takes grace. There's a certain friendly composure you should have when approaching new clients. You have to come across as strong and confident, but not cocky. You have to know what you're doing and show it without taking the show away from your clients. The best way to get in a mindset of grace when you're speaking with a new potential client is to take a deep breath and think, "The purpose of speaking with this person is to find a fit between this person's needs and my skills. That means I first need to be open and inquisitive about their needs, then I need to thoughtfully apply my skills and knowledge to filling those needs." And beyond this, be yourself and enjoy yourself — there's nothing that steals your grace quicker than being false to who you are (even if being yourself makes it clear you're not a fit for this client).
- Client-getting takes grit. There will be rejection. You'll be ignored — your phone calls and emails will go unanswered. There will be times when you don't know where your next check is coming from. To deal with this, you have to reach down deep inside to where you cannot be moved — and hold on tight to that place while the winds of change blow. It's not always easy to deal with rejection and downtimes … But to succeed, you have to. And if you can do that — stick with it in bad times just like you stick with it in good — you can find enormous success. To deal with these trying times, my favorite approach is saying to myself the old mantra, "This too shall change."
- Clients need you as much as you need them. Most businesses that work with copywriters think there's a shortage of copywriters — even as many copywriters out there think there's not enough work. Every client I'm working with today is always looking for more good copywriters. To be good you have to: reliably produce copy worth testing in the market, be reliable in doing what you say you're going to do, interact with clients in a way that makes them want to work with you (listening to feedback is important!). You don't need to be Michael Masterson, Paul Hollingshead, or Don Mahoney to be in demand. You just need to be there, show up, take the time to do the work well (don't be lazy with your copy), and you'll find there's more work than you have time to do.
- Clients are people, too. Clients have their own dreams, desires, destinies, fears, frustrations, and failures. Most don't see themselves as unapproachable gods — they're people like everybody else. And when you approach them on that level, you're more comfortable, they're more comfortable, and you can move forward to form a lasting bond and partnership.
- Get in contact. There are very few people who "naturally" attract clients. And usually, this comes only after years and years of reputation-building. You can't wait for clients to come to you. It's up to you to proactively approach new and potential clients, introduce yourself, let them know you want to work with them, and see if there's a fit for you within what they're doing. So, do it — find out who your contact would be, and contact them. That's how you get on a client's radar.
- Stay in contact. This applies to new and past clients equally. In our mile-a-minute society, it's easy to forget what we were doing 10 minutes ago … Much more so last week, last month, or last year. So, if you've contacted someone who expressed some interest … Stay in contact with friendly, personal emails, phone calls, or other messages to stay on their radar. Don't be a pest — but if you make sure they stay aware of who you are and how you can help them, you'll be more likely to land that new project when it comes up. Same thing for past clients — they know the value of your work, now it's up to you to continually stay on their radar, and even provide NEW IDEAS on how to grow their business (this is a blockbuster approach to getting repeat work from clients).
- Deliver consistently remarkable work. Put in the time, effort, and energy to do excellent work. If it were your money on the line, would you use your copy? Your answer better be a resounding YES before you submit it. Constantly putting your copy to this test makes you create better copy. And better copy is worth talking about — it is remarkable. Our industry is a small world, too. As clients talk about your copy to their colleagues and friends, you'll get referrals and repeat work. This is the single-best way to build a lasting freelance biz in the industry — to deliver work that's worth talking about.
- Always be feeding yourself new ideas. You'll never lose favor with clients if you're always bringing them new ideas and insights based on proven marketing principles. Marketing is built on new, interesting, and adapted ideas, and the people who have the most good ideas typically earn the most, too. And, the best way to get good ideas is to consistently learn from others who've blazed trails before you. So, don't be afraid to buy another course or attend another event — the ideas you'll gain will pay back your investment many times over when you apply them to help your clients solve their marketing problems.
- Money favors speed. This is about action. If you take action, you'll create success. If you don't take action, you won't. Simple as that. So, get up in the morning and do one thing to move your freelance biz forward. You already know what that one thing needs to be. Just do it quickly — 10 things executed at 97% will accomplish far more than 1 thing executed at 100%. So, be sure you do a great job — but you don't have to be perfect. Do it, get it done, and keep moving. Pretty soon, the results will catch up with you and you'll be amazed at what you've accomplished.
I've found these to be the unshakable truths and effective methods for client-getting and building your freelance copywriting career. I hope you take them seriously. Because when I apply them, it becomes easier to get clients for my freelance biz, I stay more booked with work, I earn higher fees, and the actual process of getting clients makes me less and less fearful.
So, why not prove it to yourself? Apply what you've learned in this article and go out and build your freelance business, too. You can do it!
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