“I reach out to so many clients but I can’t seem to land a project, and most of the time, I don’t even get a reply back. Why?!”
It’s a stressful feeling to not have any client work, and it’s frustrating when you can’t even get a reply back half the time from the clients you reach out to.
You’ve read many times that you should be reaching out to your prospective clients, so you do. You compile a list, you introduce yourself, and ask if there’s anything you can do to help.
What could you be doing wrong?
Struggling to find and land freelance work is a common issue for most freelancers. I’d like to share a few possible reasons why you may not be landing new clients.
1. You don’t know your own freelance business
At this very moment I’d like you to answer these simple questions:
- Can you introduce yourself and your freelance business in one sentence?
- Who are your clients and how do you help them specifically?
- What is your freelance rate? With that could you provide an accurate project estimate if needed?
- Let’s say I want to start a project with you – what’s the first step we’d take? Then what comes after that?
If you hung up on any of those questions above, then the problem may lie here.
Before you reach out to any clients you should have your freelance business fully established. Goals must be set in order for you to know what to work towards. Not understanding your own freelance business and its goals can raise many issues down the road.
I guarantee after you establish and fully understand your own freelance business you’ll be better prepared when reaching out to potential clients.
If you need help setting the foundation to your freelance business, here’s a post I wrote on my personal blog about creating a simple freelance business plan.
2. Your brand lacks personality
Just because you have a logo doesn’t mean you have a brand.
Your brand should be the experience or feeling a client gets when doing business with you and when viewing your website.
When a potential client clicks-through or stumbles upon your website, can they grasp who you are and what you do immediately?
As an individual you already have a brand—It’s who you are and how you present yourself. Your personal brand can just be what it is, or you can shape it – from the content you share to the work you produce.
If you can’t display a photo of yourself, cut the generic copy and write in your own words, then no client can relate to you as the person behind your freelance business, and that will be your downfall.
Visually, your brand can consist of a defined color scheme, clean typeface(s), your logo, and overall graphic style. These combined with personable content should provoke a certain personality or feeling to anyone that visits your website.
So… What’s your story?
3. You aren’t putting yourself out there enough
Calling yourself a freelancer, putting your portfolio online, and reaching out to potential clients won’t be enough for you to find a steady amount of work.
There are many ways you can find clients, but clients can also find you. Are you doing everything you can to put your name and freelance business out there?
Try and get your name and website on as many sites as you can. This can be done very easily—Start commenting on the articles you read, guest post on an established blogs about a topic you have an opinion on, interact on social media, and add your services to online directories. The more external links you can create for yourself, the better. This will help increase traffic to your website and help boost your site’s ranking on search engines.
For more indepth information on this, you can read my post, How to better your chances at getting found by clients.
4. You’re under qualified for the projects you’re going after
You can try to reach out to those million dollar companies all you want, but chances are slim they’re going to invest in a solo freelancer with a portfolio lacking corporate work.
If you’d love to work with large corporate companies then you’ll have to start small and work your way up, or team up with others so you can delegate the workload more efficiently. (However, this raises many other possible complications, like how payments are split, finding the right people to work with, etc.)
A great way to reach the type of clients you’d like to work with is find a design firm that works with those clients, then see if you can contract in on any projects. You’ll gain a lot of necessary experience and strengthen your portfolio for the type of work you’d like to specialize in.
5. You lack confidence
Everyone starts somewhere and everyone had to learn through trial and error to make an attempt at success.
Clients can sense when you’re unsure about yourself, and this boils down to how you handle each project with your work process.
If a client replies back to you asking for an estimate, will you know how to respond back with confidence?
Using estimates as an example; you must stick to the price you give a client. Don’t word your estimates like, “I can do your new logo for $400 if that works for you.”
With negotiating project estimates especially, you must deliver with confidence. Breakdown and state the cost. You’re a professional running a real business and you need to make money to succeed.
Your clients shouldn’t be spending money on your services, rather, investing in them, because what you’re providing them is not a commodity and they should understand that (through your confidence.)
When you exude confidence, this gives your clients confidence in working with you.
6. You’re blasting templated emails
Just because you send out 20 emails to potential clients a day doesn’t mean you necessarily have a better chance at landing a new project.
Like your confidence, a client can sense a template email, and there’s no way they’re going to consider you.
When you reach out to clients, you need to first do your research on them. Get to know their business, what they do, and most importantly, how you can help them specifically. Then find the exact person you should be contacting.
You could use a base template for your emails, but be sure to address the person you’re emailing, mention their company, very briefly introduce yourself, then share how you can help them, and what the results could possibly yield with your help.
7. You’re stuck in your comfort zone
I was never a good writer, yet here I am, running a blog and sharing my thoughts on something I love to do – hoping others can find use in it.
When I started guest posting on other sites, I had my doubts: “What if people don’t enjoy what I have to say?” Or “What if I can’t deliver the right type of content?”
Even with these fears and my lack of confidence in writing, I did it anyway. I wrote guest posts for established blogs, which ultimately resulted in the creation of this blog you’re currently reading. If it weren’t for me stepping out of my comfort zone, I would have never started writing, and I would not be where I am today in my freelance career.
Set aside your fears and start taking action – even if it scares you – even if you end up failing.
When fear is viewed in the right perspective it can be the sign that’ll lead you towards success. [Tweetable]
The bottom line
Freelancing isn’t just about having a logo with a website or shooting as many emails as you possibly can to try and land client work.
It’s about the business you build, how you build it, and how you choose to operate it.
More than likely, you have a lot of room to grow. Your brand, your work process, and even your client base will continuously change over time.
You may feel discouraged at times, and you may even want to give up entirely. But I promise you, if you stick with it and continue to give your freelance career your full effort, then you’ll see results.
Are you ready to run a successful freelance business and start landing new client work?