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One of the most difficult things about freelancing, no matter which sector you are in, is keeping a steady stream of work coming through. Being faced with a situation where you suddenly have nothing to do is at best a worrying experience and, at worst, can lead to serious financial difficulties.
Don’t let it happen to you – here are my four top tips on how to keep the freelance jobs coming!
Many freelancers work by the maxim of ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’, and concentrate on the jobs they have, rather than thinking about where the next one is coming from. This can often lead to the familiar scenario of a manic period of working all hours, followed by a period of doing absolutely nothing.
To avoid this you need to set aside time each and every week – no matter how busy you are – for marketing your services and publicising yourself. This could be through networking, responding to job adverts, advertising, social media, cold calling or a multitude of other methods. However you do it, just make sure it is a set part of your schedule, rather than being done in a haphazard fashion when you have nothing else on.
The most likely source of any new work is from existing customers, as they already know you and value your skills. This means keeping in touch with your clients is vital – try sending out a newsletter, connecting through social media, meeting at networking events or making the odd phone call.
Even something as simple as sending out a card at Christmas fosters this vital relationship and creates a positive image. I even know a freelance accountant who invites all his clients past and present to a barbecue each summer. That’s obviously not going to work if your client base is spread across the world – or if you live in a flat – but it has worked well for him in strengthening provider / customer relationships.
Nothing destroys trust faster than failing to meet a deadline, as your clients rely on you to turn in work on time so the next stage of the project can get going – if you’re late then this throws everything off kilter and reflects very badly on you. Get a reputation for turning in work behind schedule and your customer base will deplete at an alarming rate.
Turning in work on time or early, on the other hand, will boost your reputation considerably and lead to satisfied clients recommending you to others. Don’t ever be tempted to promise delivery in a timescale you know is unrealistic – it may get you the job, but it will harm you in the long run.
Testimonials are a powerful method of obtaining new business, so it is important to generate a network of reviews. You should look beyond a testimonial page on your own website by inviting customers to leave reviews on Google+ Local and directory listing sites such as Freeindex and Qype. These provide independent proof of your worth and can be instrumental in bringing in fresh business.
Photo by Paul Bica
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