Freelancers are small business owners, and for businesses to succeed over time, they need to either grow or (if they prefer) at least maintain the level of success they’re currently at.
As Paul Lancaster, founder of Newcastle Start-Up Week, said to me on twitter: “Good business, big & small, is all about sales & happy customers. Focus on making more of both & you’ll be successful” However, we can’t rely on existing customers always being there for us, which means we need to go looking for new ones. But how often do we need to? And how do we go about it?
We asked those who are currently freelancing in the UK to share their experiences, via the Freelance Heroes FB group, with the questions: How often do you go after new clients? And how do you go about it?
Notes to take from this include that over 71% clearly feel that effort in actively searching for new customers needs to be done at least monthly, with over 91% feeling it is important to do at least quarterly.
Of course, we need more context behind the numbers. Here are a selection of comments added to the poll:
1. Qualify lead
2. Present solution
4. Follow up up to 10 times if necessary
I say daily because I action one of these on a lead every day. – Alex Hughes
I am always talking to possible new clients as I want a pipeline full of prospects. It’s better to be able to say you’re too busy when someone asks than it is to be desperate for work when you have some time available. – Andy Bargery
I have ’10x new biz’ on my list every week, which could be a proposal, cold email, coffee with someone I met at an event, chasing an old lead, checking all my groups and responding to relevant things, etc etc. Most of my clients are referrals but v aware of the need to keep up a consistent effort! – Amy Lainchbury
I say quarterly as most of my clients are long-term continuous clients (e.g. my longest one is 4 years (when i started out), the rest are up to 2 years) so if one drops off, then I look for another one through, say, networking or word of mouth or emailing. Not an ideal situation but I don’t need lots of new clients all the time. – Julia Brearly
I put monthly – I am lucky enough to be reasonably chock a block at the moment. I do little bits each week and review each month where I am at. Sometimes, things take months to come off so I try and plant seeds every week which bear fruit a few months or so later. – Joanne Parker
I put quarterly, but in reality it massively varies. I’d say 90% of my clients come to me through word of mouth these days, but when work dries up (like it did for a loooong time this year) then I’ll be out there contacting people more often. – Frankie Tortora
Not had to – they come to me. Only have so many hours in the day, so will only chase new clients if I don’t have enough work. Always have the contracting option through an agency if needed.
No ambition to grow the business into an agency or anything like that. Just want to make ends meet until I can pack it all in. – Craig Wright
Never as, so far, they’ve come to me. I do things like giving advice on relevant groups and keeping my profile up though but not strictly ‘going after’ people – Anne Carter
What about you? How often do you search for new clients? And how do you go about it? Please let us know using #FreelanceHeroes on Twitter, Instagram, or Linkedin. As ever, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
– Ed Goodman, Nov 18 (@edagoodman)