This week’s guest blog post comes from Mapit Accountancy, a company after our own hearts, specialising in teaching accounting to newcomers in the most efficient and effective way possible – online.
Making the move away from employment to being a freelancer is an exciting experience, at least in the early days, anyway.
But soon the reality of having to source your own clients and win them over will sink in, and if you’re not prepared, this can become a pretty daunting prospect.
Fear not, however – there are ways to ensure that you make a good impression on prospective clients and get them to sign on the dotted line. Read on for our freelancer’s guide to getting hired.
Invest in your brand
As a freelancer you need to invest in yourself as a brand in the same way that your competitors will. You will probably be competing against much bigger agencies in the battle to win a client, and so you will need your website to be on point.
It can be tempting to save money and try to create your website yourself if you’re not a talented web designer/developer.
While it may be a big investment, it’s worth hiring a professional to build your website, design your logo and even your create your content, so that your website stands alongside any agency that you may be up against.
Your website is the first impression you will make on the outside world, so make sure that it makes a good one.
Find the right meeting space
For freelancers who work from home, meeting with a prospective client can be a challenge as you don’t want to conduct a business meeting in the spare bedroom of your house with the sound of your neighbour mowing their lawn in the background.
There are a few different options that may help you to come across more professionally to prospective clients.
You might offer to come to their place of business to pitch to them. This way you don’t need to worry about finding a location to host your meeting.
If this isn’t possible, look at your back-up options. A popular choice for a lot of freelancers is taking the client out for a coffee, if you live near a local café which has free Wi-Fi then you may have a ready-made meeting place.
Sometimes, however, you will want to go the extra step to impress. Hotels are great locations for business meetings; you have the choice of a relaxed meeting over a coffee, or treating them to a fancy lunch. If you really want to go all out you could even hire a small function room for your presentation.
Don’t worry about hiring an office just for meeting clients; they will know when they approach a freelancer that you will most likely work from home.
Remember that you are selling yourself and it’s better to have a bit of personality than to come across as just another suit.
Not only a great motto for the scouts, being prepared is also essential for getting hired as a freelancer. Your preparation will need to be evident right from the beginning of your interaction with the client, which is usually your proposal/quote.
Again it’s important that you don’t skimp on quality, as this could be your first opportunity to make an impression. Spend as much time as you can on your proposal and make it as professional as possible.
Remember that you will be up against agencies who have been doing this for years, so you need to match and even surpass their standards.
When you a pitching your services, make sure that your prospective client understands exactly what they are getting when they hire you. This is your opportunity to explain the advantages of hiring a freelancer over an agency.
While agency staff clock out at 5:30 and forget about the project, you will be dedicating every hour necessary to ensure that you do the best job possible. After all, your reputation and the possibility of future work is at stake.
While the salesperson or MD of an agency may impress the client, don’t be afraid to remind them that it won’t be that person that is actually doing the daily work on the project.
For all they know, their project could land on the desk of a newbie still learning their way in the job. If they choose you, on the other hand, they will be getting a seasoned professional who is competent enough in their field of expertise that you have been able to go out on you own and offer a rounded service at a fraction of a big agency’s price.
Keep track of your finances
It’s important that your would-be client feels assured that working with a freelancer will be just as smooth and professional a process as with a larger agency.
You should have a seamless invoicing and payment system in place to allow them to pay your fee as easily as possible, whether it’s one-off or a monthly direct debit.
You will also need to keep track of all your invoicing so that you have the correct information on each one, professional clients will expect a professional service throughout every aspect of your business.
It’s always a good idea to get to grips with your accounts and there are lots of great online sources where you can learn more about accountancy.
It’s also important to hire a professional to look after them as well, of course. It might be worth you giving My Accountant Friend the once over.
- The habits of successful freelancers and contractors
- Why choose an online accountant
- Reasons to be free: why choose to go it alone?