Continued from page 1
=> Approach Your Cold Market
Once you've approached your so-called "warm market", it's time to start on cold. Start by gathering up a list of businesses in your local area or industry that you think would have use of your services. Prepare a letter of introduction and send it, together with your business card, to your list of prospects. Your letter of introduction should make if very clear why you are writing. Identify yourself and specific skills that may appeal to reader and why.
Follow up in a week with a telephone call to make sure materials arrived safely. If other person is approachable, try and strike up a conversation about what you could do for business. Otherwise, thank person for their time, ask them to keep you in mind for future work and calendar to contact them again in 30 days' time.
Continue to work your market like this. Remember, persistence pays off. Don't be discouraged if you receive little warmth or interest in response to your approaches to your cold market. It takes time and persistence. Just don't take it personally. A good way to approach it is to tackle a fixed number per day. Start out by making a list of, say, 300 businesses you want to approach. Develop your list from Yellow Pages, local library and web to start with. Calendar to approach 10 businesses a day for next 30 days. That means ten calls a day, followed by 10 letters of introduction (together with a copy of your brochure/resume and business card) and a follow up phone call a week later.
Where there is interest, you may be able to schedule a meeting. Where there is no interest, schedule for a further follow up call in 30 days. If there is still no interest, schedule for a further call in 90 days. Or maybe you would prefer to do something else to stay in contact. A good way is to publish a newsletter for your clients and colleagues. Make it relevant to recipient and it's a good way of keeping your name in front of your prospects. A quarterly newsletter is probably frequent enough. Send it, with another of your business cards, to your list and, over time, you will see that it will start paying off in form of business.
Another idea to think about is to produce a set of samples of your work; a portfolio if you will. Make 8.5 x 11 copies of your work and keep them in an artist's portfolio for presentations when you're able to arrange face to face meetings with potential clients.
=> Advertising and Promotion
Next comes advertising. If you're a website designer, possibly your best advertisement is your own website. But don't stop there. Advertise in publications your target market reads.
Another good way to generate business is to join associations and groups affiliated with your industry. Chambers of Commerce are a good place to make handy contacts.
You will probably find that in early stages of your freelance career you spend more time marketing yourself and your services than you spend actually working. There's a financial cost to that, of course. How do you finance your marketing if you don't have any money coming in? For this reason, early days will be lean and mean. Make sure you have financial wherewithall to survive this period.
HOW DOES A FREELANCER MAKE MONEY?
You will only make money as a freelancer if you charge more that it costs you to do work in terms of your time, expenses and materials. Factor in a profit component to every job you quote for and make sure that that profit component is in ADDITION to an allowance for your time. For more on pricing your services, see "Pricing Yourself To Get and Stay In Business", at http://www.ahbbo.com/pricing.html .
Some freelancers charge by hour and others by project. In reality, you will probably use a combination of both methods depending on nature of job and client.
You can get an idea of current market rates by surveying your competitors. Don't be obvious about it though; competitors are, naturally enough, reluctant to divulge information about their businesses to their competitors. So you'll probably need to employ a bit of subterfuge here by posing as a potential customer, for example. In fact, it's in your legal interests that your competition doesn't give you pricing information if it knows you're a competitor. Such conduct can be construed as price fixing which can land both of you in extremely hot water. So, keep it safe and use circuitous methods of obtaining pricing information from competitors.
A question often asked by freelancers is "do I need a contract?". Well, to start with, once you've negotiated a deal with a new client you have a contract. The question is whether it's oral or in writing. An oral contact is just as enforceable as a written one but problem becomes one of proof. How do you prove terms of your contract if all you have is one person's word against another's? For this reason, a written contract is always a good idea. It needn't be anything too elaborate. In fact, even an exchange of letters will do. Just be sure to include basic terms:
=> Describe job
What must you do to perform contract? Be as specific as possible here and try not to be open-ended. "Create a website for client" is too vague. What would you do if client came back after you'd finished and said, "but there's no shopping cart, there's no feedback form?" and you hadn't quoted your time for these things in striking price? Better to say, "Create website at client's direction consisting of (a) home page; (b) products and services page; (c) order page; (d) shopping cart and (e) feedback form". By requiring client to be very specific about what it is they want from their website, how they want it to look etc. you can go a long way to avoiding misunderstandings caused by vagueness.
=> Set price
State in unequivocal terms price you are to receive for job. This can be either a project cost such as $5,000 or an hourly rate such as "$150 hour or part thereof; minimum of ten (10) hours" or whatever.
=> State time for performance
Performance means not only when you will complete your part of bargain (i.e. delivering completed website to client) but when client must complete his or hers (i.e. by paying you).
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online .... practical home business ideas, resources and strategies for the work-from-home entrepreneur. http://www.ahbbo.com