When self employed, one of the most difficult challenges to overcome is to find work. Keeping the work consistent and maintaining a stable income is even harder. Before applying aimlessly, it is first important to know your market and what it is that you intend to offer the client (Read previous blog: ‘How to successfully discover your niche as a freelance designer’).
When applying for work, it is important to act confidently. Don’t be flaky about your own abilities, the client will want to be sure to know that they can rely on you. Whether you’re aiming at the general public or a company, confidence in your abilities is key.
If you are ready to start applying and get yourself out there, then hopefully the following tips will come in handy when trying to achieve work. I have divided the points between ‘If you are planning on targeting companies’ and ‘If you are planning on targeting the general public’. If you have anymore points to offer, I would love to hear them!
If you plan on targeting companies:
#1 – Phone, phone, phone!
Phone calls are a lot more personal than both emails and letters. When talking on the phone, you can ask to speak directly to the person in charge. You can hear their voice, and they can hear yours. It allows you to get more of your personality across and ask more questions. When talking on the phone, it tends to put them on the spot which may get you work there and then. Reading an email or letter doesn’t necessarily have the same effect, it allows the recipient the opportunity to just skip over it or dispose of it altogether.
#2 – Why not drop in!
You could always visit some relevant companies in person. Pop in, speak to reception, ask for a meeting and introduce yourself. You can’t really get any more personal than face-to-face. It gives you the opportunity to ask them questions and for them to ask you questions back. Be polite, professional and as I have mentioned before, have confidence in your abilities!
#3 – Get your pricing right
Be sure to get your prices right. Don’t overprice yourself but also, don’t undercharge. Be sure to do your research. Why not find out what others designers charge?
#4 – Send an email
Send an email to potential clients with a professional CV, covering letter and portfolio attached.
If you can take photos of your work, then do so and show it off! Include them in the portfolio. It’s all well and good to say that you are good at something, but if you can prove it then all the better. As the saying goes, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words!’
#5 – Send a letter
If you wish, you could always send a letter to a company with printed versions of your CV, covering letter and portfolio. Why not try and be a little imaginative with your application? I have heard many stories about people sending all sorts in order to get themselves noticed and to make it harder for the potential client to just throw their application in the bin. I once heard a story of somebody sending a shoe with the note ‘Just trying to get my foot in the door’ attached. Companies are probably getting the same generic job applications through day-in-day-out. Don’t be boring, get creative!
#6 – Create a website
A professional website is always beneficial. It may not always be necessary, but it certainly helps. Your website link can be included on everything, from a business card to an email. Your website must show you off. Your work, your personality, the services you offer and contact details, all at the click of a button.
#7 – Business cards
Create some business cards and get them out there! Hand them out at local networking events. Perhaps ask local businesses (The cafe down the road or the kebab shop around the corner) to display them in their windows or on their counters. It’s always worth asking. I mean, if you don’t ask you don’t get, right?
#8 – Network
Look out for local events, meet others that may be in the same situation as yourself, or maybe even potential clients. Be sure to take a batch of business cards and anything else that will help boost your reputation. Even if you are confident in your abilities, there is always more to learn and new people to meet. Take advantage of such events and get yourself out there!
#9 – Social media
Social media is extremely handy. Create company profiles on websites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. They allow you to advertise yourself, build contacts, join relevant groups, create events, add photos of your work etc. You can link to your own website or blogs and also keep up to date with the competition.
#10 – Create a blog
Do you feel that you could offer others valuable advice within a specific area? Why not try a blog! Keeping a regularly updated blog could prove valuable to you as a freelance designer.
#11 – Use old contacts
Do you still keep in contact with old colleagues from a previous job? Use them to your advantage! Ask them whether they know of any jobs going within the industry. You never know, it could lead to something!
#12 – Trial period
If you’re really struggling to find paid work, another idea could be to offer a free/discounted trial period to a potential client. Use this trial period to show the company what you are capable of. Hopefully, if you prove your abilities, they will see you as an asset to their company and offer you more work.
If you plan on targeting the general public:
#1 – Talk about your business
If you have a passion for your chosen industry, talking about it will often come naturally. If you find yourself at a family occasion or at the train station, general chit chat may allow you the opportunity to talk about your business. You never know, work can sometimes come from the most unexpected sources.
#2 – Word of mouth
When you end up getting work, be sure to do it to the best of your abilities. Work hard, be confident and be polite. If you can make a good impression with a client, then they will be more likely to recommend you to others.
#3 – Business cards
Business cards are useful whether applying for work from companies or from the general public. Keep a batch of them in your wallet or purse. If you happen to get talking with somebody about your business, then hand out a card! Make sure to have your contact details and website written on them clearly.
#4 – Leaflets/brochures
Leaflets and brochures are larger than a business card. They allow you to go into a little more depth about your business and what you intend to offer the client. The extra space can also be used for images and photos. This allows the customer the opportunity to see what kind of work you have undertaken for other people. Perhaps if youre planning to branch into something like window cleaning it may be beneficial to post them through the letter boxes of the houses around your area or maybe further!
#5 – Social media
Social media is a powerful tool when trying to get yourself out there. Most people already have a personal profile set up. Why not use the contacts that you already have to advertise your services. Ask friends to share it with their friends and try to build your audience that way. Obviously, this won’t suit everybody, but for others it may be the perfect way to get themselves out there!
It may also be a good idea to create company profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This is handy whether applying for work from companies or from the general public.
That’s it! Thanks for reading!
I hope that you have found this blog useful. If you have anything that you believe needs adding to the list, then please, let me know in the comments!