We all want to work with clients that pay well, and just as importantly, who we enjoy working with. But how do we make sure that these are the clients that we end up working with? As a freelancer you do get to choose who you work with, and if you are deliberate about these choices, you can focus your efforts on the clients that pay well and are a joy to work with. Here are four crucial strategies to make this happen.
Find clients with important projects
It’s easy to believe that the amount of money that a client is willing to pay for your work should be directly proportional to how skilled and experienced you are. That’s how employees are hired right?
But that’s not what determines how much a client is willing to pay. Yes they will want to hire the best possible freelancer that they can afford, and yes that means your portfolio and references matter.
But what they are willing to pay in the first place is based entirely on how much return they can expect on their investment. If the work that they are hiring you to do is important to their business and will create or save a lot of money, that’s a client that can and probably will be willing to pay high rates.
For example the owner of an ecommerce store bringing in several million in sales per year will happily pay you a fair bit if your services can increase sales even just by 10% because that can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in new business. But a store that barely sells brings in $100,000 per year to begin with will be willing to pay far less for the exact same 10% increase.
It’s not personal, it’s math.
Make it easy for your clients to understand how to work with you
Do you consistently find that clients don’t seem to respect work boundaries? Before writing them off as unreasonable, make sure that every new client receives a clear idea of how to work with you.
Your clients are probably used to how things work in the corporate environment, such as receiving nearly instant email replies or being able to pop in at anytime and ask how things are going.
But as you know, that’s not the best way to work together. And you can educate your client to be amazing by taking charge and providing clear information on exactly how you will work together, the means through which you will communicate, your typical response time, and so on.
Even better, make sure that they are always up-to-date up on the project status and know the next steps. A weekly progress update email on Friday goes a very long way to preventing a lot of well-intentioned questions throughout the week.
Turn your existing great client relationships into deeper engagements
If you already have clients that you love working with, why not keep working with them?
It can be very tempting to believe that we have to constantly be searching for new clients. But often times the best clients are the ones that you already know that you enjoy working with and who are already paying the rates that you are happy with.
Before searching for yet another new client, take some time to understand the needs of your existing clients. What are they trying to solve in their business? How can the work that you’ve done already deliver even better results?
There may be plenty of other ways that you can help those clients, but it’s often on you to take the time to understand their needs and recommend great solutions. That’s a more profitable and safer approach compared to using that time to seek out new potential clients.
Accept work that is a great fit, turn down work that is a poor fit
The best thing you can do for yourself is to understand ahead of time what makes a great client for you. What do you need to be charging? What kind of work do you want to be doing? How much control do you require over your work hours? Is being able to communicate over email instead of phone important to you?
Remember that problems on a project come from saying yes to that project, and never from turning it down.
For example if you don’t like tight deadlines and constant client communication, it’s probably not a great idea to take on a critical project that has a deadline in 3 days.
It can take practice and willpower to learn to say no, but by doing so, you free up your time to find and work on the project that you are ecstatic to be able to take on.
Matt Inglot is the host and founder of Freelance Transformation and the owner of an 11 year old micro agency. Visit https://freelancetransformation.com for a guide on how to consistently win great freelancing clients.
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