The other day I wrote the post titled Presenting Yourself to a Client: In Person Pt. 1. Today I want to address how you should deal with a client online. First of all take a look at what your website or blog communicates about you as a professional. Is your blog full of cute videos about cats or is it interesting content that will show a prospective client that you have the skills that they are looking for. Make sure that there is a photo of yourself on your website, blog and all social media. This photo should be a nice, clean head shot that looks professional and you should be smiling. You probably should avoid photos of you passed out after a night of partying with friends. Believe it or not I saw that on a Facebook profile of someone advertising for work. Wow. Be honest with yourself, would you hire you based on your website or blog or social media sites? Make sure you have a portfolio of your work or information about your product or services that truly communicates the value of what you are offering. A DYI website is not a good idea if you are not a talented designer, hire a professional and you will increase your sites impact.
Second, develop some email templates that you can use with clients. You may need a few for responding to ads that you come across that advertise for someone with your skills. I have a few including one for graphic design projects, there’s one for general web content and another for writing for blogs. Then I may change them depending on the particular client that I am pitching. I also have templates for responding to clients that contact me through my blog, website, Facebook or Twitter. I have found that by using templates I can easily adjust the information to meet the needs of that particular piece of communication but I maintain a consistent voice throughout all my communications.
Next, be honest about what you can offer. For example on the design side of my business, for the most part, I stay away from web design. Not because I can’t do it but because it is very time consuming and there are other projects that I would rather do. Often I work with another designer friend and I sub-contract the work to her and that works well for me. I work with my clients the way I want someone to work with me first and foremost I LISTEN. A client interview is not all about you. By the time a client emails you they have probably visited your website or blog and have a general idea of what you have to offer. It is now time to find out what they need and who they are. I have noticed that a lot of freelancers need to LISTEN more. Take notes as you talk so that you do not miss any important information that will make your job easier. Do not accept jobs that you think you might be able to do. It’s better to turn down work then to send a project to a client that is shoddy and amateurish.
Here’s a good one that I think is very important. Do your research! Whether you are seeking work or a client is contacting you, if possible research their business before communicating with them. If you do that you will be able to better understand their needs, their mission and you will sound better informed.
PROOFREAD all communication. If you are seeking a writing gig and there are a couple of typos in your email you can probably forget about getting that job. Good grammar and proper spelling says that you are a professional and that you take yourself seriously.
Take yourself seriously. If you call yourself a freelancer than this is your business, it is no longer a hobby. Build your brand and create a professional image for yourself. Every client communication is a chance to market yourself and grow your business. Take advantage of that opportunity. Keep in mind that doors can open for you but they can also close. As a freelancer, at least in the beginning you are often a one man (or woman) show and it is vital that you understand who you are, what you have to offer and that you use that information to communicate to potential clients.
Here are some of my favorite books on freelancing. They are all available on Amazon.
Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business
Amazing websites for freelancers:
Word Count- http://michellerafter.wordpress.com
Pro Blogger- http://www.problogger.net/