6-1. Getting Clients

The successful freelance graphic designer knows how to land new business.

Acquisitions, mergers, downsizing, death, divorce, retirement, business failures, personnel changes and economic shifts can and will affect your freelance design business. From time to time, it will be necessary to replace no-longer-profitable clients with fresh, vital clients who have a large and immediate need for your services.

I don’t know how it is for you, but when it comes to finding clients, speed is very important to me. I don’t want to rely on a client-finding system that may take six months or longer to kick in.

There are only two basic sales models:

1) HUNTING. This is where YOU go out and get the client. Hunting is as fast and as direct as it gets, and this is the model I will describe for you in this workshop. I like it for all the things you don’t have to do: There are no referral relationships to preserve, no finders fees, no 7 a.m. networking meetings to attend, no “good ‘ol boy” relationships to honor; it does not require months of conscientious follow-up letters, no expensive promo packages, and no reason to remember anybody’s name for longer than 30 seconds — unless you prepare a proposal for them. Now THOSE are some tangible benefits! You can use hunting as an adjunct to your already-successful sales efforts, or you can use it exclusively. This sales technique can completely change your financial landscape and client base in about 30 days.

2) FISHING. Also known as “relationship selling.” This model depends on you being able to spread enough of the right bait in the right places for a long enough period of time to attract clients to you. It works, but not nearly as fast or as predictably as HUNTING.

It has been said that “You control your business or your business will control you.” This is especially true in freelance. Unless you can take charge of your workflow, you will forever be bouncing back and forth between too much work and no work at all. I haven’t found a sales system that allows you to turn client flow on and off like a water faucet, but the next few workshops describe in detail the next best thing, and it is the best way to get new clients that I have ever used. Even better, it is the most effective one that I have ever taught. You don’t have to possess superstar sales ability to make it work for you. You don’t have to like sales or even pretend to be in a good mood, at least on the front end, when you are doing it — it still works.

Take Charge
In order to get my design business off the ground back in the late 70s, I was a hunter. As I developed relationships, added employees and grew my business, I became a fisherman. When I went back to “pure” freelancing in the early 90s, I worked hard to develop a sales strategy that was fast, cost effective and, above all, predictable. I knew exactly what I was looking for as a freelancer, and the hunter model fit me perfectly. Here’s why: I don’t regard my freelance business as a more complicated version of a nine-to-five job, and neither should you. Freelancing is and can be tremendously rewarding on a variety of levels. When you are successful at it, your choices in life multiply.

YES, you can work when you want. Days have 24 hours in them, not just eight. If you do your best work between 3 a.m. and mid-morning, DO IT! If that’s the schedule you like, there is no reason for you to pretend to look busy in the afternoons. If you want to work like a demon 24 hours a day for three months straight, freelancing has no company rules prohibiting you from doing so. On the other hand, if you want to close shop for 30-60 days and devote time to family, hobbies or travel, you can do that, too.

One of the most important keys to this lifestyle is making sure that you have the skills to QUICKLY land new business. Once you have those, a nine-to-five job will seem like a very poor substitute for security.

Are you ready to learn how to land new business? Let’s go…!

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2 Responses to “6-1. Getting Clients”

  1. RichNo Gravatar says:

    Dan, another great read.

  2. Mark CampbellNo Gravatar says:

    I’m already excited and I haven’t even finish the reading. I’ve been back an forward with the freelance process for a while I think I have been wrestling with hunter and fisherman and already I have clarity.

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