The world is full of very talented creatives. As the owner of a branding and digital boutique agency, I’ve had the privilege to collaborate with an array of dope freelancers who’ve helped me bring my client projects into fruition. As an entrepreneur, collaboration is key (more on that in an upcoming post).
So you’ve got talent and you’re thinking that you’re ready to go full-time as a freelancer or even incorporating a business? First and foremost, congrats on making this huge decision!
Here are 5 tips that will get you going:
If you want to be taken seriously and want to attract clients, you have to have a brand. A brand is a combination of a visual identity as well as words and content that supports what you are trying to offer. I wrote a post on naming your business here, but that’s only one part of developing your brand. You need a logo, a site, a vision, clear objectives and service offering, a social media presence, a media kit that can easily be sent to prospective clients that gives them the who, what, where, when, how on your business and your past work, and you’ll also need a business card (yup, people still ask for those). When I first started my business, I worked on all of that months prior so that when I was ready to launch, I looked prepared, I had something to show and I could attract the high-level clients I was seeking.
When you get a client inquiry, the first thing you need to do is understand what they are really asking for. This can be done over the phone via a conversation or an in-person consultation/meeting. I suggest you keep these to no more than 30 minutes, since you’re not being paid for this and there is no guarantee that it will actually equal to work. Your time is money and you have to be smart in terms of how you allocate it. Trust me on this one, I learned the hard way.
Once the initial consultation has been done and the client is now asking you for a proposal, have a general proposal template that you can use and tweak with the details of what you are proposing to your client. In my proposal template I include:
- A Context – As I understand it
- Objectives – What they are trying to do
- A light Situation Analysis (SWOT- Strengths / Weaknesses / Opportunities / Threats)
- Target Audiences / Market – Who are they trying to attract
- Deliverables – What my company is proposing to do in order to reach their objectives
- Budget – How much it will cost them to hire my agency to do this
Sometimes, a client may ask you only for a quote, not a proposal, you should have a template ready for that as well. The quote gives a high-level view of how many hours you project it will take you to do what is being asked.
Once you get the work, you need a contract with your client. You don’t want there to be any issues regarding what you’ve been hired to do or payment. Get them to sign that and send you a deposit PRIOR to starting anything.
Finally, if you’re planning to work with any internal or external collaborators, you’ll need to provide them with a brief, which has to be approved by your client, and gives the overall scope of the project and exactly what you need them to do, with deadlines.
These are just some of the templates you’ll need to get going, there are more and some may be industry specific as well, so make sure you do your research.
I’m often asked for referrals and the number one question I get is “Does this person respect deadlines?” and sadly, more often than not, they don’t. Don’t promise you can have something ready when you know you cannot. It’s your reputation at stake, and reputation as an entrepreneur is EVERYTHING. If you can’t deliver, communicate with your client, no need to go silent night on them, no one has time to play hide and seek, it’s disrespectful and you’ll never be hired by them again or anyone in their network either. People talk and news travels faster than a speeding bullet. Now, if the client is willing to pay a rush fee to ensure that said work is given before the date you’ve projected and you can mobilise your team or collaborators to do it with that premium, then that’s a different story.
Now, this is a huge one. I recently had a situation where a client hired a graphic designer I had never worked with to do some logo work for them. The client even paid a premium to have the logo ready faster. The designer disappeared and wouldn’t respond to our emails or calls. When he did reemerge, he made up an excuse that the work was sitting in his outbox and he wasn’t sure why (lies), when we finally received the work (late, I might add), the designer sent a piece of paper with a hand drawn logo, took a photo of it on his phone and presented that to my client. Yes, you read this correctly, he scanned a piece of a hand drawn design. I wish I could tell you that this lack of professionalism was an isolated incident but it isn’t. I am on a regular basis running after photographers, content writers, coders, videographers that have been paid for the work to get the said work. Having talent is great, but there are tons and tons of people who do. What makes the difference with clients wanting to hire x or y or z is professionalism and reputation. Be very mindful of that – it can make or break your business.
It’s more than ok to ask for help, it can seriously get overwhelming. Make a list of other freelancers you know who have complimentary expertise and can help you get the work done. You are only as strong as the people you surround yourself with and make sure that people you choose to collaborate with on your client projects have the same work ethics as you do or it won’t work.
Have any other tips? Would love to know!