What do clients want when they look to hire a Freelance contractor? On a conscious level they know that a job must be done and that the time and/or expertise to do the job does not reside within the organization and so outside help must be brought in. They know certain deliverables must be produced within a particular time frame and they know what can be spent to achieve their objectives. But what makes a client hire one Freelancer over others who may be interviewed? What is the secret sauce that can make you be The One?
Be creative, perceptive and adaptable
During the first meeting, First Class Freelancers can quickly and accurately assess client needs. Failing that, s/he will know the right questions to ask that draw out and clarify objectives and priorities. The First Class Freelancer will know whether and how their own skill set will match with client needs and will be able to articulate that assessment in language that is readily understood. As a result, trust and confidence in your abilities are quickly established and the foundation for rapport-building and a productive working relationship is set.
An experienced pro
If you nail Step One, the client will know that you have the goods to meet and very likely exceed expectations and that there is no doubt that you will get the job done and make him/her look good to both superiors and subordinates. First Class Freelancers let it be known through their grasp of the client’s big picture needs that the ROI of bringing them in will be substantial. Deadlines will be met and work will be of the highest quality. This allows the first class crew to command premium prices and the client doesn’t quibble, because his/her reputation is about to be enhanced. If necessary, s/he’ll go to bat for you and get more money appropriated for the project to cover your fee.
Operate like a business
Be highly professional in client interactions and all forms of business communication. Follow-up promptly, invoice at the appropriate times and write good proposals (that are really confirmations, because you’ve impressed the decision-maker and pretty much know you’ll win the contract). Present yourself as an equal and a peer, but respect boundaries and remember that you have a green card but you’re not a citizen. Radiate confidence and success (but never smugness or arrogance). Create the impression that although times are tough, you have a viable client roster because you have credibility and competence.
After you’ve been out on your own for a while and identified the types of projects that you like and the types of clients that tend to hire you, carve out a specialty niche where you can excel. Resist the temptation to take any and every project that comes your way (unless the cupboard is bare). Develop the corresponding verbal packaging that will be your business introduction and elevator pitch, as well as online and print collaterals that effectively represent and communicate your brand.
It’s during contract negotiation that your prospective client will know what you think your time and talent are worth, how experienced you really are and the prestige level of the projects you’ve previously worked on. If you accept the first offer that’s given and consequently sign for noticeably less than expected, they’ll know you’re wet behind the ears or you’ve only done low-budget projects. They’ll know you’re not in the big-time. This information will also be telegraphed if you fail to discuss payment terms during contract negotiations and ask for some percentage of up-front money before you start work.
Get busy and write yourself a fist class ticket so you can get paid to travel in style!
Thanks for reading,