At last, Summer is officially here. Bright sunshine and abundant flowers do wonders for my mood, yet the season does my wallet no favors. Clients wrap up projects by June 30 and teaching opportunities grow scarce. When it comes to paying bills, well…..But rather than grind my teeth, I’ve learned that it is far more productive to make use of the down time. Two activities headline my Summer to-do list:
1. Professional development: Sign up for a course or webinar, attend a symposium, read a business book or two
2. Position myself to make more money: Examine my client list, marketing strategies and pricing structure and figure out which of those factors needs tweaking. Meet with a prospect I’ve had my eye on over the past few months.
If you’ve been trying to meet up with a certain prospect, Summer is usually the time to try to get to him/her, because so many of us are less busy at this time of year. Do what you can to make contact with that person. If you have identified this person as a good prospect but you haven’t met, you may know or surmise where he/she goes for business networking. Get on the list and get your body in the door. If possible, recruit someone who commands respect to make an introduction, so you will have a good endorsement and look more trustworthy. If you’ve already made contact, ring up your prospect and schedule lunch or coffee. People are often more relaxed in Summer, so you’re likely to have your best opportunity to build a relationship that leads to doing business.
While you’re thinking about prospective clients, revisit your marketing strategy and confirm that you are reaching those who have both motive and money to hire you. The essence of your marketing strategy is to know how to portray yourself favorably to the clients on your wish list. That sounds so obvious it’s ridiculous, but many Freelancers do not know who has the greatest potential to become their best clients or how to make themselves known to those in that group. According to the 2012 Freelance Industry Report, only 28% of Freelancers who spend less than 2 hours/week on marketing bill at $70.00 + per hour, while 41% of Freelancers who spend 20+ hours/week on marketing bill at $70.00 + per hour.
Considering that a 2010 survey by the Freelancers Union revealed that 29% of Freelance consultants earned less than $25,000.00 a year and 58% earned less than $50.000.00 a year, one can assume that not many are billing at $70.00 + per hour and if they are, they’re receiving rather few hours. Therefore, consistently spending even two hours/week on marketing can reap tangible benefits, since it has been demonstrated to have a direct correlation to your billable hourly rate, if not the number of hours one is able to bill out. (I wonder who has 20 hours/week to spend on marketing? )
Furthermore the busier you become, the less attractive it is to keep low-paying and/or difficult clients on your roster, because you will be unable to afford to keep them there. Scarce time will also make you feel confident enough to ask current clients for a price increase as well. Make time to do more marketing by dropping any difficult or low-rent clients and use that space to perfect and execute your marketing strategy.
To give yourself some inspiration check out free webinars, if you’re unable to afford a course or a conference. Those of you with teaching or speaking experience might even be invited to become a presenter. I presented the webinar “A Business Plan for Your Nonprofit” on April 24 through Nonprofit Webinars http://nonprofitwebinars.com/past_webinars/a-business-plan-for-your-nonprofit . Marketing strategies will be different for every category of service, but robust marketing must be on the calendar of every Freelancer if we expect to connect with clients who are willing to pay us what we are worth.
Thanks for reading. Have a happy 4th of July holiday.