I was recently conducting one of my regular Portfolio Bootcamps, when I was asked about how do I get my clients. I've been fortunate enough in the last year or so to not have to worry about this, but making sure you always have work coming in is a concern for everyone at some point.
It occurred to me that what would I do if I wasn't getting enquiries for my services, how would I go about securing more clients?
Making a start
If you are going to be successful at securing more clients, you need to go into the pursuit with an open mind and be fully prepared for expending lots of time and effort and not always getting anything in return.
Essentially you will be doing spec work, for which you won't get paid and have no guarantee of getting any work at the end of it. You will have to look at it as a learning experience and write it off as time spent investing in the future of you and your business.
It's a case of the more spec jobs you embark on, the greater chance you have of securing more clients and by using my Sweet Spot method, you'll get a very high conversion rate.
Deciding on a game plan
My approach can be applied to any industry, for any job, all it takes is a little bit of planning before you start.
- Who you want to work with?
- What skills do you have to offer?
- How can you help the client?
1) Who do you want to work with?
This could be a local or international one depending on the industry you work in. If you are a Chef for example, then it will have to be close to where you live, but if you are a designer the client could be located anywhere.
It is easier to start local as it's easier to meet them and win them over in person, but if you more comfortable working with international clients over Skype, then go with what suits you best.
The key is to take advantage of the situation and pick a client from an industry you are passionate about, as you have the luxury of choosing who you want to work with.
2) What Skills do you have to offer?
Again you are in a position to choose who you want to work with and what work you want to do for them. For example, as a designer you can choose something that not only that you are good at, but are passionate about.
However this choice can't be too niche as it has to be balanced by the fact that you need new clients. So maybe offering logo design coffeshops, restaurants and bakeries would be a better option than offering handlettered menu design for just artisan coffeeshops.
3) How can you help the client?
This is crucial. You need to determine what the client will value - only be working this out can you find the Sweet Spot where your skills meet what the client values. This could be a new logo, improved functionality for their website, new content for their blog etc.
Finding that sweet spot
Take your time to work out what you could improve in a way that is quick to do and relatively inexpensive for them to implement. Although you could suggest an improvement, actions speak louder than words. Be prepared to make that change, to design that logo, to build that website, write that article.
Show them just how good you are and why they would be foolish not to work with you right away. Once you can demonstrate your skill level and they can see the value in, it opens up the conversation for possibly working together.
Being realistic about the outcome
Ideally they want to start working with you right away, but they are probably currently working with someone who you are going to replace, so it is unlikely that they will be able to hire you straight away.
The good news is that you have started a dialogue and are building a relationship between the two of you. This gives you the opportunity to stay in touch and continue to offer value through sharing articles, suggestions and advice. This is crucial as it keeps you top of mind so that when they're ready to part ways with their current Designer or Content Writer they will come straight to you.
An example of How this approach has worked for me
I actually did this to get one of my favourite clients, Comedian Pete Correale. I was a always a big fan of Pete after discovering his podcast, so when I learned that he has a new TV Special coming out, I went to his website. It was a shocker, very old fashioned and barely worked on a mobile phone.
I knew that he would want to sell tickets to gigs and DVD's as well as keep fans updated with news and stand up dates. His current site was getting in the way and so this was where I could offer him value.
The Sweet Spot was use my design skills to create a stylish, mobile optimised website that would allow his fans to stay in touch and buy his tickets and products.
So I decided to create a new one for him using Squarespace. Fortunately you get a free two week trial with Squarespace so I spent a weekend creating a whole new site for him.
He was blown away and so impressed by this gesture that he chose to work with me straight away. Since then we've become good friends and he's great to work with. None of this would've come about if I didn't reach out to him with a Sweet Spot Solution that was a valuable to him that also allowed me to showcase my skills.
Sweet Spot Worksheet
I've designed a worksheet to help you find your Sweet Spot. Download it by clicking on the link below: