Dear Dr. Freelance: I’m going to bite the bullet and start cold calling for new freelance clients. I’m not scared, per se, but wondering if you have some cold-calling 101 tips for a beginner.—Cold Play
Dear Cold Play: First of all, good for you. I think you’ll find that it’s not as hard as you’d think and more effective than you can imagine at securing new freelance gigs. My primary recommendation is to pick up a copy of Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer, which has an easy-to-follow approach that I used myself when things slowed down for me in Year 2 of my own freelancing career.
More generally, these are the cold-calling 101 principles I’d keep in mind as you embark on your cold-calling adventure:
- Invest in a good headset—it’ll help you avoid a trip to the chiropractor, plus it allows you to type and talk.
- Compile plenty of names and numbers—whether it’s your town’s “Book of Lists” or the Yellow Pages, an endless supply will keep you from assuming that each call is sacred. (And Excel is your friend for tracking follow-up actions and taking notes.)
- Don’t take bad calls personally—if someone is nasty to you, just be glad they’re not a client.
- Change up your spiel and take frequent breaks—as soon as you start to sound robotic, your effectiveness will plummet.
- Reward success—if you’ve managed secure a few new client meetings before noon, take the rest of the day off.