Freelancer cold calling: Best days, best times

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Dr. Freelance: Thanks for your recent post on cold calling for freelancers (and the recommendation for the Well-Fed Writer, which I plan to read). However, I am at a loss as to when it’s best to make the calls. Can can suggest a day of the week as well as time of day that would increase my odds of success?—Warming Up to the Idea

Warming Up: My personal experience has been that early mornings (8-10 a.m.) and midweek (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) are the cold calling best days and times. Mondays are a bust because potential clients are getting their weeks started, and Fridays are no good because their brains are elsewhere—and mine is, too! I like morning calls because I’m a morning person; so, it facilitates connecting with a like-minded soul. [Read more…]

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Client follow-up waiting game

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Dr. Freelance: I have been contacted by a few potential clients who found me on various lists. They asked me if I am interested in taking their proofreading tests but then don’t send the tests to me. How much time do you suggest on client follow-up? Thanks!—Concerned Proofreader

Concerned: Great question, and I have a couple of thoughts. Ideally, client follow-up is something that you define in the initial contact: 1) ask when you can expect to receive the test, 2) when the client would like you to follow up, 3) who the point person is, and 4) when the project deadline is, because you can use that as leverage in the sales process. In general, the sooner you follow up, the better. [Read more…]

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Cold-calling 101 for freelance clients

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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. [Read more…]

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3 reasons you should care about your sales funnel

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Dr. Freelance: I get a decent number of freelance job leads, but I don’t convert enough of them, and the ones that I do tend to be on the lower end of the pay side. (I’ve only been freelancing for a few months, so my portfolio isn’t very deep.) What can I do to up my percentages?—Average Joe

Joe: Here’s where I think freelancers can use a bit of Salesmanship 101. During a stint I did as a sales manager for a magazine, we always talked in terms of the “sales funnel.” The concept dates back to the 1800s, according to this article—AIDA Sales Funnel—but even in the late ’90s it still held credence.

The concept here is pretty self explanatory, but the point is this: Even the best salespeople don’t expect to close every deal! From the sound of it, you’d benefit from more sheer volume of possible freelance jobs–whether you get them from email campaigns, cold calling, or old-fashioned networking.

The increased volume will accomplish three things:

  1. Offer you more raw opportunities
  2. Give you more practice even with those that don’t work out
  3. Provide more choice in which deals you choose to do

Ultimately, the more good clients you have, the more referrals you get–which has the benefit of bypassing the funnel process.

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How many times should I follow up with a potential client?

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Dr. Freelance, I know it’s a fine line between being persistent and being annoying. If I’ve got a warm lead for a potential client or a new freelance gig, how many times is appropriate for following up?—Getting Warmer

Getting Warmer, As with so many aspects of freelancing, the follow up with a potential client is a matter of understanding the prospect’s style as well as her business needs. No one enjoys a hard sell, and I think it’s particularly ill-suited to something like creative services. If you come across as at all desperate, the Universal Law of Need (i.e., the more you need something, the less likely you will get it) comes into play. [Read more…]

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How to cure the new-client jitters

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Dr. Freelance, I’m relatively new to freelancing–I’ve been at it just over a year. I love it once I have an assignment, but I still sort of freak out in a first client meeting. I’m confident in my abilities as a writer and editor, but I’m not sure I’m coming across as professionally as I should. (Actually, I’m sure I’m not.) What can I do to get rid of the new-client jitters?–Sweaty Palms Springs

SPS, I think we all like the concept of having a new client meeting. We’re daydreaming about the interesting projects, future referrals, and, of course, the dollar signs…but sometimes, we load it up psychologically so that we’re too focused on “not blowing it.” (Especially in a lousy economy or when you’re just starting out.) [Read more…]

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