If you happen to be like me — and I’m guessing the majority of other freelancers out there are — selling yourself probably doesn’t top your “Stuff I Love to Do” list. I, for one, cringe at the thought of elevator pitches & tooting my own horn. I’d much rather just do my work and leave that door-to-door stuff to someone else. It’s a rough task, particularly for the often introverted pixel-pusher type folks who don’t necessarily care to talk themselves up or pound the e-pavement. After all, didn’t our mothers tell us it wasn’t polite to brag?
Though it might not be your favorite way to spend your time, the truth is that selling yourself is absolutely vital to the success of your freelance career. If you don’t do it, who will? And while your portfolio is a huge part of the package, there’s more to it. Let’s take a look at the three things you need to sell to turn those one-off clients into repeat buyers.
When people throw their hard-earned money down to purchase something, they expect to get something in return. In this case, they’re throwing down their hard-earned money for YOU. Not in a creepy back-alley kind of way, but for your work. Results are what your clients are after. Can the things you create help them grow their business? Can that website you’re pitching to them get more customers through their door? Will that illustration you make for them get people talking? Get a nice portfolio site online and let the world see what you’re capable of. And if it’s not something you would buy, go back to the drawing board. Practice makes perfect.
Let’s face it, many people claim to be able to do what you do (if they only had the software), but the truth is, give them a pencil & pad and they’d likely have a hard time with a stick figure. If someone has reached out to you willing to pay you to carry something out, it’s because they can’t do it themselves — nobody likes to spend money unnecessarily. You’ve got the talent, you’ve had the training, and now your shingle’s hanging out front telling the masses you can do the job. And that job is to make your clients look good, whether in print, online, whatever. The more you believe in your abilities, the more your clients will, too. Time to get that job done.
One thing I’ve learned is that most people think designers are an egocentric lot, looking down their noses scoffingly at those who dare critique their work. While those types of designers are out there, I contend that most of us just want to make our clients happy. If you’re a freelancer, you have to wear many hats — and the need to wear that Customer Service hat is no exception. Nobody’s going to want to work with you if you’re a jerk. Play nice and leave a warm fuzzy feeling behind. Your reputation will precede you (and probably lead to more work).
While there are plenty more factors that comprise the freelance life, these general selling points will get you on your way. If you’re just starting out, what do you think is the hardest part about selling yourself to potential clients?