Have you ever tried to converse with someone with whom you don’t share a common language? It can be an amusing experience under the right circumstances, with hand gestures often serving as a great ice breaker. However, if neither party has the words to express themselves adequately, the situation can quickly turn frustrating.
This scenario is not uncommon in the world of freelance design. Freelance designers have a reputation for sending mixed messages to potential clients. They either aim to reach too broad an audience or they haven’t studied their market sufficiently to understand what their ideal clients want to hear.
In this article, we will explore three ways in which freelance designers often miss the mark when trying to attract new clients. More importantly, we will discuss how they can correct their course and start speaking the language.
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1. Leaving Former Clients in the Cold
It’s a given that problematic clients – those who vanish without settling their bills, or who are so difficult that you’re compelled to terminate their project prematurely – should be permanently removed from your contact list.
If the initial experience with a client was that dreadful, there’s typically no justification for reaching out to them again, unless it’s to recover payment, but that’s a subject for another discussion.
However, what about your commendable clients? Those who were amicable and courteous? The ones who had a clear vision of what they wanted and entrusted you to deliver it? The clients who were prompt with their payments and continue to sing praises of your work? They’ve provided you with an excellent testimonial and a couple of referrals, culminating in a satisfying conclusion for all parties involved.
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The completion of a project often brings a sense of accomplishment, but it can also be tinged with a hint of regret at the prospect of losing touch with a valued client. This sentiment is entirely understandable and, in fact, it underscores a crucial aspect of professional growth – the importance of maintaining connections.
Keeping in touch with past clients might seem like a daunting task, particularly if they don’t have immediate work for you. However, this practice is instrumental in expanding your network and ensuring a steady stream of clients, thereby eliminating the need for constant client hunting.
A simple strategy to stay connected is to send a brief email every quarter. This email could serve as an update on your recent projects, reminding past clients of your capabilities and keeping you fresh in their minds.
Consider this scenario: A former client needs design work done or knows someone who does, even if it’s years from now. Who do you think they are more likely to recommend – the designer who consistently stayed in touch, or the one who disappeared without a trace? The answer is evident.
In conclusion, never underestimate the power of maintaining professional relationships. It’s an investment that can yield significant returns in the long run.
2. The Importance of a Consistent Call to Action
We all know the benefits of having a strong call to action on your design website. More and more designers have jumped on this bandwagon in recent years, with excellent results. They’re pulling in more business with better quality clients who are clear about what they’re looking for.
However, a lot of designers don’t consider where else a call to action might serve them. You might be thinking “Huh? Where else is there to place a call to action except on my website?”
The answer is: pretty much everywhere you put your name.
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Constantly Market Yourself
Got a print portfolio or mailer? Perfect place for an engaging question or two. Business cards? Don’t just list your contact info – tell people to give you a call. If you have a design blog or Facebook page, provide information that’s useful to potential clients, and make sure you encourage them to join your mailing list.
Your calls to action across your marketing materials should all be streamlined for one particular purpose. Only you know what that purpose is, but whatever it is, it’s important that you keep it consistent and clear. Perhaps you’re on the hunt for new clients.
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3. Authenticity in Writing
It may sound cliche, but one of the significant ways freelance designers miss out on potential jobs is by adopting a writing style they believe is more “businesslike”, thereby sacrificing their unique personalities. If you are naturally a more formal individual, then by all means, let that shine through in your marketing and promotional efforts.
However, if you’re like most of us, it’s unlikely that phrases such as “dynamic imperatives” and “synergetic user experience” are part of your everyday vocabulary.
Tone it Down
A classic guideline to follow is this: if you wouldn’t say it out loud, you probably shouldn’t write it either. Remember, you are a human being trying to connect with other human beings. Avoid formal greetings like “To Whom It May Concern” or the dreaded “Dear Sir or Madam”. It’s crucial to communicate with people the way you’d want them to communicate with you.
Imagine if your favorite online retailer bombarded you with a barrage of big, pretentious words in an attempt to persuade you to make a purchase. Chances are, you’d be more inclined to run away than to reach for your credit card. Potential clients feel the same way. They don’t want to have to consult a dictionary just to understand your “about” page.
When in doubt, always opt for what sounds natural to you. This approach will help you connect with more people almost all of the time.
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Marketing yourself as a freelance designer is a full-time endeavor that necessitates a blend of creativity and a substantial amount of human touch. It’s crucial to communicate in a language that resonates with your potential clients. If you fail to do so, you risk being overlooked, often without even realizing that potential clients were present.
Addressing the gaps in your marketing strategy is of utmost importance. The sooner you mend these, the quicker you’ll start attracting a higher quantity and quality of design clients.