5 tips to win new customers for independent experts

Freelancers have to be able to find new contacts, bounce back once a contract has ended and maintain their current clients in order to sustain their business. By working on brand image and visibility, adopting a flexible attitude with clients, keeping a close eye on your rates and seeking to extend your network, you have a well thought-out and effective strategy for developing your customer base.

Promote your personal branding

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need something that makes you memorable! Rather than using a standard CV, try telling a story and painting a picture of your experiences. This way you can inject your personality into your professional journey (always respecting boundaries of course).  And naturally you should exclude some experiences to ensure you focus on what’s most relevant. You can also talk about your personal projects if it’s appropriate and fits with your journey: a world tour, a humanitarian mission, a sporting challenge, writing a book, renovating a house, etc. The idea is that people see who you are and how you operate.

You can adapt what you say to suit your prospective client, picking out what you feel they’re most interested in. In all cases, be true to yourself and don’t make things up to reel in a client. Better to lose out on a job by being honest, than to start down the slippery slope of lies and falsehoods.

Your authenticity will ensure you click with your client and work together harmoniously.

Invest in visibility

When you’re self-employed, you need a strong online presence. Whether on your own website, on social networks or freelance platforms, think very carefully about the key words used to define you: To be at the forefront, you need to choose the same words as those searched for by potential clients browsing the Net. Some words are generic and popular, others are more specific; use synonyms too and avoid restrictive or little-known terms… Check out what your competitors do… Finding the right key words takes time and consideration but is essential in the long run.

Another effective way of boosting your visibility is to list client reviews following your services. All content and comments are useful to make you stand out from the rest. What’s more, client reviews bolster your credentials and can help to convince a potential customer of your worth. If you want to give them more weight, then opt for a client review checking system. The platform approaches your clients for their reviews and authenticates them using the ISO standard applicable to this type of activity.

Finally, you could also produce content that enhances your standing and renown. Whether that’s publishing articles, hosting a webinar, or producing podcasts or videos, it’s additional content that increases your visibility. The secondary effect—not to be sniffed at—is that this positions you, in the eyes of your public, as an expert. You can thus be identified and that’s great for your credibility.

Be reactive and flexible

In a fast-paced, hyper-connected society, reactivity is a prerequisite. It’s essential to respond quickly to your clients or prospects. Clients are no longer prepared to wait, and if they don’t hear from you within 48 hours, your potential customers may simply try someone else. However, don’t respond too quickly either! You don’t want your client to think you have nothing to do, nor do you want to keep breaking off from your work. It’s all a question of timing, but setting aside time once or twice a day to answer enquiries is a good habit to get into.

Along the same lines, but without giving in to all your client’s whims, show that you can be accommodating when required. Shortening deadlines can be stressful if you do it all the time, but occasionally it’s fine. Similarly, if, as an exception, the client needs to meet up later than you’d like, you could agree in order to help them out.

You set your own limits, but relaxing them occasionally is a good thing.

Being flexible also means coming out of your comfort zone to tackle areas or tasks that you’re less familiar with, and work with new types of clients. We often have preferences and favourites, but when you’re working for yourself, it’s essential to be open to different things. Any new experience adds value, whether in terms of skills or networking.

Watch your rates

For most freelancers it can be tricky to set your rates. Sometimes, when you first start out, you pitch below the market price and sell yourself short, hoping that low rates will attract clients. In fact, the opposite is true. Rates that are too low devalue your work and risk arousing mistrust. It’s true that price is important to clients, but they’re also looking for quality. Offering prices that are too low will make them doubt the quality of your work.

Think about what’s a good price for you, based on your experience, the content of the project, the time required, the energy invested and so on.

And don’t forget that your prices don’t have to be fixed. If a client places a considerable volume of work with you, or your contribution becomes more regular, that could be the occasion to modify your offer and propose packages or preferential rates for example.

Network, network, network…

Once you’re working for yourself, networking becomes essential and is something that should be grown. A great way to do this is to join a group of freelancers or entrepreneurs. You’ll meet people, swap tips and advice, discuss problems, gain knowledge through workshops. But most of all you’ll have a better understanding of yourself and others, leading to recommendations. These networks operate on the principle of reciprocity: You recommend people, so that they recommend you and everyone’s opportunities multiply.

Another idea, especially if you feel somewhat isolated working on your own, is to operate out of a co-working space. A shared office promotes meetings and discussions, and boosts productivity and creativity. It’s another way of being part of a community and helping each other to win business.

And finally, of course, an optimised LinkedIn profile is a must. Your profile should be as informative as possible. Don’t be afraid to include what interests and motivates you, and highlight any significant projects.

You could also consider publishing or sharing content to raise your visibility, then reacting to and commenting on what’s posted on your network. It’s a good thing to do and it maintains the link.