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Have you been trying to start your own online business for a while, but you’re not getting clients?
You might be thinking, “Oh, the market is saturated,” or “Everyone else has more skills than I do.”
I hate to break it to you, but it could be something you’re doing wrong…
Finding clients for your freelance or service-based business isn’t as easy as creating a website and letting it sit there!
There’s a heck of a lot more to marketing than that. And how you present yourself can have a lot to do with it as well.
Case in point: I recently advertised for an assistant and was shocked by some of the responses I received! Some people didn’t follow my instructions AT ALL. Others told me all about how they needed the money, but nothing about how they could help me.
(By the way, after I waded through all the BAD applicants, I found an awesome assistant, so I’m no longer in the market for one!)
That got me thinking about the number of people out there who have amazing skills, but they’re shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to snagging clients.
Here are 9 reasons you’re not getting clients — and what you can do to fix it!
1. You don’t follow the instructions in the job description.
This one irks me so much!
I spent time crafting a job spec that went into excruciating detail about what I needed from an assistant and what I needed to know about them to be able to make my decision.
What did I get in return?
I got responses like this one:
No details about their work experience. No details about how they can help me. Nothing! Just gimme an interview.
Needless to say, this person didn’t get an interview, but other people who responded with emails they’d put time and effort into did.
Follow the brief!
If the job poster asks you to write “30 Purple Donkeys” in the subject line, do it!
If they ask you to tell them about yourself, to provide them with a quote, or anything else they need to know, do it!
It’s okay if you need more information from them in order to answer their questions. Reply back and ask your questions. The important thing is that they can see you’re a professional who’s interested in helping them solve their problems.
2. You have bad communication skills.
Here’s one rule you definitely don’t want to break as a freelancer:
ALWAYS RESPOND TO EMAIL!
There have been times in my business where I haven’t received a response from people I was interested in working with or I got a half-hearted response several days later.
Was I impressed by that? Nope! Someone else got my business as a result.
Also, don’t forget that you’re probably not the only freelancer they reached out to. Sometimes it’s a first-come, first-served situation.
I once missed out on a proofreading job because I didn’t respond to an email for thirty minutes. A measly thirty minutes!
When you’re in the beginning phase of your business, it pays to keep a close eye on your email account.
Respond to emails within twenty-four hours or set up an automated email response that makes it clear when they can expect a response.
Make sure you have a contact form on your website that’s easy to find or provide another way to contact you. Don’t make them have to work hard to contact you!
3. You’re not marketing your business.
One surefire way to kill your business is by not actively marketing it.
Riddle me this: if nobody knows you exist, how are they going to hire you?
You can’t sit back and wait for work to come to you. You can’t throw up a website and a couple of blog posts, and then expect to get ten inquiries the next day. Not going to happen!
That’s passive marketing, and it’ll only take you so far.
You need to get active, baby!
Create social media accounts on one to two platforms and post on them regularly. Develop a marketing strategy rather than just winging it.
Maintaining an active social media presence builds trust with potential clients. They can get to know you, see how you interact with people, and see what other people you’ve worked with are saying about you.
Start networking! You may also be able to pick up clients at conferences or meetups in your industry.
4. You’re too focused on the money.
It’s all you, you, you!
Truth bomb: your client doesn’t care about you. They only really care about themselves and their problems.
When you respond to job ads or emails from potential clients is your reply centered on what you do or what you need, but not how you can help them? You need to make it clear to your potential client what’s in it for them.
What will they achieve by working with you?
Delving more into the transformation they’ll experience rather than just the features of what you do is a better way to hook them.
Make sure the value of what you’re providing is clear. Rather than just stating what you will do (the features of your offer), explain how this will help them (the benefits of your offer).
For example, if you’re a proofreader, you could say something like “I will fix errors in your social media copy so that you don’t make embarrassing mistakes online.”
5. You’re trying to do too many things.
Are you jumping on every opportunity that presents itself instead of focusing on what you’re actually good at?
I’m all for adding more skills, but you don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.
Figure out what you’re really good at and niche down. Offer a core set of services instead of anything and everything. Clients are looking for people who are experts in their field, not someone who’s okay at a lot of things.
Make your service offering really clear on your website or social media bios.
Use keywords so that you attract your ideal clients:
You’re not just a writer; you’re a fitness copywriter.
You’re not just a proofreader; you’re a fiction proofreader who specializes in romance novels.
6. You’re clinging onto your comfort zone.
Have you been responding to job posts saying that you can’t/won’t/don’t want to do certain parts of the job?
This is the worst!
When your email is oozing with self-doubt and unwillingness from the get-go, it can give the impression that you’re going to be hard to work with.
I get that you might not be confident in your skills yet; that’s totally normal. But how you present yourself is super important. Adopting a fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude will take you a lot further than a perfectionist one.
Instead of saying “I can’t…,” how about saying “I’m a quick learner and I enjoy picking up new skills”?
Learning new skills is something to be proud of, not something you need to hide.
7. You don’t have a portfolio/testimonials.
This one is a tricky one when you’re just starting out.
Clients prefer to hire people who have been recommended to them or who they can see have some glowing recommendations.
So how do you get testimonials or create a portfolio if you’ve never had a client before?
You reach out to your network. Ask past employers to write one for you based on your character or the transferable skills you will be using in your new career.
Be willing to do one or two jobs for free in exchange for a testimonial. For example, if you’re a proofreader, offer to proofread another proofreader’s website for free. It’s a win-win for both of you as they get to make sure that their website is as free from errors as humanly possible, and you get a testimonial from someone who values your skills.
No portfolio? Create your own! You don’t need to have clients to have a portfolio. If you’re a freelance writer, add a blog to your website so people can see your work. Or if you’re a graphic designer, add samples to your website.
Once you get those first couple of testimonials, it will be much easier to get more clients. Not only that, but word of mouth is the best way to get clients.
Lastly, add it to your end-of-project routine to ask for a testimonial from every client.
8. You don’t follow up.
Do you follow up on leads or do you let them go cold so they forget you ever existed?
That’s a big mistake a lot of people make.
Sure, it can feel like you’re pestering them, but sometimes they just got busy and that’s why they haven’t responded to your proposal. Or sometimes they gave the job to the person who did follow up with them…
Make it a policy to follow up one or two times when you don’t hear back from a prospective client.
9. You follow up too much.
Then there’s the opposite problem.
You act like a stalker and send them multiple emails and social media DMs asking why they haven’t responded to your proposal.
You want to avoid being too pushy as it comes across as desperate. Not a good look on anyone!
There comes a time when you need to take the hint and move on.
Follow up two to three days after sending your proposal. This is just a quick check-in to make sure they received your proposal and to see if they have any questions or concerns.
If you still don’t hear from them after that, follow up in another two to three days and ask when they would like to start the project. If they still don’t respond, let it go!
Have you been making any of these mistakes? Not to worry. Now that you’re aware of them, you can overhaul your approach to finding clients and start getting hired!
Still nervous because you just don’t have the skills to get work-at-home jobs yet? My FREE masterclass will show you how to get started!