One time I sent my CV to a prospective client.
Let that sink in a moment.
They weren’t looking for a full-time employee, they wanted a freelancer to help them cope with extra work. So by sending my CV, I set myself up for failure. Not surprising, I didn’t get the gig, but it was a useful learning experience.
What I’m trying to say is that I haven’t always known how to apply for freelance jobs. And I’m obviously still learning as I go.
When thinking about how to apply for freelance jobs, you have to put yourself in the place of the client. First, you have to identify the problem they have, and then you have to show how you can solve it. Remember, any when applying for freelance jobs, the focus should be on the client, not you.
Step one: Identifying the problem
Companies usually head down the freelancer route because they want someone highly specialised and able to solve a problem without supervision. Maybe they want a company blog and no one in-house has the time to write it. Or there’s a problem with the website and they need a developer to fix it. Or they aren’t getting enough website visitors and they need a marketer to help boost their visibility.
Everyone struggles to write a brief for a gig or a project, so it’s down to you to read between the lines. What is the one problem that presents itself in the brief? And how can you solve that problem?
Step two: Show how you can solve it
Never assume that they don’t have the skills to do these things themselves. Rather, assume they are time-poor and just want someone else to take care of it. In the simplest way possible, show them how you have the skills they need to complete the project.
Draw on your experience, but don’t waste their time taking them through your entire work history. Pick out the projects and skills that are most relevant to them and ignore the rest. Direct them to your portfolio or testimonials
Step three: Tailor it to the client
You can find out a lot about a client from where they look for freelancers. Those on PeoplePerHour and similar sites are looking for a quick solution to their problem. They want security, which is why they are using a platform that will protect them in the event a freelancer doesn’t deliver.
If they offer a short and to-the-point brief, don’t waste your time with a long pitch. They want to know the facts. They want to know that you understand their company and their needs and that you can deliver on time and on budget.
If a client approaches you on the back of a recommendation, you can assume you don’t need to spend time building their trust. Someone has already vouched for you, so focus on demonstrating how you can bring value to their company.
And finally, if you’re pitching for a large project with a company you have no history with, feel free to bring out the big guns. A full proposal with details about your past work would be completely appropriate in this scenario.
Step four: Don’t shy away from money talk
You’re not doing them a favour, you’re doing your job, so don’t be afraid to be upfront with your expectations. There’s nothing worse than getting three weeks deep into a conversation with a potential client before finding out they can’t afford you. Clients will always try to nudge your fee down, so go in a little higher to give yourself room to manoeuvre.
Step five: Follow up
Don’t assume that a client isn’t interested because they don’t get back to you. We all miss emails and forget to get back to people, particularly when we’re busy. Follow up a few days after you send your initial email and then again a week after that. Don’t badger them into submission, but make it clear that you’re a professional and that you would appreciate a response.