If there’s one rule that successful freelancers should learn early on in their careers, it is this: always be sending scope of work templates, quotation templates, or proposal templates. Stopping your search for new work opportunities is a bad idea at any point, even if you think you have enough work to feel successful. Because projects can end suddenly, it’s best to keep a steady supply of new clients in the funnel. But how can you go about finding those clients?
While you may think that different types of freelancers have different strategies, most go about it in a strikingly similar manner. Developers, writers, designers, and marketers all use the same methods to grow their client base and keep a steady stream of work opportunities at their fingertips. We spoke to freelancers who are confidently growing their businesses with this proven advice:
You know what they say: “It never hurts to ask.” And, in the case of hitting up those who have been happy with your work, it can pay off big time! Don’t hesitate to keep in touch with clients who have responded warmly to your work and ask for a referral. Getting new business can be as simple as letting them know you’d appreciate them passing along your name to anyone who has a project coming up.
Grant Pardee (writer, producer, and comedian) has used this technique successfully for his own business. Getting work via recommendations from past clients can also be an effective way to get hired for projects without doing a lot of extra pitching or sending cold emails to potential clients. You’re also less likely to have to bid against too many other candidates.
"A lot of times it's recommendations from friends or past clients. That tends to lead to the most success." Grant P / Twitter: @grantpa
Want to sweeten the pot? Some freelancers have even offered referral bonuses for past clients who send new work their way. The amount may vary, but it may be as simple as discounting future orders by 5-10% for each new major contract they refer.
If there’s ever a time to get out into the world and meet people face-to-face, it’s when you work virtually. Networking in person is something many remote workers and freelancers struggle with, so it’s no surprise that those who do it will have an advantage! Conferences, small business meet-ups, and conventions are the best opportunities to do this.
Remember that you are there to meet a need, so don’t lead with your sales pitch. Get to know the people around you, understand their pain points, and seek to solve their problems. If you can convince them that you are there to make their life easier, the job will be yours! Bring plenty of business cards and a listening ear.
Not going anywhere soon? Don’t discount the value of online networking. Will Hawkins is a digital marketing professional who has made LinkedIn and Facebook work for him in getting new freelance clients. Update your bio and statuses with samples of your work and upcoming projects for maximum results!
"Make the most of your social media accounts such as LinkedIn and Facebook. I update my status not with 'sales messages' but with the results of my work. That might be a new website, article on my blog, or photo of an something on show."Will H. / Twitter: @whawkins
Remember, what you get out of social largely depends on what you put in. Don’t just talk; observe. Set up keyword searches for people who may need your services. Answer their questions, and establish yourself as an expert. Your social media profile should direct them to a portfolio of your work and more information on your services, should they seek it.
"Pay attention to your portfolio, this is key. Share your work on social media and also Behance if you're a designer."Andrew Marriott / Twitter: @thelogocreative
Sometimes, there is no better way to earn a new client’s business than by proving you’re the best. A well-written case study can provide this proof and become a powerful tool in your selling arsenal. Freelance designers like Pablo Massa have used them to get new clients. (You should, too!)
Need help putting one together? These tips for creating a killer case study can help. You should be able to clearly community how you took the client from point A to point B, solved a problem, and showed proven results. Client testimonials and direct quotes will make it even more compelling!
(Note: Case studies can be a challenge for those who are not writers or marketers. It’s a worthwhile purchase to hire this task out, if you’re not confident in your own abilities. Consider it an investment in your business.).
If you're new to freelancing and struggling to get your first clients, working for free with high caliber clients might help you secure your first paid gig. However, be careful when choosing who you work with, or learn how to deal with difficult clients in advance. You can also use a live chat on your website using a Zendesk chat alternative like Gorgias.
"I did a lot of guest blogging, and many of those guest pieces turned into ongoing paid blogging gigs."Ali Luke / Twitter: @aliventures
While every potential new client will have unique needs, you don’t have to recreate the wheel every time you apply for or bid on a job. In fact, there is a lot of value in having a template for many of the redundant parts of finding new work. You can start by having custom cover letters for each type of work you might do, then tweaking them slightly to be different for each job.
Grant Pardee believes in streamlining, as well. While he is continually looking for work on different freelance job boards, he makes the process simple by making sure to keep his portfolio and resume up-to-date so that sending applications is quick and easy.
All the freelancers we interviewed agreed on one thing: Building a community of trusted friends, colleagues, and clients is important. You will likely be back in contact with most everyone you have worked with at some point. Developing relationships and nurturing connections is a sure-fire way to never run out of clients – or work – again. Use Bonsai to manage your business, draft proposal, contracts and invoices - sign up for a free trial today.
What are some of your best strategies for finding and landing new work?
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?