As a relatively new freelancer, your primary job is finding and converting clients. It can seem fun to do things like setting up a website, building profiles on industry association sites or creating a social media presence, but the truth is if none of these things are helping to move the needle towards converting your freelance clients, you need to have a plan in place to up your marketing game.
One of the most common things that comes up in coaching calls with the freelancers I work with is a concern over not having enough business. My first question to them is always the same: How much marketing are you doing?
The answer is usually a quietly-stated, “Well I send out one or two pitches a week” or, “I scan Upwork for hours every day.” This is not a winning marketing plan if the those pitches are not landing.
Is there a magic number for pitching?
So many freelancers want to know the magic number for what it takes to get them to their ideal business. But the truth is that partially or fully booked looks different for everyone, so you need to determine what that looks like for you and then reverse engineer it to select a marketing plan.
As a baseline, I always recommend that new freelancers plan to spend at least 10 hours per week marketing by sending a minimum of five pitches. This is truly the bare minimum — just enough to get your name out there. Over time, these in-progress conversations will begin to build so that you can get more of these clients on sales calls, reviewing proposals and signing contracts.
The bottom line is if you’re not marketing 10 hours a week or at least five pitches a week, you’ll struggle to gain the momentum needed.
How long will it take to get my first client?
Many freelancers underestimate how long it can take to get your very first client. I remember when I got started it took me 32 pitches to get my very first client on Upwork. This means you need to be prepared to put in the hours and make sure that your work samples, pitch and profiles on job boards or places like LinkedIn are top of the line.
There’s no sense in sending out 200 copies of a bad pitch if it simply isn’t converting, so remain open to the fact that you might need to adjust your strategy and come back again with a different tactic. If you’re really struggling to convert clients, it might be time to speak with a freelancing coach about how to lead sales calls, ways to improve your pitch and generating work samples that peak a client’s interest.
While a marketing plan might look different from one freelancer to another, the support of a freelancing coach can guide you through this process that much easier and help cut down the time you spend working on aspects of your marketing plan that aren’t getting traction.
Be aware that what works for another freelancer and what converts for them might not work for you so avoid being distracted by shiny objects and choose to lean in on two or three key marketing aspects that can help you be as focused as possible. When starting a new freelance business, there’s a lot to think about, but marketing should always make it to your to-do list.
Don’t overload yourself
The answer is not promising yourself that one day you’ll finally set aside time to do some marketing for your freelance business. Slow and steady wins the race.
Consistency counts when it comes to finding and landing clients. Avoid trying to spend one frenzied day a month with a goal of sending out 50 pitches; pace yourself and make freelance marketing accessible and successful.