I’m a freelancer, so I get it.
You need to find new clients.
New clients bring in new money to your freelance business. They are the lifeblood of your business. They make it possible for you to pay the bills.
…or do they?
A big time-waster
If your freelance business is anything like mine, there’s a lot to be done and not a lot of time do it in.
And that means you don’t have much time for big time-wasters.
Most freelancers try to stay away from social media, avoid surfing the web, or unsubscribe from Netflix thinking they’ll save some serious time in the process and therefore have more time to find new freelance clients.
We’re looking at it all wrong
But stop and think for a minute: are we going about it all wrong?
Is the primary goal of our freelance business to simply find new clients?
I don’t think so.
Let me illustrate with a story of a freelancer I once knew:
My fellow freelancer and friend Phillip (story shared with permission) would get so jazzed every time he would find a new client. His heart rate would go up, his productivity would skyrocket and, for a few days, he felt like he was on cloud nine.
Then the design process kicks in.
Clients get picky. They get annoying. They start asking too much. And that rush of energy and excitement quickly leaves.
The story was no different with Phil.
Before the project was completed, Phil was burned out. He was tired of the revisions and the poor decisions from clients who didn’t really understand.
But here’s the crucial mistake Phil made:
Instead of making sure to take the best care possible of his current clients, he got tired of the same ol’ same ol’ and decided he needed the “new client rush” again.
So he started searching for new clients and neglecting his current ones.
A chain of events
What did that lead to?
Well, of course he had to put in extra hours to market his business and find more clients.
In the mean time, his current clients felt neglected and became (justifiably) upset.
He almost always finished the projects late or sub-par and left his clients angry or frustrated.
Consequently, his clients never gave him new business–and with good reason.
Stop looking for new clients
So what’s the point of my story?
There’s another path Phil could have taken. And you and I can learn from it.
Imagine if, instead, Phil learned how to handle design-by-committee, wasn’t afraid to limit the number of revisions his clients get, and found a way to keep going when he felt burned out, here’s what might have happened:
The better choice
All the time Phil began dedicating to finding new clients could have been spent working harder to satisfy his current clients.
Not only would he have completed the project on time, but the final product would have been something he could be proud of.
And (here’s the kicker) he likely would have kept his current clients.
The best way to find clients
I’ve asked the following question hundreds of times from hundreds of designers:
“How do you find new clients?”
And guess what the #1 answer is every…single…time.
Referrals are easier than cold calls. Referrals are free. And referrals are easy because your let others do the heavy lifting for you.
So treat your current clients like gold.
Not only will you likely see more business from them in the future, but you’ll also reap the benefits of referrals.
Join the ranks of freelancers who have stopped trying to find new freelance clients.
Leave a comment on this post and let me know what you think.