Great question. I believe freelancers have it especially difficult, compared to established companies and web agencies, because it is hard to find new clients. Being a solopreneur or a one-man band is off-putting to some clients who believe that hiring a freelancer is riskier than hiring a web agency. Agencies find it hard to find new clients as well, but they seem to cope because they do have more resources than freelancers.
For those reasons, I believe that freelancers should stick to their existing clients and actively upsell them to their paid monthly subscription services for support, maintenance and business growth work. Some clients are avoiding freelancers exactly because they do not offer this level of security. Not offering paid support, maintenance and growth services is a major drawback. Let me explain.
When we were a small and inexperienced web development company, we thought that we were doing our client a good service by not charging them for support and maintenance. The reality was completely different: because we did not charge for it, we forgot to mention support and maintenance as a line item in our sales proposals. The best clients were looking for someone to support them in the long-term and we did not seem like a partner whom they could trust with their online business. As a result, we lost who knows how many good clients.
I suggest you do the following:
- Think of a number of things you could be helping your clients with, every month. Premium support, technical maintenance of the website you’ve built for them, Internet marketing services.
- Create a list of all the clients you’ve worked with so far as a freelancer. Contact them one by one and educate them on the need of buying your monthly subscription service.
Utilizing local Chambers of Commerce is an awesome idea, with a twist.
Instead of going through their directory and contacting individual companies one by one with little success (tried this - it is difficult), talk to the officials in the Chamber of Commerce and set up a free, one-to-two hours educational seminar for their members.
In my experience, Chambers of Commerce love it when people come to them and offer to give a talk to their members. Me and my business partners have done this a number of times and the results were amazing for a couple of reasons.
First, the Chamber of Commerce will do most of the marketing for you by emailing or otherwise contacting their database of companies (make sure that they do this, it’s crucial).
Second, you associate yourself with a government organization, and this point gives you an instant and durable boost in authority and trustworthiness (something that’s almost impossible to achieve in so little time with so little resources and for a price of zero euros).
Third, you’ll meet attendees in person who want to learn about Internet technologies. These people are the best clients to have. After the seminar - even if you don’t give the best presentation of your career - these people will want to ask you questions and give you their contact information.
The first educational seminar we ever organized with a business partner was a huge success. Seventy people showed up to listen to the two of us talk about Facebook and eCommerce. After the seminar, people were standing in the line to talk to us presenters and get specific answers. We landed two projects the next week. It was not the best presentation I ever gave, but we were well prepared and executed well. Just focus on educating people and on what they want to know about, on what they think they need to solve their business issues. Leave hard sales and direct promotion for after the presentation is over.