How to get contract work in three easy steps (Part 1 of 3)

Toby Somerville

Over the next three posts I am going to outline one method of getting contract work that has been very successful for me. It is both cheap and easy to implement, requiring little more than some time, email and a phone.

So, how do you get contract work?

Simple — You ask!

Of course, there is a little more to it than that, but basically: You just ask.

How Does it Work?

  • First, find and research the web and advertising firms in your area.
  • Next, send the firms an introductory email.
  • Then, follow up a few days later with a phone call.

I have found this approach is far better than cold calling, as the firms are forewarned, (that you are going to call) and they know why you are calling. Also, by emailing first — If the firm isn’t interested: they will generally email you back to that effect.

The Ground Work
Preparation is really important, potentially any of these firms could be worth thousands of dollars to you. So, it is worth putting a bit of time and effort into researching each firm — basically the same as if you were preparing for a job interview (which effectively you are).

How to Find the firms
I would start by using search engines and your local business directories i.e. the Yellow Pages. When searching look for both web firms and advertising agencies. Note: Not all advertising agencies have a web department.

Research the Firms
Once you have a list of potential firms. Research them. Try and work out whether or not they are going to be a likely source of work. Do this by; reading through their website, looking for any forum post about them, and generally giving them a good Googling. Also, look at their client lists and analysis the website itself.

Then, rank the firms, (based on your research) on a scale of 1 to 5, as to how much you would like to work for them. This is a subjective matter — you might do it based on their client list, their location, their reputation or even how much you like the web site.

Next, starting with your best ranked firms — Try and find out who to contact at each firm. If you can’t find that information on the web; a quick call to the firm, to ask who to send an email to, is all that is usually required.

Keep Notes
Keep notes on your progress with each firm including:

  • who you contacted
  • what was said
  • the date and time of contact
  • any follow up that is required

As you actually get into the process of contacting each firm, you will find that note taking quickly becomes invaluable. Often, the contact process won’t be as simple as a single email and phone call. Sometimes the email doesn’t get to the person it should and needs to be resent or the person you need to talk to is away and you have to call back etc.

Keep accurate notes and then you will always know where you are in the contact process. Use whatever note system works for you, I personally prefer good old fashioned pen and paper.

In my next post I am going to talk about that critical introductory email, with tips on what it should contain and how to structure it for best effect. TTFN