By Toby Somerville

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

By Toby Somerville

The Follow up Phone Call

Unlike the previous post on the initial email contact, phone conversations tend to be unpredictable. There is no exact blueprint for this type of call, it could go in any direction. I will however, endeavour to give you some advice on how to conduct the call.

The purpose of the call
There are two main purposes to this call:

  1. establishing that the firm has got your email — It is amazing the number of times that an email is lost or doesn’t get to the right person
  2. arranging a face-to-face meeting

Keep in Mind
Before you make the call keep these things in mind.

  • be polite and courteous
  • it could take days or even weeks before you get to talk to the right person in the company
  • write down the names of each person you talk to
  • keep notes on what was said
  • Keep it brief — the other person is likely to be busy
  • Remember you are selling a business proposition, your purpose is to add value to the firm you contract for

Who you get to talk to
Your first phone contact is usually the receptionist. Introduce yourself and ask if <Joe Blogs> is available and explain why you are calling.

From here you will either be put through to Joe, (or someone who looks after that area of the business) or, if Joe is unavailable: you will need to call back. Make sure you ask for a convenient time to call. If it is a choice between them calling you or you calling them: Personally, I prefer to call them — that way I am mentally prepared for the conversation.

Once you get through to the person you need to talk to:

  • again, introduce yourself
  • ask if they have a moment to talk
  • ask if they received your email — If they haven’t received it – explain briefly what you want and ask if you can resend the email to them.
  • ask if they have any use for your skills — If no; ask if you can be kept in mind for any future projects
  • thank them for their time

That’s it! With any luck they will be interested in meeting you, and it will be the start of a long and profitable relationship.

Keep in Touch

You may or may not get any work first time round, but keep in contact. Keep them informed of what your availability is and any cool new sites you have done etc. The more visible you are to them; the more likely you are to get work. The caveat to this is: don’t spam them!


Hopefully, in this series of posts I have given you a few ideas on how to approach firms to get contract work. Good luck and happy contracting. TTFN.

  • Marcelo

    Great Article, I’ll try it with my start up since I got no contacts nor contracts yet.
    Do you have any statistics based on your experience on how many e-mails you sent and were answered back with some interested? Eg. “X mails answered back / Y mails sent”?

  • Jdawg2k

    Thanks Toby. My business is shifting to contract work so this was a perfect read for me. I will put your advice to good use.

  • I really liked this series of posts. Since I started my own web shop late last year, I’ve only made one cold call to a family aquaintance. I ended up leaving an incredibly awkward message on her machine — ouch! Never heard back. Anyway, what I lack in cold calling, I make up for in plain old face-to-face networking. I meet people all over the place and casually mention I’m a web designer when the conversation leads to ‘what do you do.’ Most of the time, they’re interested in hiring me for some project they have or always wanted to pursue. I always have my business cards on me and usually they email me within a few days to see some of my past work and what I can do for them and for what price. Anyway, my next step is to start doing some space advertising and search engine optimizing my site to the best of my ability.

  • I think most of what you’ve outlined in this series could be applied to getting a full-time job as well as contract work.

  • Toby Somerville

    Thanks for your kind words.

    Marcelo — I don’t have any hard and fast figures for you. The problem with giving any figures is that they are specific to me, my location and the general availability of contract work at that time etc. Having said that, I had a hit rate of over 75%.

    Yyssen — Yes, the same applies to getting a full-time job. Also, sometimes you will get employment offers from the firms you are contracting for. Its a little bit like “try before you buy”. The firm gets to see how good you are before they try and employ you.

  • The timing of your article couldn’t have been any better!

    Looking to expand my business, I just began the process of researching firms that may have an interest in contracting out design work. I found some great leads, but I was struggling with the best way to make the initial contact.

    You listed a series of helpful and easy to follow tips that should make this job much easier. Thank you so much!

  • simsim

    Good article series to walk you through the doors, but unfortunately it provides nothing on how to negotiate firms you contact for rates/ratios for work you do for them.

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