Tired of putting up with bad clients? Instead of endlessly browsing job boards, hoping for a job with a friendly client, why not go out and pick who you want to work with? Believe it or not, this isnâ€™t a joke. Hand picking your clients is easier than you think. All it takes is some mild, social networking skills and the ability to pull yourself away from the computer every once in a while.
How and Why It can Work
If you still think Iâ€™m full of crap, let me give you a step-by-step play of how you can pick your own clients.
- You visit a new, privately owned, coffee shop in your town. You like everything about the place and decide you might like to work with the owner.
- Being the freelancer that you are, you go home and check out the website.
- You notice that they have no website or that it is pretty poorly made.
- Go back to the coffee shop a few days later and ask to talk to the manager.
- Upon meeting with the manger, you carefully mention the lack of a website and that you happen to be a designer.
- After getting the owner interested, you pull a couple tricks out of your sleeve and seal the deal.
Obviously this is an over simplified scenario, but it gives you the gist of things. As you can see, all it really takes to be able to start picking your own clients is a little bit of motivation and a slight social life!
Finding Good Clients
The first step in picking your own client is finding one you think you would be interested in working with. Odds are, if you pick a business that inspires you or that you find interesting, youâ€™ll be a lot happier working on the project. Initially, you could just think about businesses in your area that you have always found interesting and see what their website and design status is. While the latter is a fine way to start, I have an even better idea.
Spend some time getting to know your town. Visit the historic downtown areas, trendy city spots, and art districts. While out and about, take note of interesting stores, services, and restaurants. If anything catches your eye, go check it out. Pay special attention to new businesses and privately owned ones, as these are a much easier sell than larger, chain type businesses. Pick up any flyerâ€™s or business cards they have lying around and if possible, get the owners contact information.
How to Initiate Contact
To get the ball rolling in the right direction you want to speak directly to the owner. Donâ€™t waste your time speaking with the cashier or the owners wife (unless of course shes the co-owner). Speaking with anyone other than the owner will likely cause your message to get distorted or lost through the grape vine.
Part of the reason this method of hand picking clients is successful is because its business on a very personal level. When you get a chance to meet the owner in person, donâ€™t think of it as an in person â€œcold callâ€ or a sales pitch. Business owners will know and appreciate the fact that you want to help them with their business, rather than sell yourself to them.
Talk to the owner as a customer first and a designer second. Donâ€™t start the conversation with; â€ I noticed your website sucks hardcore.â€ Instead, mention that you have visited the business a few times and really liked it so you decided to check out the site and noticed it was a little â€œout of date.â€
Sealing the Deal
If you feel like the business owner will be a good client, their are a few small things you can do to reel them in. The fist is to offer them a lifetime discount, something like 10%. Tell them the initial price of your service and once their eyes widen, bring up the discount. Explain to them that the discount stands for as long as the two of you do business.
If the 10% discount doesnâ€™t get them, offer to let them pay off the amount monthly. Small business owners can handle monthly payments a lot better than lump sums. You can even try to think of some various payment plans or discounts that might seem appealing.
If youâ€™re lucky, youâ€™ll be able to tell right away if the business owner is interested in your service. Unfortunately, most small business owners may need convincing. Its important to note that I said â€œconvinceâ€ and not something like arm twisting or begging. If the business owner tries to play hard ball after you offer a discount, you probably donâ€™t want to waste your time.