Have you ever had the OPPOSITE of what I call a “King Midas Day” or even week in your freelancing business? What I mean is it feels like nothing is going to work. You feel like a failure. It feels like your business is imploding right before your eyes! Does this sound familiar? Well if you are having that kind of day or week I want to encourage you to take a step back! Get out of your house! Most times this will give you some space and allow you to gain a fresh perspective to come back and be able to troubleshoot. Sometimes it really is an off day and other times it’s our own mindset that is holding us back.
It blows my mind when I see posts in a Facebook group with people saying they had sent 100s of pitches and had a website up for a long time, but still hadn’t gotten their first client. In my early days of coaching freelance writers, I had a girl come to me who had literally sent out 200 pitches on Upwork. And not one of those had ever reached out to her or decided to work with her. This was shocking to me!
In my own business, if I am doing something that isn’t converting I am either going to figure out if this is the right fit for me. Or is there someone out there that knows this system/software better than me that I can hire or learn from to make this convert? If this is happening to you, please don’t wait until you have sent 100 pitches or until you have spent 2 years on Upwork and have zero results before you reach out to someone who can help you.
When I first started trying to pitch to speak at TedX events, I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I submitted several applications and all of them were rejected. Now, I thought my idea was pretty good, but obviously it wasn’t resonating. I had no idea about some of the TINIEST mistakes I was making on the application process until I hired a coach who had successfully landed four TedX talks on his own.
Even though we had to work at it for a while and get through some rejections, it ended up with 5 different invitations to give TedX Talks. It’s always good to find someone who has been down the path before rather than just trying to make things work on your own. This process can be really frustrating to go through it on your own.
The first one is really important because it’s your mindset! When you are in a funk and you have a roster of clients that you don’t like to work with, you will subconsciously hold yourself back from pitching. Why? Because your mind is saying, “Oh, we don’t want any more clients like that. If working and bringing on freelance clients means being as frustrated as I have been with this group of clients then...NO THANKS! I’m not pitching.”
I have seen freelancers be held back by this. The hard part is they don’t even realize it. It’s kind of a subconscious battle that is keeping them from being able to effectively pitch. It became an easy to “back burner” the process of pitching because they were stuck in this mindset of not marketing at all because of their current clients. You need to know if this is something that is potentially holding you back. Think about these things:
None of the other elements I’m going to tell you to check are going to work if you don’t have the right mindset. So first things first, evaluate and work on your mindset.
Once we have figured out whether or not your mindset, there are some other things that you can check. Now, If you have figured out that it’s your mindset and you have a disaster client, now is the time to figure out a few things like:
Whatever samples you are providing to your prospective clients speak volumes. And you cannot afford to have samples that don’t accurately depict your quality of work. A lot of times, we forget to update your samples. If you are anything like me you probably look back at your samples and cringe! Why? Because you have gotten better at your craft since you created them. You don’t want to be sending out samples that isn’t putting your best foot forward. You should be sending out samples that is your best quality work. Samples should be the work that you are most proud of. The samples should always reflect where you are at right now, not where you were at 6 months ago. Check your samples for the following:
Samples work in conjunction with the second thing you should check...your pitch. And more often than not, if something isn’t working with your marketing it is either your samples or your pitch. One or both of these things is off for your marketing method or your specific market. If nothing is converting and you have checked your mindset, the next thing to consider is the pitch and the samples. This is where I recommend you put your focus. Invest in having someone proofread the material or give you some feedback. You can reach out in Facebook groups and such so you can figure out what isn’t working. If your pitch and samples aren’t working they can slam the door of opportunity shut with clients who otherwise would have been perfect clients for you. You may not even realize this! It’s often these little things that can be tweaked and that leads to conversions. Little things can make a HUGE difference. ASK FOR HELP!
It’s amazing to me how many creatives send out samples and pitches that are not their best work. If you are a creative person, whether it’s a writer or designer, your work needs to be spot on and error free. That’s very important! It would be nice if clients would look beyond that, but they don’t! I speak from a professional standpoint where I have been hired as a Content Manager and they client has told me to not hire anyone who has grammar mistakes in their pitch. So, as you can see, even the littlest mistakes matter!
Are you marketing to the wrong people? Are you marketing to people that only work with agencies? Are you marketing to organizations that don’t have the money to pay you? Are you marketing to people on LinkedIn but that’s not where “your people” are? Check your market after you have checked your mindset, pitch, and samples.
This is another great opportunity to engage with someone else in the freelance world and ask for their expertise on whether or not your market could be off.
Newsflash...most business is done in the follow through stages. I am always surprised when I hear from freelancers that they sent out pitches and never hear from anyone. I always ask them if they followed through. When they say that they never heard from them so they didn’t follow through it blows my mind. Most business does NOT come from sending a pitch and getting a signed contract in reply. There is a nurturing process that most clients have to go through. So if you aren’t following up with prospective clients, you are leaving business AND MONEY on the table. Check your follow through by considering things like this:
You even have to follow up after the proposal phase.
“A lot of what we do as freelancers is selling and being consistent with that selling process.”- Laura Briggs
Think about someone who tried to sell you something you didn’t want, understand, or even feel like you needed. A great example is a life insurance agent. It’s easy to push off something like this and say you didn’t want to do it. It’s probably because this person followed up with you multiple times before you decided to go through with it and get everything set up.
Be aware of how important follow up is. If you are not doing it, it wouldn't surprise me if you aren’t bringing in a lot of business. Clients need hand holding. Yes we live in an amazing digital age where you don’t have to see your clients in person if you odn’t want to. But that also means we need to make our clients comfortable about hiring essentially a stranger over the internet. We need to break down those barriers and make them feel trusting of us. The follow up is where you do this.
Follow up also shows persistence. Some clients love this. You’d be amazed by how many freelancers DON’T follow up! Sometimes it can even get your foot in the door ahead of someone else JUST BECAUSE YOU FOLLOWED UP SO MANY TIMES. Having a CRM system is a great way to keep track of all this.
Through Hubspot you can get up to 200 open email notifications for free. AFter that you have to pay. Anyone who is pitching and using cold email this can be helpful because you can see when people open your message so it will remind you to go back and FOLLOW UP!
Following up is so easy! It doesn’t take much time. It’s a quick reach out to the client to see if they have reviewed what you sent. It’s also a chance to showcase a little more personality. Carve out time and send your follow ups out in batches based on the pitches you sent a few days to a week before. Being the person that follows up can significantly increase your conversions.
Sometimes your pricing is just off. Across the board you will find all kinds of different pricing. Never base your pricing on anyone else’s numbers. This is a huge reason why I never discuss pricing anywhere I’m talking about freelancing. There are literally so many variables that go into determining pricing there is no one size fits all answer. Whatever you charge you will have clients that think that it’s cheap and a great deal. And you will have clients that think it’s too expensive.
Because you are going to hit that at every level, it’s about finding a price that works for you that still allows you to be competitive in the market. You can do a lot of harm to yourself by having pricing that is too low. I have had clients turn me down because he thought I was too cheap. I have also had more people turn me down because I was priced too high. I never take it personally though. It’s never worth burning the bridge because those people may come back to you or even refer people to you once they know the baseline of your pricing. You simple just say OKAY. I have had people turn me down because they thought my pricing was too high only to come back to me when their business was doing a little bit better.
These are the types of things that go into the consideration of your pricing. A lot of people think it’s their pricing when in fact it’s their pitch or proposal. But it is worth considering whether there is something that is off with your pricing. The best way to know this is if people are straight up telling you that you are too expensive or don’t know what it is included in that cost. This leads to the client just shutting down.
There is a reason why we check the pricing last. More than likely, the reason you aren’t converting is because of one of the other things I listed.
There is nothing wrong with you as a business owner or creative if something isn’t converting in your marketing cycle. Most of us are new at this. We are figuring things out as we go along and making our best guess at how to run our business. So there is no shame in saying this isn’t working. You just have to look at what you can get better at, what you can learn, what you can change in your business to make it better. This can actually liberate you from the stress of taking it so personally.
Learning is something that can be so empowering in your business. It can also help with your mindset towards your business. As business owners we have to be adaptable and constantly evolving to see where the market is going. There is a tremendous amount of intelligence in stepping back and seeing what isn't working and figuring out how to adapt to change it.
**Remember I have an awesome FB GROUP where you can get tons of free training and information and network with other rockstar freelancers. You can find me by searching for Mastering Your Freelance Life with Laura.
For more freelance advice, get a copy of my book Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business—available now! Buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and more.