What’s one of the biggest struggles for freelancers? Getting clients.
In fact, 75% of freelancers can’t find new work at a moment’s notice.
This is important especially with so many people opting to freelance, work from home, and start side hustles.
While you can wait for referrals, tap your network, and do the usual things – which do work – there’s a way to take control of your clients.
A way to take control of your income, finance, and turn your freelancing career into a booming business.
Do you know how? Cold outreach.
This is the secret weapon for any freelancer looking to take their career to the next level.
I’ll be teaching you how to land high paying clients with cold outreach and what common mistakes to avoid along the way.
Step 1: Choose your medium
Cold outreach isn’t limited to a single platform.
It can be done anywhere at any time.
That’s why the first choice is to choose a single channel to focus on. You can split test and experiment afterward. But, let’s keep it simple at first.
Select one channel to perform the outreach. I recommend email or LinkedIn.
The first reason for this is that there are 3.9 billion active email users globally. And, let’s be real. All of us check out emails every day. (If not for hours!)
Image Source: Oberlo
Secondly, 92% of marketers include LinkedIn in their marketing mix as it’s the go-to network for reaching B2B professionals. If that aligns with your ideal client (more on that next) then try it first.
Image Source: Foundation
That brings me to my next point.
Step 2: Figure out your ideal client’s persona
If I asked you who your ideal client is, could you tell me everything about them?
You should be able to answer the following questions:
- Who are they and what’s their position?
- What kind of company, industry, and vertical are they in?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What keeps them up at night? What do they need help with?
- How can you help improve all of this?
Once you know this information, you can begin prospecting.
There are freely available websites, databases, and networks where these leads can be found. Let’s use Angel List if you target startups, for instance.
Simply type in a keyword and adjust the filters to begin.
Click a company that’s suitable and all of the company information will be found on their profile page.
Then, take this data and plug it into a spreadsheet that looks like this:
The most important column is the domain as you will be using that in the next step to find key decision-makers contact information.
Step 3: Find the decision-maker
Next, you need to find the gatekeeper within the companies you’ve found. Think of these people as the individual in charge of whether or not your services will be accepted.
A lot of freelancers make the mistake of cold pitching customer service or generic emails. That’s a guaranteed way to get emails deleted. It’s simply not their role.
It’s infinitely more effective if you take the extra steps and go straight to the top.
Luckily, there’s a tool for that! It’s called Hunter.
Remember those domains I told you to write down? Plug this into Hunter on the homepage (or use the bulk feature with a paid account).
The following page will give you a list of leads with their emails (bingo!), social accounts, phone numbers, and more.
We want their emails or social profiles depending on which medium you chose in the first step.
Organize these into the original spreadsheet and move onto the fourth step.
Step 4: Humanize your email
Now it’s time for the meat and potatoes – actually sending some messages.
I suggest you use a CRM like HubSpot to organize contacts and track progress. But feel free to keep it old school, just be diligent about managing the data.
Keep in mind that it’s easy to lose your social skills when getting into business. We want fast results. We want things now.
You know what I’m talking about: sending out copy and pasted messages in hopes it will convert. It won’t.
That’s why every email needs to be personalized to each prospect. This will maximize open, reply, and conversion rates.
It also creates a much more genuine impression and opens the door to create a real relationship that cold outreach is all about. Not hard selling.
For instance, every email should include:
- The prospect’s first name.
- The prospect’s company name.
- A custom observation or question.
- A unique call to action.
Here’s an example of what it would look like:
You need to introduce yourself, use social proof, mention your services, and most importantly talk results.
Decision-makers and especially B2B companies want to drive revenue, leads, and other tangible performance.
The name and company name is simple. However, the custom compliment takes some digging. It can be about:
- New clients
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Funding or venture capital
- New products or services
- Collaborations and partnerships
- Branding changes
That brings me to the last step in nailing your cold outreach.
Step 5: Success is in the follow-up
Who are you messaging? Is it vice presidents? C-suite executives?
These are busy people with lots on their plate. Naturally, a random email isn’t going to overly pique their interests.
They may be in need of your service or want to learn more, but they have colleagues and projects that come first.
That’s why follow-ups are key to success with cold outreach as a freelancer.
You need to catch them at the perfect day and hour. CoSchedule concluded that Tuesday at 10:00 am, Thursday at 8:00 pm, and Wednesday at 2:00 pm are best to yield results.
Image Source: CoSchedule
Furthermore, 80% of sales require at least five follow-ups. Don’t give up too soon.
There are many different ways to send follow-ups, too. The first way is to send a simple reminder and reiterate the original email like so:
Additional follow-ups can be focused on sharing content, asking for feedback, or scheduling a discovery call.
One of the biggest challenges of freelancing isn’t getting your website set up, building a brand, or marketing. It’s getting clients.
And while you wait for all of the former to pay off, there’s one way to instantly land clients and that’s through proper outreach.
It all begins with narrowing down your ideal client into a buyer persona. Map out their demographics, company size, strengths, weaknesses, and every other detail.
Then, it’s time to get their domain information. Use databases like AngelList, Crunchbase, Dribble, or others. Most importantly we want their URL to run through a tool like Hunter for their email.
Plug this information into a CRM and begin sending customized emails. It should be tailored to each lead. Use their first name, company name, and present a custom observation or compliment.
Following up is crucial after this. You may not catch them at the right time the first time. Or the second. Or the third. You get my point.
But, you’ll be in total control of your freelance career. And, that’s priceless.
Guest author: Carmine Mastropierro is a copywriter who has written for Neil Patel, GoDaddy, Marketo, and other publications. He helps businesses drive traffic, leads, and revenue.