Let’s face it - who can’t use a little extra cash? But then, maybe for you that “extra” income is a necessity rather than a luxury. If that’s the case, it’s even more important to “work smarter, not harder.” After all, the more efficiently you work, the more efficiently you earn. (Not to mention that you only have so much time and energy to spare!)
The key to “working smarter” is to maximize, maximize, maximize! In other words, to do some (or all) of the following.
Look for Low-Hanging Fruit
Sometimes we get so focused on the usual ways of acquiring clients - like hopping onto a freelance site - that we overlook other opportunities.
Start by thinking about the people you know, the organizations you belong to, your workplace, and even the businesses you pass on your daily commute. Is there anyone who is primed for your services? (Whether they know it or not.) Who do you know that could help you obtain work? Have you forgotten to follow-up on any referrals? Really sit back and access all the possibilities.
Finding low-hanging fruit can also include things like carving out a profitable niche. If you’ve completed a few wedding websites, for example, start positioning yourself as the go-to person for that product and service.
Once You’ve Completed a Project, Approach Similar Organizations
Let’s say you designed a site for a local humane society. Instead of moving on and hunting for an entirely new kind of client, get the most use out of the template/layout you just designed. After all, most humane societies will probably have similar needs when it comes to their website, right? Sure, you’re going to customize each one to incorporate their branding and any specific requests. But, overall, the designs will likely be quite similar.
Approaching organizations cold to sell them on a redesign can be intimidating, for sure. But focus on pitching the project as a win-win for both parties - because it is. If they’re a non-profit desperately in need of a modern website, for example, you can give them one at a very reasonable price (being you’re using a layout you already created) while quickly adding work to your portfolio. And since non-profits greatly depend on cash and good donations, having a mobile-friendly website is invaluable to them.
Also remember that the more you become an expert in designing for a particular niche, the greater your chances of convincing similar clients to hire you. Word will also likely spread mouth-to-mouth as well, so don’t be surprised if after a while potential clients call you.
Ask For Referrals
Happy clients make great referral sources. If they’ve had a wonderful experience with you, they’ll naturally want others to as well. So don’t be afraid to ask them if they know of anyone else who can benefit from your services.
One of the best times to ask for referrals is right after a successful project has been launched - although you certainly can also pose the question later on. Just keep the question casual and non-sales-like. It also doesn’t hurt to work in a successful element of the project. (Especially if it’s been awhile since the project launched.) For example, you could say something like:
Sarah, thank you again for the opportunity to redesign your online store. You mentioned that sales have increased by 25% due to the mobile-friendly design which is fantastic! Congratulations!
P.S. I currently have a few project slots open. If you know of any other local shops or businesses that would benefit from my services, feel free to let me know. Naturally, I would approach them with the same level of professionalism I extended to you. Thanks!
Simple. Complimentary. Polite. And non-sales-like.
Sell to Current Clients
The old saying is true. It’s easier to acquire work from current clients than it is from new ones. That’s because you don’t have to sell yourself - you’ve already done that. And if you’re a reliable and quality professional, your clients will be open to additional services.
You may have already redesigned their website, but what other services might they need? Does their e-newsletter template need a face-lift? Could they use landing pages for any of their marketing campaigns? If you’ve got graphic design skills, do they need any business cards, brochures, or fliers created?
Even if they’re currently using another service to create those items, you can likely offer better. Remind them of the personal touch you can give them, and how well the last project turned out. By all means, don’t push or be too sale-like. But the question is worth pursuing. You never know what might happen!
Get the Word Out
Quite often, the best projects or connections come from people we know. Perhaps they have a friend who needs a new website for their business. Or, maybe they own a design firm and need extra help on a big project.
You just never know what opportunities might come your way. Get the word out on social media; through friends, family, and colleagues; and take advantage of any free advertising open to you.