IT'S NOT SO CRAZY ONCE YOU'RE DOING IT
Hustling to find clients and getting your name out there may feel overwhelming at the start, however, once you see jobs coming in as a result, you’ll see it in a new light and it won’t really feel that scary after all. You’ll become a pro. You’ll feel ok with rejection and super proud about the jobs that stick. I had this fantasy of freelancing that I'd be jumping into the unknown and I wouldn't have a clue about what I'm doing... which is mostly true! But you'd be surprised how fast you learn and how much you can do with your day. Don't get me wrong, it is hard work, but you’re going to work hard in whatever job you do anyway so you may as well work hard at what you love. The strangest part is waking up a few months in and realising… holy potatoes, I did it! And it doesn’t seem so hard or impossible, I simply put in the effort & time and now I’m here - little old me!
BONUS TIP: It’s ok to cry and be sad and miserable. The first few weeks for me were SO HARD. I moved cities at the same time which probably made it harder, but I cried. Heaps. Then I got over that hump and the dark clouds cleared away. Being emotional won’t kill you and it’s completely normal to build up all that stress and then let it vent it out, let the tears floooow.
WHERE THE CLIENTS AT?
There’s no easy way guys, you gotta go and get em yourself! Peel your eyes off your Instacouch, step away from the paint pots and get contacting. It’s great to post beautiful things on the internets and build your following, but you also need to get in front of (the right) people’s faces. Start by emailing friends and family and asking if they know anyone who may be able to help you, then go a little broader and contact acquaintances (read: FB friends, old school/uni mates or colleagues). Make the goal 50 people, I guarantee at least half will reply and chances are you’ll probably land a job or two and all that emailing could take only a few hours, or less if you’re a speedy typer. Then get onto Facebook groups like LMBDW (Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine) or work in a co-working space a few days a week (in the past 2 months I've gained 5 clients from co-working spaces, and an extra 2 from recommendations). Dedicate 1 day of the week to being your Business Development day and get emailing.
BONUS TIP: Meet with people for coffee and make connections. Whether it’s someone that does the same work as you (so much to learn off fellow artist/creators), or someone who could link you to work - take them out, maybe somewhere easy for them, buy them coffee and ask them lots of q’s. You’ll make a new business connection, they’ll love you for the free coffee and all your curiosity will give them a little ego boost :) don't be shy!
YOUR CLIENTS ARE #1
Make no mistake, your clients are the heartbeat of your biz. Be friendly and respectful, remember meetings, be punctual and make your clients feel like you value them and their time. Whatever is going on outside of your business that may affect your relationship with your clients, make it a priority to get it sorted so that your clients don’t suffer.
BONUS TIP: Respond to your clients promptly. Personally I try to respond within 1-3 days, 1 week max.
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
Reward yourself on a great win and be kind to yourself when a client or job falls through. Even the biggest & best business’/entrepreneurs get rejected and fall flat, just keep moving forward. There’s small gems of wisdom in every fail - some losses may be a blessing in disguise.
BONUS TIP: Set aside 1 day a month to do something totally different like explore your city, do a creative workshop or anything fun that will refresh your spirits and keep those creative juices flowing. Recently I tried salsa dancing and left feeling inspired and high on life :)
COMPARING WILL KILL YOUR VIBE
Try and exist off Instagram/FB. There is no shortage of work out there and you have to believe that your business offers something unique and valuable… so just focus on your own journey and hustle like you’re selling gold! :)
BONUS TIP: Turn off notifications for Instagram or whichever platform you use, and only check when you feel like it (which will be a lot less, trust me). That way it’s on your terms to check your social, not an app controlling where your attention goes. You’ll feel less crazy.
SAYING NO IS IMPORTANT
Sometimes you won’t be vibing with a client, or they are offering you too little for a job. It’s totally ok to say no and move on, there are so many clients out there willing to pay what your worth. If you have no work lined up and you’re desperate for money and exposure, then accept the job and explain that you are offering a lower rate for first time business (or whichever reason works for you). I offer first time rates with all new clients anyway, just be sure to let them know your usual rate so they know what to expect next time they want to work with you.
BONUS TIP: The only time I would do free work is for a collaboration with another artist that I genuinely liked and felt our styles worked well together, or a charity that I am passionate about. Aside from that, if someone really valued my work then they would have a budget to suit. If you’re wanting to fill your folio with a new style of work then that’s obvs great value to you so then it might be ok to take the job on, as it is low risk for the client too. Even still, I don’t feel it’s right to not pay for a service that you value so I still probably wouldn’t do it! Gotta pay the bills yo.
CLIENTS BUY INTO YOU, THEN YOUR WORK
Whilst your service or product is the main attraction, it’s YOU that clients want to work with. My policy is to always be friendly and easy to communicate with. No matter how difficult or demanding a client is, your number 1 main interest is to build bridges, make a (positive) name for yourself and ultimately get work! Building friendly and positive relationships with clients means they will come back to you, because they think ‘I need some photos done again, I remember that really friendly photographer, she’d be great for the job!’ or when you’re dealing with new leads you want them to feel like you care about their business and their project so that they trust you and ultimately want you on board. Going above and beyond will attract and keep great clients and keep you at the top of their talent speed dial.
BONUS TIP: It doesn’t hurt to check in with current or old clients every so often, sending a quick email to say hello to remind them that you’re keen for work may land you a job that you otherwise may not have gotten. Don’t worry about coming across as annoying/pesty, they might be searching for someone to complete the job and you’ve just made that process easier by coming to them. Just be patient on replies as people are busy, give it 1 week before following up.
Are you keen to get into freelancing or already work for yourself? What have you learnt so far?