Increase your likelihood of winning the gig by decreasing your pool of clients

Why do we willingly accept that we are just one of a sea of other freelancers a client could pick? Let's stack the odds in our favour for a change.

How many competitors do you really have?  According to Google 492,000 people also consider themselves a “freelance web designer”.  Or if you’re a “freelance copywriter” you’re just one of a sea of 492,000 others.

It turns out freelancer anonymity is fairly easy to maintain. So how do you change the small fish : big pond outlook?

It’s a common truism that the smaller your potential pool of customers the higher your likelihood of making the sale.  Admittedly this feels somewhat counter-intuitive and it took me a while to figure it out.  Bigger pool of clients = more chance of winning a customer, it’s just a numbers game, right?  Wrong.

“I find that it’s too daunting to go after everyone, so I focus it down into specific audiences.  If your audience is ‘the Internet’ its more difficult, so if you can be the go-to-guy for a specialist audience it becomes a little easier to be seen”

Paul Jarvis on Freelancelift Q&A

A lot of marketing and customer acquisition centers on perception.   Is your prospective client more likely to go for the freelancer that has demonstrable experience and a roster of successes with businesses like theirs?  Or with the freelancer who has experience across all sectors, often with work in completely different markets?

In big business these are known as ‘verticals’.   Specific market sectors in which a supplier can be a specialist, for a more bespoke overall service.   As a specialist in a particular field, you can command a much higher project fee for your service, as well as giving yourself a much easier ride when it comes to getting the client in the first place.

Be the specialist, improve your likelihood of making the sale

When it comes to generating leads and winning great freelance work, there are three factors at play.  Having a specialist dream client is a catalyst you might not be taking advantage of and it’s hurting your chances in all of these areas.

1. Attention

If you’ve been able to prise yourself away from freelancer exchanges (why top bracket freelancers aren’t on Elance) then your first hurdle is going to be building attention.

Locating your dream client in their natural habitat and becoming ‘the blip’, sparking at least the beginnings of a potential relationship.  With a generic, ill-thought-out picture of your prospective client you’ll struggle to get enough exposure to drive any meaningful attention back to you and your brand.  The market is too vast and your time is severely limited.

What if rather than targeting ‘businesses’ you targeted ‘two person businesses in the musical instrument repair space*’?  Do you think it’d be easier to locate, target and be visible to the businesses in this sector?

With a narrower potential audience, your job to be visible is made exponentially easier.

* Completely made up – this may or may not be a viable audience

2. Desire

You’ve probably heard phrases like ‘get inside their head’ and ‘understand what they really want’ more times than you can count; if you’ve ever struggled to really act on that advice though, you probably have a problem with specificity.

With a smaller sub-set of a market all facing similar business problems, your job is made a little easier when it comes to building a sense of desire in your service.  If the picture of your dream client is too generic you’ll find yourself hedging your bets when it comes to creating site content and sales copy, all resulting in serving no one customer fully.

Being around a narrower audience however, you’ll quickly understand key issues all of these businesses are facing, ensuring you’re best placed to explain how your service is the missing piece of their particular jigsaw.

3. Justification

Your job when it comes to the final stage of winning the gig is to justify value.  Do a good job of justifying value and you’ll make the sale, do a bad job and you may not.

So doesn’t it pay to be really clear on the business model of a prospective client?  When you have a range of clients in all shapes and sizes this becomes a game of guesswork.

By channeling the worldview of a more specific client sector though, you can speak with authority when relating your price to the client’s business model, ensuring value is justified and – in the client’s mind – you’re the right person for the job.

Finding, qualifying and implementing a specialist audience

The theme for this month in Freelancelift Pro is just that, finding a specialist audience.   I believe this is a crucial step on your journey to making this a better year for you as a freelancer.  Hence you can now get access to:

Workbook ‘Define Your Dream Client’ which explains clearly the process of

  • Developing audience ideas
  • Qualifying and filtering potential markets
  • Making the decision

Exclusive video course to provide direction, along with me carrying out these exercises live.

  • How to use free web tools to build your bulk of ideas
  • Which audience I’d choose if I had to start again
  • How to determine whether a market is worthy of your service

You can get all courses for less than $20 per month.   This was our theme for January – in May there will be a new goal, and you’ll get the same each and every month. Click here to join, and get straight into the course and workbook with your pro account

Working for scraps of a living either as a sub-contractor or from freelancer exchanges.  This isn’t the life I want for you and that’s the reason this short book, course and workshop is so focused on helping you achieving this goal, and a new goal every single month.

You can start now, and get busy with the short book and video course immediately.

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  • @Daman

    Very well said. I’ve found it also makes your work easier to do with each new client when you’re focusing on a niche.

    • Liam at Freelancelift

      Thanks Daman, yeah exactly. Ideas flow more readily so the new client benefits, then if you can keep the prior relationship(s) going they too benefit from your wider experience in that sector! Cheers

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