Do you struggle to find the right clients? Clients who value your expertise? Clients who can afford you?
Do you attract clients with tight budgets? People whose 'business' is more of a hobby?
Chances are that you answered yes to all of the above.
You don't feel like you can justify quitting your (well paid) day job when you can't find clients who can afford you.
And worse- if you've already quit and you're struggling to make a decent income from freelancing, you may be seriously contemplating finding a 'real job'. A boring 9-5 job that you know you'll hate, but you also know will safely pay your bills.
There's nothing wrong with finding a 9-5 job if you are really desperate. In fact, I put my hands up to the folks who do this! It takes guts and humility to surrender your dreams (for now) and go back to working in the corporate world.
But before you do that, I want you to try your very best to find the clients that can afford you. The clients with bigger budgets. Because they ARE out there. You just aren't attracting them yet.
Let me tell you the financial story of my business over the last few years.
Before I quit my day job...
I freelanced on the side, trying to build up my experience and portfolio.
I didn't have a website yet, or any testimonials. I only had my blog.
I targeted micro-businesses, like Etsy shop owners and bloggers. The problem with that is that the majority of Etsy shop owners and bloggers are hobbyists. This means that their budgets are really tight. I was only making about $340 per blog design.
What did I learn from this?
I worked my butt off for barely any money but I built up my portfolio and I got a few testimonials, which was well worth the hard work! Now I'd built a foundation for my business, I recognized that I needed to change my target client to businesses with bigger budgets.
In my first two years of freelancing full-time...
My rates were a bit higher than before, but still really low compared to the average wage of my peers. This most likely made me look like an amateur to prospective clients with bigger budgets, even if my work was good.
I decided to raise my rates again and steer away from bloggers and shop owners, focusing on female entrepreneurs with five/six figure businesses. I began charging $2000+. Here was the problem: I still didn't have enough experience to charge people this much.
To make matters worse, my website was terrible. It looked very corporate and attracted the wrong clients. It didn't contain much useful information- like my step-by-step process, testimonials, an about page, or a sign up form- which probably helped people decide not to hire me.
What did I learn from this?
I learned that I couldn't charge high prices if I didn't have much experience. But I also learned that I wouldn't attract clients with bigger budgets if I had ridiculously cheap rates, because cheap rates made me look like an amateur. I had to find a middle-ground that I was comfortable with.
In the last twelve months...
I increased my rates to what I felt comfortable with and what I thought my ideal clients would be willing to pay for quality work.
I rebranded my website and I increased my rates again. I was pretty scared that no one would want to pay my rates, even though they still aren't really that high, but the opposite happened! I had more inquiries. I was booking more clients. It was 100% the right move for my business.
What did I learn from this?
When the time feels right, increase your rates and don't be scared. If your work is good enough, people will be willing to pay you more.
So, how can YOU find clients with bigger budgets?
1. Don't jump the gun. If you don't have much experience or you haven't built up a portfolio, don't expect people to pay you lots. We all have to start at the bottom and work our way up.
2. When you've built up experience, increase your rates! Your dream clients won't be interested in working with you if your rates make you look like an amateur. For example, say you're buying a used car. You seen an amazing car with no faults and you get really excited. You expect it to cost you, say, $4000 and you'd be willing to pay that for such a good little car. But you see it's being sold at $999 and you're instantly put off. Why? Because it looks too good to be true! It looks like a dodgy deal. The same theory applies to pricing your services. If you price like an amateur, people will think you ARE one.
3. Make sure your website shows all the information your client needs. This includes your rates, your process, an FAQ page and testimonials. This will make you look more professional and trustworthy; qualities that clients with bigger budgets need to see.
4. Are you attracting the right clients? If your website is girly and filled with designs for Etsy shops, you're going to attract Etsy shop owners and push away bigger businesses with bigger budgets.
5.Do you advertise and guest post? If so, what are advertising in the right places? If you're advertising on craft blogs and things like that, you're most likely going to attract hobbyists with smaller budgets.
6. Is your portfolio filled with the right work? If it's filled with designs for blogs and Etsy shops, people with larger businesses might not be interested in you.
7.Fake it 'til you make it. Don't state all over your website that you haven't been in business long- people don't want to do business with newbies. Instead, put a positive spin on it by mentioning all the experience you have- from freelancing on the side of your day job, to doing a similar job for a large company. Every drop of experience counts.
I recently emailed the women who have signed up for more info on my Shelancers club, asking them to tell me their no.1 struggle with freelancing. (If you don't already know, Shelancers is a supportive community for freelance women and we're launching in March!)
I had dozens of replies, and everyone said the same thing:
I struggle to find clients.
That's why I chose to write this post today. I wanted to give hope to all the freelance women who struggle to find the right clients- or any clients at all!
Shelancers is not only going to be a community of united freelance women. It's going to be a monthly series of freelance lessons, taught by myself and your favorite freelancers.
In one of the lessons, I'm going to dive deeper into all aspects of finding clients- how to find clients when you lack experience, how to find your dream clients, and how to always book clients in advance.
If that sounds awesome to you then sign up to be the first to hear when Shelancers launches!