People want to have a control over their time, flexibility and money. Also if you’ve listened to the successful examples in your circle, it seems like, becoming a highly paid freelancer is like taking a candy from a baby. Isn’t it?
Assuming that you’ve already decided to leave your full-time job, you better gear up and start planning. Landing your first gig might not be as fast and easy as you’re thinking.
Therefore before you start searching for a gig there are several steps you need to wrap up in order to leave a positive impression when pitching to your potential clients.
First of all, I would recommend to ditch your classic CV and to create a personal website or a modernistic offline version of your portfolio.
Especially relevant is that your portfolio should be focused on your best performing services. Focus on the two to three services where you are best at.
Let’s have a look at Sean Halpin’s personal website. He clearly states that he focus on minimalist design, typography and content. If a potential client visits his page, he will understand what this guy can do and if those services are of value for him.
After the initial introduction, if the potential client is interested in Sean’s professional working experience, he can see the actual projects on his portfolio page.
2. Learn more about the client you are going to pitch to
“Try to sell your skills” is often misunderstood with “try to produce business value with your skills”. I’ve seen this numerous times when trying to find a professional to collaborate on a project.
Let’s try with an example:
A client asks for a CRM solution
We are looking forward to creating a clean CRM app designed for sales professionals in mind;
And we believe that our CRM should enable a sales professional to easily and intuitively manage their contacts, contracts, and events.
Our CRM app will be a handgun for salesmen.
Ineffective pitch by a freelancer:
Hope this mail finds you in best of your health!
My name is John, from London. I offer development solutions for Mobile and Web using agile methodology.
I am experienced in cutting edge technologies like Angular.js, Backbone.js, Node.js, .Net, PHP (CMS), HTML5, Python, Magento, Ruby on Rails for web development, Responsive designs, E-commerce etc.
I can work with you Full/Part time/Hourly Basis.
I’d be happy to send you details of the past work and assure you best services at affordable prices. I am happy to assist you as your dedicated backend technology partner.
Looking forward to speak with you.
Why this type of communication is ineffective in the first place? Looking at it we can identify the following flaws:
- This freelancer clearly ignores the initial request which is a need for a CRM application;
- He focus on his skills rather on the delivery and his experience in delivering CRM applications;
- Laying out too many details to start with:
- Working methodologies;
- Full/Part-time/Hourly Basis;
- The communication ends without any action point to be taken. What will be the next move after this email?
Effective pitch by a freelancer:
My name is John, a developer from London. I’ve seen your project and I would like to collaborate with you on delivering the simple and intuitive CRM.
As one of the developers of Highrise – Simple CRM for small business, I have the opportunity to understand the client’s needs. I believe that we can use the feedback to create a simple and intuitive CRM.
If you are available, I would like to schedule a call on Thursday at 12:00 to learn more about the project.
What makes this communication effective? Let’s have a look:
- The freelancers states that he has knowledge and expertise in the domain;
- He focus on the business value to deliver a simple and intuitive CRM solution;
- Keeping it straight to the point:
- Simple and short messaging;
- Understands what is important to the client;
- He asks the potential client for a meeting. – The ball is passed to the client.
3. Before the meeting
You’ve got a positive reply from your client. The meeting is scheduled. – Hooray!
First of all, a good meeting always starts with an agenda. Before you start make sure you write down all of the different topics you want to discuss with your client.
In addition, a good meeting agenda should cover the following topics:
- Analyze their competitors to understand your client’s direction;
- Proper Introduction – Tell your part of the story and listen to their part of the story;
- Discussing the project – Lean about the project itself; Learn about the business priorities; Understand how you can help them with the execution; Find out the extra step that you can take to make them feel special;
- Discuss the project timelines – Try to find out when they plan to start and if the timelines are realistic enough;
- Discuss the budget – Don’t be afraid to ask about the estimated budget. Estimated budget might not be the final one;
- Propose a date to send them an estimate, required budget, and a timeline;
Finally, the action point of the meeting should get you all of the answers for you to be able to create an estimate. If there are different variables that you require for your estimation, don’t forget to put them on the meeting agenda.
4. Preparing an estimate
Most noteworthy to be able to understand the workload, you need to translate the project into numbers. This means that you will need to calculate the amount of work required for you to deliver the project.
The question is how you can create this estimate?
Creating an estimate consists of two parts:
- Identifying the action items(tasks) that we need to do for a goal to be reached;
- How much time it will take for a task to be completed in the different phases of the project;
For example in software development, you need to consider the time required for every task in a different phase:
- Polishing and Cleaning;
If you are interested to learn more about how to prepare an estimate and reach your goals, check my blog post Time management – What high achievers want you to know.
When you will feel ready, communicate your estimate with your client. You should clearly specify the timeline, the team (if any) and the budget;
Don’t forget to ask for a second meeting to discuss the details and to close the deal.
5. Closing the deal
You’ve got a reply with confirmation for the meeting. Gear up and get ready for it. There are some action items that you will need to consider before the meeting takes place.
- Show appreciation for time to discuss so far;
- Ask them about their view on the estimation;
- Discuss the timelines;
- Agree about the budget;
- Talk about the future;
- Once they agree on your estimate, you should agree on the following:
- Signing up an agreement;
- Agree on how you are going to get paid:
- 30% before the project starts;
- 50% after 80% of the project is completed;
- 20% after the final delivery;
- Discuss the responsibilities;
- Communicate about the guaranty of the delivery;
- Project start date;
- Discuss what are your requirements before the project starts:
- Requirement specification;
- Meetings schedules;
- Feedback schedules;
- Retrospective meetings schedules;
- The person responsible for the project;
- The person responsible for your payments;
In conclusion, make sure that all corners are covered so there are no surprises from both sides. Both you and your client should be happy.
Close this meeting with an action item for you to prepare a document on how the collaboration would work. Make sure you invest your time into educating your clients about the way you work and how your process will have a positive effect on the collaboration.
If there is a positive energy and ambient and an agreement has officially been made, congrats on landing your gig. Send a thank you email and start planning with success in mind.