This review features the Varidesk ProPlus30, which was kindly gifted to me. I’ve been curious about standing desks for a while. I’ve heard about some
As some of you may know, one of the things I do during the work week is teach young people about career skills – from CVs and cover letters to hunting down the perfect job. One of the things that they get very excited about is, Trovit. Trovit is a bit like Google Alerts, but for jobs rather than for mentions online. Every day, you’ll get an email digest of all the jobs that fit your specifications across all the big job sites – so it’s a bit like having your own virtual recruiter.
While this is great for students and graduates looking to land a job, it’s also a great tool for a freelancer – it also checks out sites like Elance and PeoplePerHour.
(This isn’t a promoted post, I just really like this tool)
Got five minutes? Let’s set up a Trovit alert.
Step 1: Head to Jobs at Trovit
Step 2: Pop in the search that you want to go for.
I’ve gone for Freelance in London as it brings up the most results, but I have regular alerts for Blogger and Freelance Online Editor.
Step 3: Finalise and enter your email
Happy with your search? Lovely. Hit the ‘Receive the latest job listings by email’ section and enter your email. That’s it! Now every day you’ll get an email summarising all the awesome freelance gigs you could apply for.
Bonus tip: Set up a divert so it lands in a special sub folder in your email. I’ve got it set up through IFTTT so it lands in my Pocket app to read on the tube.
Now you can sit back and let the job offers roll in (kidding – this is just something to compliment the pitching you’re already doing, not replace it). Why not Pin this post for later?
UPDATE: They have an app too!
I’m not really in the habit of telling little white lies or giving the impression I’m the perfect freelancer. Telling porkies tends to only adds pressure to others (and a whole heap on myself). I like to be honest with you – whether it’s about the state of my accounts or a change in the approach I’m taking. I love freelancing, but it’s not all onesie Wednesdays and tweeting for brands.
So, here’s my truth this week: I have been a lazy freelancer in 2014…in terms of finding new clients. Work has been happily busy, but I’ve lapsed a little bit in terms of hunting down new clients. When things are going well, it’s easy to let these things slip – and you only realise when something happens to a regular client and you’re in a state of panic about finding more regular income.
Chatting in the Facebook group for my Freelance Lifestyle Ecourse Alumni, several others felt the same – whether they’re brand new freelancers or experienced. So, in the spirit of adopting an accountable approach where we can share tips and set ourselves goals, I’m renaming today ‘Pitch Slap Wednesday’. Today, I want to make step to hunting down some new clients – and I want you to join me!
So, here’s what to do. Choose three things from the list below, and put them into action today. There are a mix of tasks that take between a few minutes and a couple of hours, so even if you’re tight for time you should still be able to do something.
- Update social media bios with your latest info and keywords – 10 minutes
- Find a local networking event, and book your place/email the organiser – 45 minutes
- Update PeoplePerHour/Hourlie/website bidding site bios – 45 minutes
- Look up the hashtag for your local area on Twitter, and have a browse for potential opportunities. Tweet using the hashtag – 15 minutes
- Pull up Google, and look for the local business parks. Look at the businesses, and consider whether it’s worth dropping a leaflet/pack round to them in the next week with more information on what they do – 60 minutes
- Check out some of the groups on LinkedIn and Google+ that link up to the service or skill you offer – 30 minutes
- Check out the services page on your website. Is it doing you justice? Is it SEO friendly? Spend some time auditing it, and some time on Google Keywords working out which terms work best – 60-120 minutes
- Ask around – you’ll probably be surprised by how many of your friends and family don’t really understand what you do. Explain it in terms of what they’d need, and you’ll probably find one or two will have a lead for you – 60 minutes
- Check out some online job sites you’ve never used – 90 minutes
- Get in contact with previous clients, to see if they have any needs. Also, consider offering them a referral incentive if they don’t have anything for you but know someone who does – 30 minutes
- Consider a special offer – whether it be a 30 minute taster session, discount if they pre-book several months work or a free ebook when they purchase your services. – 30 minutes
- *NEW* Give LinkedIn Pulse’s new blogging platform a try – a great way to reach out to business contacts – 1 hour
- *NEW* Create a Slideshare presentation to share publicly (this is on my list today!) – 1 hour
- *NEW* Check in with your previous clients, to see if they have any needs – 30 minutes
How will you boost your freelance business today?
Here’s a scenario:
You have four clients.
- One low maintenance client, who only requires a little work each month
- One great client who brings in about a third of your income and requires about a third of your time
- One occasional client, who tends to pop in with work that needs a very quick turnaround
- One client who sits at the high end of the maintenance scale, and makes up over half of your monthly income
Juggling several clients can be difficult, and no client is the same. High maintenance clients are fine – as long as the pay off is good and you know how to deal with them! Equally, low maintenance clients are a dream, but don’t fall into the habit of dropping your standards or your fees for them.
So, how do you juggle a varied selection of clients?
- Analyse your clients, their needs and how much time they’ll require. Stick it in a fancy diagram if that’s your bag
- Set boundaries. If a client pays for three days a month, make it clear that any extra over that will be charged (or that they’ll have to wait until the following month for you to continue). There are a bundle of apps for tracking how long you’ve worked.
- Set contact hours. If a client is being high maintenance, make sure you’ve set hours that you can be contacted.
- Contact ALL your clients on a regular basis. A simple email to update or check in can pick up on any problems early, and keep your clients happy
- That occasional client? Suggest a retainer. If work tends to pop up on a monthly basis, charging a retainer may encourage them to think ahead a little more (call me an optimist!)
- Work in blocks of time where possible. Dedicating a morning to one client and an afternoon to another can make it easier to separate workloads. Easier than jumping between lots of different tasks
- Manage your email smarter. If you find you’re a slave to your email, consider restricting checking your email to blocks in the day.
How do you juggle clients?
This week’s A-Z of freelancing is ‘bad clients’, voted for by the fans over on The Freelance Lifestyle Facebook page.
I can see why they want it covered. Dealing with bad clients is tricky, time-consuming and frustrating. It can take freelancing from fun to a big fat fail.
I’ve discussed before that bad clients come in lots of different disguises, in my post Five difficult clients and how to deal with them. You’ve got late payers, the goal post changers, the vague ones, the ones that expect you to be on call 24/7 and the manipulative ones.
In that post, I’ve outlined how to deal with bad clients. But how do you spot them and avoid them in the first place?
It’s not always easy. But there are some things you can do.
- Do your research. Have a search of their business online, on Twitter and Facebook. It’s best to know the full picture before you go forward.
- Offer a consultation session. This is a great way to get to know them and their business without a commitment.
- Go with your gut. If your gut isn’t sure, either don’t go for it (or make sure you charge enough to make it worth it!)
- Send your Terms of Business, and don’t work with them until they’ve agreed to them (on paper/email). Include your hours, the maximum use of free revisions if applicable, where your work can be used and payment terms.
- Ask for an initial payment, if it’s a big project. This will weed out the flighty ones, and often the late payers too.
- Be firm and confident. Potential clients that constantly request or expect a discount don’t respect your work – and are therefore likely to be tricky further down the line.
Chances are, you’ll pick up the odd bad client here and there. To be completely blunt, a well-paid project can often blind us to downsides of a particular client. And even great clients can occasionally become bad clients. The key is how you deal with them.
How do you spot bad clients?
The little favour
I have a little favour to ask of you, dear readers.
Remember a few weeks ago when I told you about Task Squad, a project that helps young people get paid temporary work? Helping young people find work is something I’m really passionate about, and I know the team at Vinspired are just as passionate about it.
As a disclosure, my friends Sam and Lea from The High Tea Cast are involved with this (in fact, Task Squad was an idea pitched by Sam to her bosses)
Anyway, the favour. Task Squad is up for the Google Global Impact Award. There are just 10 UK organisations up for this award. This is a huge deal for them, and could lead to a £500k award that could help 270,000 young people get access to paid work over the next 3 years. So I’m asking for your votes, which takes just a second to do. You don’t need to give any info, just click the ‘vote’ button.
Want to know a little more? Jump on the Twitter Q&A on 28 May from 1-2pm.
This week’s Freelance Lifestyle Tea Break Challenge is about something a lot of freelancers worry about. We spend hours trying to deal with it. It’s one of the biggest problems freelancer face. It makes us envious of those that get a set payday every month.
Late payments from clients.
Chasing clients for payments is one of the most frustrating parts of being freelance. Chances are, you’ve heard a dozen different excuses as to why a client doesn’t pay on time.
But there are two steps you can take to either improve the speed of their payment, or discourage late payers. When I put these two steps into place, 60% of my clients started paying my invoices within one week of receiving the invoice. These were clients that previously avoided paying my invoices within 30 days – so this made a big difference to my business.
Want to know what those two steps are? Check out this week’s three-minute, Freelance Lifestyle Tea Break Challenge
Do you use these two steps? What results have you seen?
It’s Monday, which means it’s time for the latest freelance challenge. For those new to the blog (welcome!), the Weekly Freelance Challenge is a post where I set a challenge for myself and my fellow freelancers. Sometimes, the challenges are purely business-related, and sometimes they’re about achieving a better work/life balance.
This week is a follow up on last week’s challenge. Last week, I asked you to write a list of your dream clients. Did you find an hour to scribble down who you’d love to work for? Excellent. This week, I want you to pitch to one of them.
If you haven’t pitched to anyone before, this can be a hugely intimidating task. Let’s go old school though, and break it down into ‘bite-sized chunks’ (anyone else having GCSE revision flashbacks?)
Don’t forget to think outside the box. Send a client an infographic of your pitch, a video or a podcast. It’s not always suitable, but sometimes it can help you stand out.I’m going to be doing this later this week. If you’ve pitched before, I’d love to hear any tips you might have – just leave them in the comments below.
- Look at what the potential client is currently doing. Do your research – better to be knowledgable about their business than look clueless if they ask further questions. Have a look on LinkedIn, google the company and check out the industry news if you don’t already.
- Look at what they might be missing, and how you can help. Try and nail down exactly why what you can offer is unique. It might be a particular case study, a contact or information they can’t find elsewhere.
- Draft an email. Clients potentially get lots of pitches, so keep it brief, to the point and clear.
- If you’re pitching to an editor, give them a hint of what you want to write about, but don’t go into too much detail. Sadly some magazines and newspapers will say no to you, but give your idea to their in-house team as freelance budgets are tight.
- Don’t talk prices. Yet. But do give them a link to your website or portfolio. If your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and filled with recommendations from previous clients, send that too.
- Get a couple of friends/family members to check it through. Then hit send.
Will you be taking part in this week’s Freelance Challenge?
It’s that time of year when we all start to reflect on what we’ve done so far this year. I know I’ve been doing that a lot recently, after a tough but really interesting year. It’s easy to get to the point where you find yourself treading water, relying on your current client base and not thinking about the future. So now is the time to reassess what you’re currently doing, and what you want to do going forward.
This week’s task is a simple one to get the planning procedure rolling. Make a list of your dream clients. It might be a list of all the brands you’d love to work for, or an outline of the kind of client you want to work with. This will help you focus your plan for 2013.
Here’s some things to think about when drawing up your list:
- Do you want to work with big or small businesses? A mixture of both?
- Which brands do you admire? Why?
- Do you want your dream clients to have a particular ethical approach?
- Would you prefer to work with charities?
- Do you want to work with a certain sector e.g. fashion/tech/food?
- What would you like to bring to those clients?
So, who would be on your dream client list? Share your thoughts below!
Difficult clients. Eurgh.
At one point or other, all freelancers have to deal with The Difficult Client. Every difficult client is different – there’s the fussy clients (you will literally never please them), the ‘always one last thing to do that’s not part of the original contract’ clients, the never-reply-to-email clients or, my least favourite, the never-pay-on-time clients.
In an ideal world, we’d all love to avoid difficult clients. It’s great to have some clients that push us to constantly improve, but those ones that drain us and take up more time than they should are only worth going for if you’re passionate about the cause – or, to be realistic, they pay the bills.
How do you deal with difficult clients? Strict no-go policy, or work on a case-by-case basis? Vote in the poll below, then let me know your experiences with difficult clients!
What’s your worst client experience?
Image: Flickr user eamoncurry123