And how to charge them whatever rate you want.
Give prospecting a big, wet kiss goodbye and then delete its number because we’re DONE with cold calling, emailing, and DM-ing to find leads.
Does attracting high-paying freelance clients sound too good to be true? For many people, it is. For many freelancers, this method is simply too much work. And that’s fine! Not everyone has time to set up their business in a way that attracts clients who are willing to pay your rates no matter what.
But if you’re not working with your dream clients or are constantly undercharging for fear of losing a contract, it might be time to change your growth strategy.
Let us paint you a picture.
You begin with three freelance clients. Work is consistent, and bills are getting paid, but you want to increase your earnings.
Now you must either take on another client OR increase your rates.
Another client means more work. And many freelancers are stretched thin from their current commitments. On the flip side, increasing your rates could be met with resistance or a lost contract.
Let’s say you choose the rate increase because you don’t want to overcommit. But sadly, one of your clients leaves, and you have an income gap.
You’re panicking because there are bills to pay, and take the first short-term contract you’re offered even though it’s not ideal. You can sacrifice a few months to generate some income… right?
Unless you’re willing to work extra hours finding a new “ideal” client during this contract, you’re in a repetitive cycle of filing income gaps with the “next best thing.”
Play this soundtrack on repeat for a few years, and you’ll meet someone pretty burnt out from freelancing.
So, what is there to do? Read on for our recommendations on how you can attract your ideal freelance clients without prospecting while charging them the rate you deserve!
Breaking the cycle of bad clients.
The first step in attracting your ideal freelance clients is breaking the cycle described above. The clients in this scenario weren’t necessarily “bad.” They just weren’t ideal for your freelance business.
Maybe they paid their bills on time and were good communicators, but their business didn’t excite you. Or you were doing social media management when you wanted to be creating a digital marketing strategy.
Whatever the reason, you need to let them find a freelancer who is excited to be working with them.
Breaking the cycle can be a scary thought because it means you’ll have less (or no) income for a few months, so your mission to attract ideal freelance clients must be a proper commitment.
Be prepared to use your rainy-day fund or start saving so that you can take a few months (1-3 months, depending on how fast you work) to build your freelance business in a way that works for you.
Change your mindset.
Once you’ve broken the cycle of bad clients and have some time to work on your freelance business, you need to work on your mindset.
The cycle described above is that of a scarcity mindset. As it applies to freelancing, a scarcity mindset means you’re jumping at any job or rate that is available because you believe it to be the only option. A scarcity mindset is what keeps you from achieving your freelance goals.
Pursuing an abundance mindset enables you to get into the habit of turning down projects with outrageously low rates. Even if you enjoy the niche, more projects will come along.
An abundance mindset is not competitive. It is not a race to the bottom.
By planning your freelance business with an abundance mindset, you welcome collaboration, knowledge, and growth. Believing the best is yet to come instead of being afraid of replacement is an assertive attitude that not everyone can achieve.
When you dreamt of working for yourself as a freelancer, you didn’t think you’d be working for less than your skills are worth, did you?
Grow and share your knowledge.
Once you have mastered the mindset used to approach your freelance business, you can start refining your growth strategy.
Start with listing your tangible skills.
Tangible skills (or hard skills) are quantifiable. They are the skills your freelance clients are looking for: technical skills, computer skills, specific areas of analytics or marketing, creative capabilities, project management experience, and it goes on.
The list can go on forever, but the more granular, the better. If you have a portfolio, check out your past work and list associated skills and technologies.
For example, a recent rebrand for a company in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry included a logo, website, brand collateral, and packaging design. You used Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for photos and the designs and a Nikon Z50 Mirrorless to shoot. You now have a relatively long list of specific skills and relevant technical experience.
Now you can begin sharing your knowledge on a website that you own.
What you want to do with this knowledge is share it. In a long-form case study, guide, or portfolio brief. On a website that you own.*
Ideally, you’ll segment the case study and process into different sub-headings based on the project requirements.
Answer these questions in your case study:
- What was the inspiration?
- How did the old design look?
- Why did you select the colors/shapes/associated imagery?
- What was the process like, and how long did it take?
- How many revisions were there?
- Were there any challenges, and how were they overcome?
By answering these questions regarding your specific industry, you are establishing yourself as a knowledgeable professional in this subject matter.
Every time you produce content showcasing your completed projects/skills, you reach a broader audience and attract more clients to your site. Highlighting projects you enjoyed working on provides a strong sense of your capabilities and the type of work you do.
You wouldn’t go to a watercolor artist and request a caricature because that’s not their style, right?
The same goes for your online portfolio and case studies. Just because you completed a job doesn’t mean it goes in your portfolio unless you want to work on similar projects in the future.
Here’s how to get the clients to come to you.
Once you have published case studies on your projects, technologies, and enjoyable working experiences, you can get even more specific.
Becoming an expert in a new or niche tool and using it to build your business will award you an inbox full of requests before you know it.
Let’s look at an example:
Entrepreneur, Nat Eliason, used this strategy on more than one occasion. Nat owns a few businesses and has become an expert in multiple technologies implemented throughout them. He uses his expert status to drive leads to his marketing agency, Growth Machine, where using niche tools is an integral part of their success.
In short, Nat has created his exponential growth through niche technology and his expert status in the communities surrounding these technologies. In January 2020, he started an online course called Effortless Output, teaching people how to master Roam, a note-taking tool for networked thoughts. This site had earned $500K by the end of the year. One of his most popular viral articles was this one on the same subject.
Roam is not Nat’s product, but he loves using it and quickly created a course to help others reap the benefits. The course alone makes money but also sends leads to his SEO/content agency. Genius!
Back to abundance.
Let’s revisit your new abundance mindset. Finding a tool you enjoy using and sharing your knowledge (not hoarding it) can broaden your influence, establish subject authority and status, and attract leads.
Once the requests start rolling in, you’ll be able to work with freelance clients in your ideal budget bracket and refer the rest to your friends or other agencies (sometimes for an extra commission)!
Keep in mind; it typically takes a few months for Google to work its magic and start promoting your website in search results. In the meantime, you now have an extensive freelance portfolio to show clients.
After months of creating and publishing content on your freelance website, sharing on social media might be the last thing you want to do. But don’t skip this vital step.
Repurpose the content you’ve already created into short videos, Reels (on Instagram), TikToks, swipe-through posts, or mini LinkedIn case studies and schedule them on your dedicated professional accounts.
Content on social media platforms is short-lasting but highly shareable.
The more you create, the more shareable content is available to freelancers or clients searching for your unique skills. Yet another way to have clients “sliding into your DMs.”
Pro tip: If you want to get back to work right away, you can hire someone to create social media content using your portfolio website.
That’s a wrap.
In short, attracting freelance clients and charging them your desired rate is no easy feat. It’s something many freelancers will never achieve.
If you want to become a power-freelancer with a waitlist a mile long, follow a few simple steps:
- Break the “bad client” cycle.
- Invest in your business by saving a few months of income to create your content.
- Change your mindset from “scarcity” to “abundance.”
- Grow and share your knowledge by focusing on specific tangible skills.
- Repurpose your website case studies into shareable social media posts.
Before you know it, you’ll have more requests than you know how to handle. But until that point, it’s a lot of hard work. Are you ready for it?