Freelance life, The Sharper Point

7 Sure-Fire Recession-Busting Tips for Staying Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

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I don’t know what business conditions are like where you are, but round our way, it’s been tough going for most of 2013.

I want to share seven techniques I have used over the years to win new clients, keep my fees high and avoid sagging into the psychological doldrums.

A happy freelance is a wealthy freelance
A happy freelance is a wealthy freelance

Tip #1 Email everyone who has ever enquired about your services to see whether you can help them now (see also #6).

This works because you have a list of people who you know have thought about buying from you in the past. OK, so they didn’t buy last time but maybe conditions have changed.

I do this from time to time and often get a hit. Most recently, about a month ago.

Tip #2 Rather than drop your fees, add value in other ways, perhaps by offering an additional service that only costs you time.

Yes, money is tight, but that doesn’t mean you have to drop your fees the first time anyone asks you to.

Instead, bundle another service in with your main offer to add value. Copywriters can offer to write a design brief. Consultants can offer a post-project phone consultation.

Tip #3 Use your downtime productively. Make a list of all the marketing jobs you’ve been meaning to do and do them.

I recommend that freelancers spend 20% of their working hours on sales and marketing. During the fat times it’s tempting to pile into the work and let the marketing go hang.

Well, now’s the time to catch up again. Review and, if necessary, update your web copy. Join that networking group in your area. Send that press release.

Tip #4 Arrange to meet a friend or, better still, a client for a coffee.

Social media, pah! For truly uplifting social contact, nothing beats the warm steam off a cappuccino and a half-hour’s gossip with a mate.

Or why not call a client and suggest they let you buy them a coffee? Tell them you have a new service you want to kick around with them to get their input on. They’ll be intrigued and flattered.

Now all you need to do is think of something extra you could sell them.

Tip #5 Look hard at your finances and allocate a fixed amount to invest every month on planned marketing activities.

It doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank: discount what you owe the taxman and need for living, then allocate a proportion to marketing.

You might have enough to buy a mailing list, some Google AdWords advertising or membership dues for your local chamber of commerce.

Tip #6 Make a list of your best three, five, seven or ten clients by spend, over the last 12 months. Telephone them and ask “how’s it going?”

Nobody likes making cold calls. So make warm ones instead.

A little research ahead of the call will give you an angle. Maybe they’ve made some new hires, or moved premises.

Tip #7 Catch up on your reading. Buy a book (not an e-book) – something validated by someone other than the author. Write a review for your blog.

I once read some research that claimed the average businessperson reads one business book a year and one business magazine article a month.

So it’s easy to stay ahead of your clients. Knowing what’s going in in your field gives you an easy edge, something to discuss over coffee and material for your content marketing strategy.

And my point is…

Freelancing is about more than making money. It’s about freedom, independence, a sense of self-belief and self-worth. But all those can take a knock when trading conditions are tough.

These tips will help you stay on an even keel psychologically and, I hope, make you extra money too.

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Other ways we help you

There are plenty more articles about freelancing on our blog.

And every September, I run my Freelancing Masterclass. It’s a chance to try out new skills in a safe, non-threatening environment with other freelancers.

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