Q:  How do you convince potential clients you are good at what you do when there is so much competition? What type of “proof” works best?


The types of ‘proof’ that work best. In order of importance.

1.  When someone else says you are good. “Contact Magda. She’s very good. Knows what she’s doing.”

2. When you act like you’re very good. And show that you know what you’re doing. Like when a potential client calls. You are attentive and interested, you don’t talk too much, especially about yourself. Maybe you offer an idea or two.  (Or write a mesmerizing query.) You follow-up attentively, on time. You do the job, and do not disappoint.

. . .

8.  Samples of your work. Most effective for designers, photographers, illustrators, web developers. Maybe writers, sometimes. Translators? I’m not sure.

9.  What you say on your CV, on your website.  Yes, you have to appear competent. Mention your University degrees if they matter. Who you’ve worked for. What types of work. Have a voice, a viewpoint, a personality.

This is, of course, why we are always hunting and nurturing referrals. That is where dinner is.

That is how every busy freelancer got that way. Referrals will bring you eleven times more steady and lucrative clients than any other tactic I’ve seen.

And here’s a better way to think about ‘all that competition’ out there.

You are not competing with the 92,976 freelancers that show up on Google.  (Me, I wouldn’t get out of bed thinking I’d have to elbow aside 24,163 other writers to land an assignment. Way too much work.)

The kind of clients you want — for whom your work matters — don’t look for freelancers on Google. Eighty thousand choices is no help at all.

Good clients, the kind you want, ask around.

Nor are you competing with the 125 other freelancers listed on some directory. You’re not worrying about the thousands of designers on Sortfolio or Dribbble.

You’re competing with the three or four designers that the Creative Director uses regularly, that Creative Director that you are emailing.

You’re not even competing with the 56 other writers that queried that same editor today. You’re competing with the two or three good queries she has on her desk already.

To win over that client who called you this afternoon, just be smarter and more agreeable than the two other people his colleague told him about.

Most of the time, your real competitors wouldn’t fill a dining room table.

Those odds, you can deal with.


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