Since the Great Recession caused havoc to the global economy in the last decade, unemployment rates have skyrocketed both in the US and most parts of the world. Combine that with the growth of Internet and globalization, and you have even fewer opportunities in the traditional 9 to 5 office and factory jobs. As a result, young people have found themselves in a position where they have to adapt to the changes or suffer financial death.
As globalization takes shape and the Internet continues to take center stage in our lives, a good number of millennials are increasingly choosing the freedom and flexibility of working at home. A joint study by the Freelancers Union and Upwork put the number of freelancers in the United States alone at 55 million – about 35% of the nation’s workforce.
Nonetheless, the freelance market just like the traditional job market is largely controlled by the older generation. Young freelancers, in their quest for survival in these tough times, therefore, have to be creative in their client introductions and project applications to beat the competition and captivate the older bosses. Below are 7 tips on how to effectively do that:
1. The Start of Great Client Introductions
Your client introductions, starting with your applications, determine to a large extent if the recipient will read the details or move on to the next one. It is what differentiates your email pitch or resume from hundreds of others that they have to read. Compelling, captivating, and attractive client introductions give the impression that you’ve done your research well and leave no doubt as to your qualifications for the tasks.
Most, if not all, online clients prefer applicants to send in their pitches via email. And what better way to make your client introductions stand out from the rest than by giving it a great title? For instance, if the client wants to boost their site performance, you’ll stand better chances of getting the project if you have a title like “My 10 Point Plan for Driving Traffic to (insert website)” as opposed to “Application for the Project” or something like that. Why? The former will get the client interested in seeing your so-called plan while the latter will most likely make them roll their eyes, especially if they have posted multiple projects.
Also, it’s always good to have gender-neutral salutations unless you have some scoop on the client’s gender. A “Good Day” or even a simple “Hello” is way more polite and effective than “Dear Sir/Madam.” If you can, avoid using Mrs. to address female clients unless they introduce themselves as such. Addressing recipients by their names instead of positions or other general titles also creates a great connection and gives a human feel to the exchange. But don’t assume that you are on a first-name basis unless the client has introduces themselves or signed their name as such.
2. Age Doesn’t Matter!
We have seen uncountable pitches and proposals with a variation of “Hi, I’m Michael, a 24-year-old copywriter…” As a millennial, you probably feel that your age and implied experience will impress the client and they will give you a project right away. However, nothing is farther from the truth. Mentioning your age in your first conversation with the client, especially if they’re from the previous generation, is an indicator of low self-esteem and insecurity. It shows that you’re not sure of your abilities and experience and have to draw attention to how young you are to lure the client based on your implied ‘potential.’ Additionally, some clients may use your age as an excuse to pay peanuts.
Remember, clients are not looking for the youngest person but credible, experienced, and reliable freelancers who will add value to their projects. Therefore, avoid talking about your age in your client introductions and the ensuing conversations unless a client asks.
3. Length Does Matter
To answer the oft-asked question, yes, length does matter. At least in this context.
When writing client introductions, keep in mind that you are not the only one doing so. Probably tens or even hundreds of other qualified, if not more qualified, freelancers have their eyes set on the same project. The client has to, in addition to their day-to-day activities, go through all the applications and hopefully arrive at a suitable applicant. They don’t have the time to read through paragraph after paragraph of lies, exaggerations, and narcissistic narrations that some freelancers are known for writing.
To save everyone’s time, it’s best to keep client introductions short, simple, and straightforward. Only include information like your portfolio or experience, contact information, rates and why you think you should be hired for the task. Everything you write should touch on the exact project listed or your expertise in particular, relevant fields. Above all, ensure that your client introductions are no more than 400 words altogether to give the client a chance to read through it all in a minute or less. If you can’t be convincing enough with that number of words, we suggest going for extra communication lessons before taking further steps into freelance work.
4. Be Precise
When applying for any project, always assume that the client is not well-versed with all the technical bits it involves. Therefore, do not include any technical or industry jargon in your client introductions. Just outline what you intend to deliver if given the opportunity using understandable and straightforward language. Don’t dumb it down, either, though, as this can be extremely insulting.
For example, if someone wants a web designer to create a WordPress website for them, don’t go telling them about PHP or SQL scripts or other aspects of code unless they ask or specify the same. They may not even be aware of any of that in the first place, and you don’t want to make your customer look like a fool. Instead, say “the site will have custom themes and functional features that will allow for dynamic content and access to databases.” In the spirit of being concise with words and encompassing with information, we’ll conclude by saying that whenever in doubt, Keep It Simple!
5. Be Open and Clear
In your pitch, outline clearly what your services will include, and your rates. Do not leave anything to chance as it could lead to conflicts in the future and spoiled business as a consequence. Taking the example of the website development project above, specify the scope of your work as web development is a huge field and it’s easy for both you and client to get lost in the middle. Does it stop at programming or will you provide hosting services too? Does the quoted cost cover everything? What are the delivery time frames? What are the key deliverables? You get the drift.
6. Be Honest and Truthful
How many times have you replied to a posting requiring more experience than you have, somehow got the project, and thereafter became overwhelmed by the workload? Well, if it makes you feel better, honesty when it comes to listing experience is something that a lot of freelancers struggle with. It doesn’t matter how broke you are or how much you need to get a new project. Just don’t exaggerate your experience or skills. For one, you will easily get found out if the client asks you something technical. Secondly, you will be jeopardizing your career as that client will certainly not come back when they realize that you are a fraud, and will likely report you. If you work with a freelance agency or through a marketplace site, it could lead to lower ratings and consequently, less people will hire you, or you could be removed from the network.
As a principle, be truthful in your client introductions. If you don’t have enough experience but desperately need the work, say so outright and add that you are willing to learn or adapt to requirements. Let the client decide if they’re going to trust you with their project. They may be willing to pay a lower rate than what the experts are charging, willing to take you on even though you’ll probably take longer to finish. Who knows, they might be impressed by your honesty and consider that more important than experience. They may even retain you for more manageable tasks in future. Don’t lead a client on just to submit poorly done work. It doesn’t take much to be a decent human being, does it?
7. Be Patient
Yes, you desperately need that project to pay your bills, but sending a thousand emails to a prospective client saying the same thing won’t get you anywhere. At best, it will get you added to their spam list, and there goes your golden opportunity. If your experience and charisma are good enough, a single application is enough. All you need to do is follow all the above tips to write great client introductions. Don’t send additional mail until you get a reply – apart from perhaps a single follow-up if youhaven’t heard back in a week. Impatience only leads to disappointment. If you still don’t get a reply, it probably just wasn’t your day. It doesn’t mean that you’re not good enough. Be grateful for every opportunity and graceful in the face of failure.
Above all, be patient with yourself. Iinstead of getting angry or frustrated with every rejection, do something to improve your skills or qualifications for future opportunities. The future is for the patient, they say.
Now that you’ve (hopefully) learned something new, make it work for you in your freelancing endeavors. The best way is to combine three or more tips for every pitch that you write, add a dose of common sense, and your chances will undoubtedly be boosted. When you do land your dream project, remember to drop by on your way to the bank and say hi!
Jake Lester is an essay writer that is currently writing for theessaywriter.net. The most recurring themes he covers are education, writing and marketing. He has his own writing style and this is why he is appreciated by readers. You may look through Facebook, Twitter & Google+.