At least once a week I’ll get an email from someone who bought my How To Become A Freelancer Ebook.
The email usually goes something like this:
“Hi Harvie, I’ve being doing everything you said in the book and things are going well. But for some reason I can’t break past this barrier of charging more than $x for jobs. I just can’t seem to win them. What should I do?”
Most people think it’s because they charge too much, when in reality you can never charge too much as an online freelancer.
Take me for example, somebody pays me $96 an hour to send their email list one email a week:
It takes me around an hour or so to write it, and if they have promotions, I usually create a series where I’ll bill them several more hours.
So if it’s not because you’re charging too much, then why can’t win jobs and make $96 per hour or more?
Because you’re not listening to what I told you
Because when there’s no competition your price of $30hr, $60hr or even $96hr doesn’t seem crazy or overpriced.
I hire people on these sites and after posting a job I get about 50 applicants.
48 of them aren’t even worth my time and I skip pass them. These are usually candidates from India and the like who are quoting me ‘amazing work’ for $3/hr.
You pay peanuts you get monkeys – I know that.
But most other clients don’t – because they are stupid.
How many times do you go to work and think that everybody you work with is a fucking fuckwit and you cannot understand how they got hired?
You get my point now?
Many will see your bid of $35hr for creating a logo or helping them with email marketing and they will think it’s too much, because all the other online freelancers are low-balling you at $3-$15hr.
These business owners don’t know any better and will usually go with the cheaper option (unless they are smart, they they’d hire me or you) and get crappy work and then re-hire some other crap online freelancer who produces work just as bad at the same rates.
To make money freelancing – you need quality clients.
After you’ve built up your skills I as mentioned in my eBook, you need and find your own clients by searching the Internet along with using sites like Upwork and Freelancer.
How to find your own clients as an online freelancer
Finding clients is very easy when you do exactly what I’m about to tell you.
Let’s say I’m a graphic artist and web designer and I want to get new clients, what would Harvie do (WWHD)?
I’d look for my target market
Who is my target market? In this example, it’s businesses that generate a lot of business online but have poorly optimized websites that need some TLC.
I’m in the travel niche so I would go and reach out to websites in the same niche. I’d look for the following:
Age of website – the older the website the better. This means they’ve been in operation for a while and most likely have a bigger marketing budget than some new startup.
New websites are generally created by these digital nomads who are working on a budget. Ain’t nobody got time for them.
Social media followers – the more followers they have across all social media platforms is a (weak) indicator that they hold some authority and receive some levels of traffic.
Traffic is key because if the website is receiving a decent amount of traffic it will usually mean they are making money.
If I want to charge $96hr for my services, I must qualify whether the business is making enough money else I’ll be wasting my time pitching them services they cannot afford.
You can also check blogs to see how many comments they get, their Alexa Rank and a bunch of other stuff which give you indicators to how successful they may be.
Must be a small business – Avoid targeting brands or businesses that have so many employees that it will be impossible for you to talk directly to the owner. I always look for small local business in my home town, or in Bangkok.
Smaller businesses are unlikely to have content writers, web designers, marketing experts and the like.
If you use the contact form and get a reply for a customer service staff, you must ask for the email address of the owner, or do some recon on LinkedIn to find their email.
In the past I used to get canned responses from customer support, but I found directly sending a message with the owner’s name in the email and making it very personalized forces customer support to forward it to the Big Boss.
Their website must suck – As I’m offering web services, their website must suck in order for me to fix it.
If you’re a writer, check their blog and see whether it’s performing badly (zero comments, no social media shares etc), or if they don’t have one – even better. When you email them you can state all the benefits of having a blog and how they will make more sales because of it.
Sending cold emails
Now let’s say I’ve found a prospect who needs a website redesign that matches my parameters. At this point is when I’d send them an email.
But I don’t email them with a sales pitch of why they should pay for my services, because that’s too spammy and my email will go straight in the trash.
Almost every single website is getting spammed by SEO services and the like in 2015, if you follow this approach you won’t get far.
Instead, I’ll reach out saying how much I like their website and products (and how I live very close to their business). I’ll make reference to one of their blogs posts and try and relate it to Thailand (or my home city in England) to further show them that I’m not some spammer.
I’ll read their about us to see if I can leverage that into the first email to show them that I actually know a little something about their business and took the time to browse their website.
The goal of this email is to simply catch their attention. The more personalized the email is the more likely they will reply. I found complementing them and putting their first name in the subject line gets a 90% reply rate.
In the second email I’d look at their website and try to find an error. Perhaps a page that doesn’t load, a button that doesn’t work, a typo or anything else that makes them look less professional that they would appreciate.
When they reply to that I’d be like:
“Hey, no problems man, I’ve usually got a sharp eye for spotting problem points on websites. I have a web design and business background, and spent the last 4 years traveling and helping businesses optimize their website so they can generate more leads and customers.
I noticed a few big issues on your site as well, if you want me to run a free audit on your website, you’re more than welcome to ask, I love doing this kind of stuff anyway.”
3 emails deep and I’ve popped them with a sales pitch and they don’t even know.
At this point, I’ve pretty much bent the client over, pulled down their pants, applied some KY jelly and they’re about to be pounded without even realizing it.
It’s key that you mention how they can benefit from your help, for example in the email above I stated how I helped someone like them generate more leads and sales.
What business wouldn’t want more leads and sales?
If they want the free audit, you do your stuff and take it from there.
You’re up against zero competition and since you’ve already helped them with a free audit, they will feel inclined to return the favor.
Lead with value first
People on the Internet don’t take shit from anyone. You can’t send spam emails and think that’s the road to success in any online venture.
Lead with value first ( email 2 where I did them a small favor by pointing out a few website issues followed by a free audit in email 3) and they will return the favor. This is known as the reciprocity rule:
Give them something for nothing and you’ll be surprised how receptive they will be.
That’s how you become a master freelancer
It’s important to get started on freelance websites I suggested in my book, but as I also mentioned in the final chapter that the best way to get clients and charge more cash is to find your own clients.
There’s no shortage of them either, just think how many businesses in your home town have crappy websites or blogs or social media accounts that you can improve.
If I’m getting paid $96 per hour to write emails, then there’s no reason why you can’t be paid the same amount or more to create websites, draw logos, help with translation, write articles, code websites, make apps or anything else.
Have a question? Leave a comment below.