The topic of freelancing during COVID-19 came up today on a customer group call. I was asked a question you might be asking right now too:
How can I approach businesses without looking like an insensitive a*hole during these Covid times?
WEW. It was such an interesting discussion that I wanted to share some of what we discussed here. Freelancers (and often even agency owners) often say things like:
Below is an actual quote from one of my customers on the call:
The majority of my freelance career I’ve thought “the only way I can get clients is if they magically come to me.” I’ve read lots about how to do cold outreach but it is the opposite of what my introverted self wants to do. And half the time it makes me debate if I’m even cut out for client work. I hope I can learn some extremely straightforward processes so my feelings don’t even play into it anymore, and then how to outsource it so that I can avoid all those feelings that hold me back completely.
What’s great about these realizations is that once we realize that our feelings are the core reason we’re putting something off, we can finally address and change it.
Luckily, there’s a hack for this. Alex Hillman, one of my 30×500 instructors, sums it up nicely:
The easiest way to get out of your own head, is to get into someone else’s.
Let’s take another look at those freelancer quotes above. What do you notice this time?
Yup. They’re all 100% focused on the freelancer who wrote them. Bonus points if you count how man “I’s” are use.
None of them mention the client’s needs or feelings in any way.
When you think about it this way, it’s no wonder these freelancers feel selfish. If you’re only taking your own needs into account, it IS selfish to email a client.
But, look, I get it.
You’re worried about losing work. You’ve probably already lost a few clients due to COVID-19. If you have, that sucks. I’m sorry to hear it.
But I promise you, only focusing on your problems won’t help you get through this. It also won’t feel great.
I believe focusing on your client’s needs right now can help you keep – and even grow – your business.
Below I’m going to share the exact email template you can use this week to do all of the above. But first let me be clear.
The point of this email isn’t JUST to get you work. Yes, that is a natural by-product of sending an email focused on your client, BUT this email will primarily help you PROVIDE MORE VALUE TO YOUR CLIENTS, SO YOU CAN FEEL AMAZING.
If you reach out to clients and say: Hey I need work, give me work then you suck.
Clients are struggling too. They don’t care about what you need. Instead open lines of communication to give even more value than you receive.
Okay so with that disclaimer out of the way, what’s the right way to approach your clients? What will it even mean for your business if you do this the right way?
I want to share another quote.
It’s by a member who recently tried emailing her network. Here’s what happened:
I recently sent out an email to 100 people I had in my contacts list (personal email contacts & connections) telling them I was available for work as a full-time independent creative and the kind of work I could do for them.
That email led to 3 immediate leads, 1 of which turned into a real project I wanted, and 2 conversations/catching up chats that became work opportunities within the next 2 months.
It was very unlike my instinct to send a mass email like that, but it worked and helped boost me through my first few months as a full-time freelancer.
Bravo. What I love about this quote is that this person acknowledged her feelings by saying “it was very unlike their instinct” BUT THEN DID IT ANYWAY.
When you internalize this, all of the doors standing between you and success unlock.
I believe you can do that today and even have a template for creating similar results to the one above.
Remember: if you’re going to make real progress, the first step is rewriting the unhelpful scripts you’re telling yourself.
No email template is going to fix the negative guttural response you have to marketing, unless you address your feelings and take a different approach.
Without that, you’ll still feel wrong … and worse clients will feel that too.
Here’s how. Take your biggest pain point or stress about reaching out to your client. Something you tell yourself or your friends every day. For example, something like:
“I feel weird doing marketing right now”
Awesome. Now flip that around.
Add a big fat BUT to the end, and finish it, except this time focusing solely on the well-being of your client. For example:
“I feel weird doing marketing right now BUT LOOK my clients NEED help right now, maybe more than ever … I can’t abandon them, I have to help them.”
Whoa. When you put your focus on helping others instead of yourself, isn’t it amazing how quickly everything can change?
Pushing past that initial selfishness, is hard when it’s only to serve yourself.
But when you push past in the name of helping someone else, it’s suddenly easy.
Let’s do some more:
“I’m introverted BUT there are a lot of businesses out there that need my help, I shouldn’t expect them to magically find / come to me.”
“I haven’t gotten a response from those clients I emailed last week BUT they’re busy. I’ll make their lives easier by following up.”
I love it. Not only does it hack your brain into creating more value for your clients, it feels great.
To be truly successful you need to internalize success.
This has been one of the most powerful methods for accomplishing it in my business. And the best way to do it is by talking to clients. Either by email, phone, zoom call – whatever.
In fact, I’ve had dozens of customer research calls this month. Each one felt amazing. My Endless Clients beta program call was one of the best things I’ve done in years. (I may be doing another soon.)
And so my advice is simple: reach out to all of your clients and make them an offer.
Give them some value.
Offer to talk.
Then get on a call and listen.
Focus 100% on how you can provide value to them.
Hi Client Name,
How are you?
I wanted to reach out to thank you again for being an awesome client. Because of clients like you I’m able to be in business … and I want to give back.
To help out right now, I’m waving my normal hourly rate and giving past clients like you a free monthly strategy call to help with whatever you need through July.
We can discuss some fresh [design/development/writing/seo] ideas of course, or just chat about your business in general? However, you want to spend the time is fine with me.
Just send me a message and we can put you on my schedule.
That’s it. No pitch. No funnel. Just value-first.
Don’t let the fear sink in. Just hit send. Then deliver as much value as you can for your clients.
If you do, and it works for you send me an email and tell me what happened. I’d love to hear your story.
I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: 85% freelancers/agencies will shoot themselves in the foot in their next email because they make ONE common mistake that repels clients away.
Are you sending this client repelling email?
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