Once the pandemic got into full swing, freelance businesses worldwide were forced to make a decision: Either pivot and double down on finding new clients and building your brand or risk losing their business.
Working remotely as a freelance business presents a range of challenges, not capturing leads. Instead of relying on someone else to generate leads for you, you must do it yourself. And unless you take care of this aspect of your business, your whole business could sink. Without a solid client base, you’ll be spending too much time constantly trying to source new ones.
To succeed at remote lead capturing, you need to place a strategy. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how to do just that.
Before going for the sale, your small business should first look to offer value. This means giving your prospective clients something that makes them feel as though you’re already helping solve their problems before they purchase your services. Essentially, you’re creating a sense of positivity and goodwill around your brand, which is decisive for building those early relationships.
How do you create value?
You could launch a content marketing campaign in the form of a blog that positions you as the expert in your niche. Via content, you can share solutions and ideas, answer popular questions that people typically have about your place and business, and ultimately educate your audience.
To create value via a content marketing campaign, you must define your audience and goals. Ask yourself who your prospective audience is and what they desire the most right now. What questions do they need to be answered? What problems do they need solving? What can they perhaps do themselves without your assistance right now?
There are a few tools to help in this regard. You can use some online tools to understand more about the types of questions people ask in your niche, which you can then base content around.
Another helpful tool is BuzzSumo, which shows you the type of content your competitors are already producing. Then, you can simply reverse engineer what they’re doing and make your content even better. To do this, you can use the skyscraper technique, which is when you look for weaknesses in a competitor’s content (such as missing data, a lack of case studies, etc.) and add them to yours.
That all said, creating value isn’t just about solving problems and answering questions. It’s also about telling your stories and sharing your experiences as a small freelancing business. Who are you, and what do you do? Why should people care about you? What brought you to this current situation? What did you do previously?
Telling stories is a powerful way of making an early connection with prospects because accounts allow us to teach and inspire. It also allows us to unite ourselves with others, show them what we have in common, and create powerful emotional bonds. Plus, telling stories reveals your human side, which is essential for establishing early connections.
Create a Lead Magnet
A lead magnet is a thing of value you exchange for a prospect’s email address. Typically, businesses will use webinars, cheat sheets, checklists and eBooks as lead magnets. As a freelancer, it’s a good idea to create a piece of content that goes some way to help your prospects solve a particular problem.
The catch is that leads are attracted to your lead magnet precisely because of their perceived value. In other words, the prospective client must believe that what they’re getting from this exchange is better than what you’re getting (their email address, which you can later use to reach out to them).
The lead magnet’s purpose is simple: Capture the lead’s email address and put them on your email list. Then, you can launch an email marketing campaign that gives you a direct channel to your information. This allows you to build a proper relationship with them and pitch offers.
As a freelancer, your lead magnet needs to:
- Showcase your work
- Qualify your expertise and authority in this niche
- Come with a CTA (call to action) that tells the lead what to do next
- Address a client’s pain point
- Solve part of their problem (but not all – otherwise, they’d not need to hire you)
What does a lead magnet for freelancers look like? It depends entirely on your line of work.
For example, a remote social media marketer could create a remote social media marketing cheat sheet that helps prospective clients launch their social media marketing campaign. The idea is that the client gets so much value from the cheat sheet that they decide to hire a freelancer to do the work.
Creating value is a crucial part of how you position yourself. The next piece of the puzzle is to establish credibility. When you create value and establish credibility, you can position yourself as an expert in your niche, which is key to capturing more leads. And instead of you constantly having to source leads, they will come to you.
Credibility begins with a professional website. If you’re not the best at web design, it’s a brilliant idea to invest some of your budgets in a web designer. This will ensure that your website a) looks reputable, b) fits in with your overall branding, and c) has the best possible chances of ranking on Google (more on this later).
Your website should consist of:
- A landing page that introduces yourself and presents an offer
- Client testimonials
- Fresh, updated content (see above)
- FAQ page
- “About Me” section
To establish credibility, you need to create more than just a website, however. You also need to promote yourself on social media, especially LinkedIn, as this will help to spread your reputation and increase your network.
A social network site like LinkedIn is a great place to create an engaging profile that showcases your talents and expertise to a wide range of potential leads. You should make a bio that sells yourself and your skills, and you should look to update your page with new, valuable content on the regular. This will allow you to reach more leads.
You can also use your profile to promote previous work you’ve done for clients and to share testimonials again.
In summary, to establish credibility, your website and social profiles should:
- Contain a professional picture
- Share helpful content
- Highlight your best work via a portfolio
- Contain positive client testimonials
- Where possible, a list of certifications
- List of skills
Use Cold Outreach
Freelancers who have never sold anything before and who aren’t “born salespeople” might not be comfortable with the idea of cold outreach. But cold outreach is an excellent way to source and capture more leads if you get it right. This is because you will often contact clients who need you but who previously didn’t know you existed.
Because cold outreach email needs to focus on the quality of the leads instead of their quantity, you, first of all, need to generate possible leads. Write down their business name, their website, the name of the person you’ll be contacting, and their contact details.
If you’re not sure where to find these leads, you could either use a business directory like Google My Business or a social network site like LinkedIn, which is rich with businesses who are potential leads. However, when using a site like LinkedIn to source leads for cold outreach, you must identify who to contact (for example, the marketing manager or the marketing director).
Once you’ve drawn up a list of leads, the next step is to decide how you’re going to reach out to them. If you’ve never done cold outreach before and the idea seems a bit daunting to you, the best method is to email them or reach out to them on their social site/professional network. An alternative would be to phone them.
If you decide to email your leads, creating an email template will save you a lot of time, as you can just tweak it where you see fit, depending on who you’re emailing. A cold outreach email must be brief (a few paragraphs will do), it needs to clearly outline your reasons for contacting the lead (business proposal), and it needs to include the benefits involved with using your services. Keep things simple and to the point, but always open the conversation lines.
If, however, you find that email isn’t working and no one is replying, you can always follow up with a second email, or you can follow up on their social channels (preferably LinkedIn).
If and when a lead does reply, it’s a good idea to arrange a video chat to discuss things further. You could also invite charges to a virtual event, where you pitch yourself to prospects.
Earlier, we spoke about the importance of establishing credibility via a professional website. A key ingredient to a professional website is SEO.
SEO is the process of optimizing your website for search engines. The more optimal your SEO efforts are, the higher your remote freelance business page will rank on Google. This will then help you attract qualified organic traffic because more people will see it.
For example, if you run a freelance graphic design business in Florida, a lead might find you typing “best freelance graphic design Florida” into Google.
In other words, you can use SEO to help you source and capture leads.
SEO is, of course, a complex and ongoing process, and many businesses prefer to invest a portion of their budget in an SEO agency that does the hard work for them. If you simply don’t have the money to do that, here are some ways you can boost your SEO:
- Maintain a blog (update it regularly with fresh, valuable, and helpful content)
- Research keywords and add them to all your pages (including your blogs)
- Add images and use Alt Tags
- Optimize your URLs
- Use external links (link to other, authoritative websites, preferably those in your niche)
- Use internal links (links between your other pages)
Leverage Live Chat
Finally, don’t forget to utilize every opportunity to collect email addresses. When visitors land on your site wanting a quick answer, they will go straight to your chat before picking up the phone or taking the time to send an email. Chat isn’t only for customer support. Many people forget can use live chat to capture leads.
The specifics will vary; the key is to ask for an email address.
Now, you’ve got a lead!
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Just because you have an email address doesn’t mean that you can send marketing messages. It’s crucial to stay in compliance with GDPR/The CAN-SPAM Act.
You need express permission to send sales messages via email in a nutshell. You can often create a raving fan just by providing excellent support and service on the bright side. During the resolution process, just ask permission to sign up for your newsletter. Better yet, include a link to your sign-up form in your support email signature.
The last thing you want to do as a freelancer is to chasing new clients. Put in place a strategy using the above tips to source and capture more leads remotely so that you can spend more time nurturing client relationships – and producing great work.