How to tout your talent – a freelancer’s getting-started guide

As a creative freelancer, passion fuels your work. But it doesn’t bring you work. To win pitches, you need to think like a client – and package your offering in a way that makes sound business sense to them. Here’s how…

Market your value – not just your craft

Creatives tend to be focused on their craft, but your client isn’t interested in your craft alone. A business hires a freelancer as a means to an end – to answer a specific brief (e.g. to help them acquire more customers).

That’s why it’s important to frame your work so it’s attractive to a client. You need to show them explicitly how you can use your craft as a tool to meet their needs – and demonstrate how you’ll create value.

Think problem-solution

One thing many freelancers struggle with is communicating a clear proposition. So, if you can jump this hurdle, you’ll have an edge on your competitors pitching for the same briefs.

It all comes down to adopting the problem-solution mindset of your clients. When pitching for work, your main emphasis should be on demonstrating how you can supply the solution to their problem. The more value-driven your pitches, the more business you’ll win, the more you’ll grow your network and the more doors will open to you.

To niche, or not to niche?

This is a common dilemma with freelancers. You want to attract lots of clients by showcasing your multifarious talents. But you don’t want to come across as a ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’.

Does that mean you have to choose between being niche or being available to a broader audience? No. But also, yes…

In any situation, you’re only ever pitching to one client at a time. So the trick is to have multiple portfolios and tailor your pitch to each specific job and client. For example, if a client is looking for editorial illustration – show them your illustration portfolio but don’t waste time including your logo design work. Once you’ve got a foot in the door, if opportunities crop up for extra work, that’s when to pull out your extended portfolio.

Remember, what works for one pitch may not work for the next. Use each situation to reassure the client you’re the specialist they’re looking for (even if you secretly specialise in twenty other things too).

How to keep your freelance mojo perky:

Keep to your plan

About to take that leap into the world of freelance? Start by setting yourself some short-term goals such as: “I need to earn £X per month for this to be viable” or “I want to work with X amount of clients by X date.” Don’t jump into freelancing blind – make a roadmap for yourself and work towards it.

Keep communicating

Never stop talking to people – reach out to new contacts and new groups, maintain old connections and keep sharing what you do.

Keep going 

Don’t get knocked down by rejection – it’s an inevitable part of a freelancer’s life. You win some, you lose some – and that’s OK.

Keep your options open

Rather than rely on one or two clients, build up a base so you always have new clients lined up.

Keep being you

Don’t let your passion become a problem. Sometimes a client may request something that pushes your boundaries e.g. by diluting a sense of what you do. Because your creativity is part of you, going against your artistic integrity may feel like going against yourself. On the other hand, your client is paying you and you’re in service to them. To walk this tightrope elegantly, set yourself parameters of what’s OK and what’s not. Know what sacrifices you’re comfortable with.

This how-to guide was inspired by one of our live Zoom Dives – with CEO and Co-Founder of UnderPinned, Albert de Symons Azis-Clauson.

Zoom Dives are deep-delving discussions between our founder, Carolyn Dailey and hand-picked business experts from the creative world. You can listen to Carolyn and Albert’s full discussion here.  

Fancy catching our next Zoom Dive, live? See our Events calendar and sign up for free. 

Meanwhile, feel free to plunder our Knowledge bank for more tips, tools and techniques to help you get started.