As a small time freelancer just starting out you’ve probably wondered how you can ever begin to compete with the big-boys of your industry.
This is understandable, since the big names tend to offer a solid reputation, a large team of professionals and an impressive set-up for client meetings. No-one can blame you for wondering what can a lone, works from home in their pyjamas and drinks endless cups of tea could do to compete.
Yet the truth is, while there are many things you can’t offer, it’s rarely those things that are most important to clients.
So what do clients want?
They want to be able to trust the work will be completed to the highest standard – and without a shadow of a doubt, that’s one thing you can do, can’t you?
Compete by offering a personal service:
What’s one of the key problems with large firms? Their clients rarely know who’s actually carrying out their work. They might regularly talk with the ‘big boss’, they might even have a dedicated ‘account manager’, but chances are the company employs throes of ‘little people’ who are the ones actually doing most of the leg-work.
Why is this a problem?
Because the more people involved in a project, the bigger the chance that something may go wrong.
What can you offer?
A firm reassurance that it is you and you alone that does all the work. This means you are in control, and if something goes wrong, you are in the position to fix it instantly.
What’s more, when a client calls with a question or problem, you have the knowledge and resources to answer. None of this ‘I’ll try to find out and call you back later‘ nonsense that frequently occurs in large firms.
Compete by offering value for money:
While the big firms will tell you that you have to pay big bucks to get the best, small-time freelancers know this isn’t true.
There’s nothing to say that just because someone is a one-man-band that they don’t have the skills, knowledge and experience to deliver results.
And what else can you deliver? The results of minimal overheads; e.g. a far lower cost than your biggest competitors could ever dream of charging.
Compete by showcasing your professionalism:
Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you work alone from home you can act less professional than your suited-and-booted competitors.
While clients value a personal touch, and the ability to talk to the same person about their project each time they call, they also value professionalism.
An unprofessional approach to working life is one of the areas that lets many freelancers down, and is one of the signals a potential client will be watching out for when they are deciding whether or not to hire you.
You might know that you spend your days sprawled across the sofa in jogging bottoms and a t-shirt, but you don’t want your clients to know this. Ensure your website, pitch, emails and phone manner all scream PROFESSIONAL!
Compete by specialising:
If you try to be ‘all things to all men‘ you’ve got a high chance of falling flat on your face. Instead, choose a niche within your niche that you’re going to become the best-of-the-best at.
Use LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs and industry forums to showcase your expertise and use this as your biggest USP. Your competitors might have twenty staff members working round the clock, but what they probably don’t have is hard and fast evidence of speciality knowledge and expertise.
Compete by marketing your USPs:
When you market yourself you need to emphasise the above. Tell potential clients that by choosing a freelancer (you) they’ll be getting the kind of service and attentiveness lost on companies as soon as they start employing staff members. Demonstrate your professionalism. Send examples of previous work showcasing your incredible expertise. Show them how you can offer true ‘value for money’.