11 Quick Tips for Generating Client Leads

Any successful freelancer knows that the real bread-and-butter projects don’t just fall into your lap, not initially anyway. Once you’re established and have a great website, with an impressive portfolio and high Google rankings, clients will flock to you, but until then, you’ll need to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty doing some good old-fashioned lead generation. What’s more is that if and when business slows down, you can use these tips to find new leads, establish new prospects and get the ball rolling on new projects.

What is lead generation?

Lead generation refers to the creation of prospective interest or inquiry into products or services of a business. As freelancers, there are a variety of reasons why you want to generate leads — you can use them for list building, e-newsletter list acquisition, and so on. The bottom line is that you’ll want to build interest in your business in such a way that your future leads will take the proverbial ‘next step’ and buy your services.

How to generate new leads:

Trade Association Membership Groups: These groups are easy to find doing a Google search. If you want more projects in the design space, doing a quick search of “design association australia” will bring up AGDA (the Australian Graphic Design Association).

The Yellow Pages or Manta: This is great for targeting local companies for leads. The good thing about listing in the Yellow Pages (even if it’s online) is that all the company’s contact information is readily available.

Cold Calling: Generate business by calling up your potential clients (also known as prospects) and asking them if they’re in need of your services. If you’re new to this, it might be best to develop a sort of script. You’ll want to introduce yourself, your business (and the services you offer), and ask questions that suds out what the company’s needs are and whether they can use a freelancer.

Design Contests: if you have choice between cold calling a business (see above) who may or may not need a design and submitting a bespoke design illustrating your skills to a potential client who you know needs a design via a design contest, it’s clear what is playing to your strengths and what is more targeted. Try DesignCrowd’s design contest site as a first port of call (they offer participation payments i.e. no spec contests).

Direct Mail: This includes everything from postcards, sales letters or brochures. This is an old-fashioned technique, especially in the age of the Internet. As with cold calls, you’ll want to use your direct mail pieces to introduce yourself, your services and entice the customer with a call to action, either by inserting a reply card, a business card, or by calling them to visit your website.

Advertising: Advertising your business is one way to generate new leads if you have the money to do so. Print ads can be quite expensive, so look towards blogs and websites in your industry (and the niche within your industry) for advertising opportunities.

Network: Network, network, network… and then network some more. Meet up with up fellow web programmers or copywriters or attend an event where your prospects might be. Bring plenty of business cards, prepare an elevator speech and make connections. At the very least, you’ll meet connections who can refer you to future prospects.

Websites: If you freelance, you need to have a website — period. Aside from displaying your top-notch portfolio and any client testimonials, you can use your website to list the services you offer, collect e-mail addresses and other information from people who visit your site. You can also set up a website specifically to entice a viewer to make an inquiry or express interest in purchasing your services.

Blog: You can also use your blog to generate leads, much in the same way that you should use your website to generate leads. An active and engaging blog will show prospects that you’re well-versed in the subject, and that you know what you’re talking about.

Social Media: Use social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to generate leads. Oftentimes, people will post on LinkedIn looking for referrals for a particular freelancer, hoping that someone they know knows someone who can help them out. Seize that opportunity and approach them about your services.

Giveaways and Promos: One way to capture the attention of social media users and generate interest in your services is to partner with another company and offer something for free or at a special discount using a promo code. Once you give someone a taste of what your business can offer them, they will be that much more willing to pay for it at a later date.

I hope you can find the tips useful. See you in the comments.

Lindsey Gregory is a freelance writer and blogger from the US who writes on any topic from design to freelancing!