In Lesson 3, I talked about the “soup can” principle and how you should know your own “ingredients”: the unique skills that you can bring to a job. Today’s lesson expands on that principle in terms of approaching clients and writing applications to work with them, with the view of showcasing how the “ingredients” that make up your type of freelancer could be beneficial for the project or task they seek to complete. It is important to think in three stages during this application process.
Stage 1. The first is to consider who your client is in great detail and what they will be expecting from the person they seek to employ. You’ll find plenty of clues about this in any specification that they’ve given in the job listing. For example, they may be seeking technical knowledge from a particular kind of product reviewer, previous experience in a creative writer, or a specific subject qualification for a prospective teacher.
Stage 2. The second stage involves studying your profile and finding the skills that match with the client’s needs. Make a note of all the matches that you can, and when writing your cover letter, be sure to mention those in a clear and concise way that will assure the client that you are the right person for the job.
Stage 3. One of the most important elements in freelance work that makes it different from standard jobs is the personal, one-to-one collaboration between the client and yourself. In the third stage of considerations, it is essential to write with a tone that suggests partnership and mutual benefit throughout the project. Be enthusiastic about working with the client, and show that you are inquisitive and attentive to their needs.
Things to Remember
This is not a time for modesty. While it may not be advisable to write an application claiming to be the best thing since sliced bread, you do need to show a balanced level of confidence and assert to any prospective client that you will be able to serve their needs well. Even in my earliest freelancing jobs, I did not allow any excuses to be made for lack of experience, but rather I used what little experience I had to demonstrate the many things I’d learned and worked hard on.
Invite clients to explore your profile and portfolio by using signposting, which means to direct them to specific examples and profile features that you think may be relevant to them. For example, you may wish to point out a specific part of your education history that is relevant, which they can find in your profile, or a piece of work you have delivered that is in a similar style or requirement to what they’re asking from you now.
Be prepared to answer all the questions in the client’s job postings, and follow the requirements of their application process. For example, if they ask you to submit specific extracts that are already in your portfolio, it is not good practice to simply direct them there. Instead, facilitate their accessibility by uploading those documents individually and sending them in the required format. A client may also ask you to present something totally new, so if they discover that it is something copied and pasted from your existing portfolio, that will not deliver a good impression and could cost you the job. The keyword here is facilitate: Give the client what they ask for in order to show that you can read and follow instructions correctly.
Now that you have clients noticing you, the negotiation stage of securing those first few crucial jobs will begin. In tomorrow’s lesson, we’ll explore common pitfalls that can cause problems during initial talks with a client. You’ll also learn to ensure a smooth job ahead by opening up the conversation on a good note.
Until then, keep practicing those application basics.
Another element that clients may ask you to submit is a cover letter, which is a skill entirely in itself. You can get great advice on creating cover letters, even for those with little or no experience in the chosen field, from Prospects.
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