The Ambitious Freelancer’s Guide to

 Client Acquisition 

The Most Important Element to Starting & Growing Your Freelance Career

There’s never been a company that succeeded without sales.

– Mark Cuban

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 Lesson 

🧠

Rethink everything you know about sales

People hate being sold to…
but we love to buy.

If you understand this dynamic, you can sell anything. As a freelancer, you will always have something to sell: your skills and style!

Your goal is to sell without your prospects ever thinking about it. How to do this? Start by mentally replacing the concept of “selling“ with the idea of “helping.” Focus on providing as much value as you can into the world. In turn, the world has a funny way of returning the favor.

No more going to networking events with your business card extended out in front of you. No more cold emailing asking if someone wants your services. No more direct selling! You’re now learning how to provide value, and how to capture value in return.

When to sell—and when to avoid it 🚫

Gary Vaynerchuk spends most of his time giving value, not selling. He does this to position himself, so when he does have an opportunity to “sell” something, it doesn’t come off salesy because he’s been giving—he’s been building rapport and authenticity.

His book about this method, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, compares sales to boxing: a pro boxer doesn’t climb into the ring and throw a right hook immediately. He starts by getting a feel for his opponent, and delivering small jabs that steadily reduce the foe’s resistance.

That same philosophy applies in business. The idea here is that, if you go into a sale looking to sell, you’ve already lost. “Jabbing” as a freelancer means helping; it means giving value.

Always aim to provide value first.

As Gary Vee explains, when your energy is focused on disproportionally providing value, you will win. So what are some ways you can do that?

  • Writing & sharing a blog post that helps your potential clients do something
  • Making an intro for two people who stand to benefit from the connection
  • Giving someone a ride to an event
  • Speaking at events for free (if you have something to say)

You might think these kinds of things deserve a price tag, and you could be right—but this is 2019, and people do business differently in 2019. It’s about trust and relationships, and the best way to build that is by providing massive value and asking nothing in return. Growing your trust first builds your clout far faster than going around trying to bag a quick client. Remember, this is just the foundation.

You need to jab a few times before you go in for the killer right hook—the ask you want to make: “Hire me to be your ______.” If you’ve been helpful, if you’ve built rapport and a relationship with someone, you’re far more likely to “land the right hook.”

In Gary Vee’s own words, the JJJRH method from your childhood:

My favorite analogy to illustrate the difference between jabs and right hooks are cartoons. When the Transformers cartoon was on Saturday mornings, you would tune in and watch for free. You’d watch the cartoons and not have to pay a dime. But when the movie or new action figure or toy came out, you went and paid for that. Cartoons were the jabs that pulled you in so you would then pay for the movie or toy.

So, when do you throw a right hook?

The best time to throw a right hook is when someone gives you permission to. Seth Godin coined the term “permission marketing” beautifully:

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.

You’ve been so helpful to them that they want to hire you when it’s time to hire a freelance writer, designer, etc. Of course, this doesn’t mean everyone you help will come flocking. More realistically, you’ll need to stay top-of-mind and be confident in making a strong ask that “lands” properly.

Let's say you have a book to sell, and your internal goal is to sell 50,000 copies. Let’s compare a couple versions of an email blast you could send to your list:

Hey everyone,

I just published a book called Climbing Mountains With Only One Hand. Please buy it so I can continue living in Zion and not have to work in retail anymore!

Rock the One-Handed Climber

Hi {{first-name}},

Thanks for your continued support over the years! I’m excited to announce that I just published a new book, Climbing Mountains With Only One Hand. It’s part personal success story, part rock climbing lessons.

If you’ve enjoyed my blog & newsletter content about rock climbing and other adventures, you will probably love this book, too. You can buy it on my website, with discount code {{coupon-code}} for being such a loyal supporter!

Please let me know if you do; I would love to hear how you liked it.

Cheers & safe travels 🖐️

Rock the One-Handed Climber

Remember: the reason you can make this ask is because you’ve been building your clout and goodwill for the last several months, and these people, in a way, feel like they owe you something. Some will click the link for that very reason. Playing the long game works in sales. Patience can be hard to keep up, but patience pays.

Example of a great right hook in action

Scott Kupor is a venture capitalist at a16z, one of the most sought-out VC firms in startup history. He spends a great majority of his professional time providing value through his role. Now, since he published a book recently, he’s actively throwing a right hook: asking for reviews on Amazon.

scott kupor secrets of sand hill road twitter screenshot

 Mission 

Write down 2-3 jabs you want to use

 Lesson 

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️The five questions every beginning freelancer must ask

(Coming soon! Get on the waitlist to know when this is published)

 Lesson 

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Where to find your ideal clients

(Coming soon! Get on the waitlist to know when this is published)

 Lesson 

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How to get your prospects’ attention

attention grabbing image of female model silhouetted on bright pink neon background

Start by being interested, not by trying to be interesting.

This idea comes worded this way by Ty Bennett, but has been true since the dawn of humanity.

Think of it as talking less, and listening more. Bennett explains it this way in his aptly named article Be Interested, Not Interesting:

Influence comes from making it about others. When we are genuinely interested in someone else, they will love us for it.

A superpower in life is being curious—asking lots of thoughtful questions. We should always be interested in others, and not just because it leaves positive impressions on the people we talk to.

The reason this works is that people love talking about themselves. When you’re eager to learn and listen to others share their life story or elevator pitch, they’ll leave the conversation feeling like you were very interesting. Something inside them may feel like they owe you.

Learn to have great conversations

Listen to Celeste Headlee share 10 rules for having better conversations. The meat & potatoes starts at  4:00 —and pay special attention to what she says around  5:27  regarding true listening.

I’ll underscore what I believe to be the most important takeaway. Celeste says it herself—it all boils down to the same basic concept: being interested in people.

True listening requires a setting aside of oneself.

So let’s talk less about ourselves, our own companies or products or services. Instead, let’s ask questions, be curious, and make friends, not connections.

 Lesson 

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️The ancient art of following up… and following up…

(Coming soon! Get on the waitlist to know when this is published)

 Lesson 

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️The final stretch: how to negotiate & close deals!

(Coming soon! Get on the waitlist to know when this is published)

Request your free syllabus from GigLoft,
and start getting freelance clients today!