6 Essential Steps to Win Clients in a Difficult Market

Dec 15, 2022


The life of a freelancer can be a difficult one. You have to establish yourself as quickly as possible to ensure you gain enough clients to make a living. Yet, for those in full-time employment can enjoy vacation days on behalf of their company, for a freelancer, a break will often equate to lost revenue.

Then there are also things outside of your control, like global catastrophes and economic crashes or recessions that force markets to shrink and retreat until it has all blown over. If you work as a freelancer or are self-employed in an industry that is prone to slowing during tough times, it can be a double hit.

But, just because things are difficult doesn’t mean freelancers should give up and seek alternative employment means, and there can be financial benefits to being a freelancer during a recession.

Read on to find out how freelancers can prosper in difficult markets with these essential steps for attracting new clients when times are tougher.

1. Don’t neglect freelance job sites

While some freelancers prefer to win their clients via alternate means, freelance gig sites are a great way to pick up extra business during tough times. Perhaps you have lost a client or two in the short term as they have cut back their third-party spending and you need some quick wins to help balance the books.

When your preferred client-winning methods are slowing down you can prop up your income with access to a host of potential jobs through sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Flexjobs.

Some sites allow potential clients to find you while others let you pitch your talents for specific tasks. However, it’s also important to understand that most freelance job sites will take a cut of your fee, so make sure to understand what that is and adjust your pricing accordingly.

2. Master social media

Social media is a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes and levels in today’s commercial landscape. And, whether you love or hate social media, your customers and clients are using it. Social media can be a fantastic tool for engaging with customers, building your brand, and bringing your business to the attention of more people.

The best way to start using social media if you have avoided it so far is to start building a network and connections with people and brands you wish to work with. LinkedIn and Twitter are great places to start, and the more you start putting yourself out there, the sooner you will get noticed by the right people.

Often, when companies are looking for freelancers to work with they will reach out via social media first, so it’s an excellent opportunity to get the gig before anyone else does. Ultimately, social media is free advertising both for you as a freelancer and for companies looking for third-party help, so

3. Network to yield better results

Traditional networking methods can still pay dividends for self-employed people and freelancers. For us to enjoy success as a freelancer, we need to work with people and there are several ways we can make connections. Social media once again becomes a useful tool through Facebook Groups or Meet-ups and events focused on your skills and industry.

There are also shared working spaces that are typically well-populated by fellow freelancers. You can find work opportunities, form partnerships, and start building your network to ensure you have many avenues for work – essential for when times get tough.

LinkedIn’s main purpose is for professionals to create networks so ensure you make use of this widely accepted platform to avoid missing out on jobs that you would be perfect for. The connections you make could turn into referrals in the future, validating your claims and experience and showcasing your history of working with established organizations.

4. Plan ahead and continue charging a fair rate

When it feels as though your work is drying up due to outside factors such as the economy, the temptation can be to drop your prices to try and entice more clients. But, dropping your price not only puts you under pressure, and makes you have to work faster for the same money, but it can send the wrong message to your clients.

Those clients who you charge your previous rate to may see you are offering your services for cheaper and request the same fee for themselves. This just means you will have to keep working longer and harder for the same pay. It’s important to charge a fair price for your skill and experience, making significant cuts isn’t going to help you in the long run.

At the end of the day, quality work is quality work and it’s worth it. If the threat of a recession looms there are ways to safeguard your salary, and if you have acquired a new client, planning your rates is always sensible. Many freelancers have a constant struggle with deciding what their rates should be, and it is difficult to place yourself in a vast and varied market. Ultimately, you must set a price that you can live by.

5. Sharpen your writing skills

While writing might not be your forte, it’s important to set yourself apart from the competition by presenting the best possible version of yourself to potential clients. You want to present yourself well when pitching to clients and in your portfolio, so it’s important to review the content you are putting out there.

Writing help tools like Grammarly are freely available and do a decent job of pointing out any glaring errors in your writing. However, they aren’t perfect and you may wish to hire a (freelance) writer or proofreader to polish up your final drafts.

6. Tailor each pitch to the client

Whether writing is your strong suit or not, each pitch you send to a potential client must be given a bespoke flavor. Templated pitches are useful for sending en-mass but a more personal approach is better, particularly as people can tell when they have received a one-size-fits-all communication.

Consider that companies are approached by freelancers quite regularly so they will want to see pitches that mean something to them. Treat your pitches like job applications, changing the content to match the task description, and mentioning the client or their company are a must. When times are hard you want to show that you go above and beyond to a client but if you can’t create a unique pitch for them then they may doubt your willingness to put the effort into their work.

It is also essential to maintain your portfolio, adding your latest pieces of work when there is something you think is worth shouting about. For example, working with an industry-leading client, or creating something memorable. Your portfolio should be fresh and where possible should mostly feature work you have completed in the past six to 12 months.


Annie Button

Annie is a freelance writer based in the UK, specializing in business development, branding, digital marketing and HR. An English Lit grad, Annie has written for various online and print publications.