I was wondering if anyone had any advice on what to do during slow periods to get some contracts. I have been freelancing for 3 years with a steady income of work. Lately I have just found it hard to find leads and finalize contracts.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
1) Contact old clients with changes you've made to your service or give them a special deal for 'client appreciation'. Offer them a gift (monetary or otherwise) for referrals.
2) Get back to basics. Start remembering the things you did to get your business started and start doing some of them again.
3) Revamp your website.
4) Look for work via Internet and/or local ads.
5) Join a local club and start networking.
I just want to add one more item to Shyflower's and other excellent advice on this thread.
Build a product that you can sell.
For example, if you know how to code templates for popular CMS frameworks, like WordPress, Zen Cart, Joomla, Magento, etc. Why not design a few and list them on your website and/or list them on the MarketPlace.
The same goes for coding plugins and even writing eBooks.
An added benefit is as you are researching and working on your product, you are adding to your skill set so when a billable gig comes up, you can do more.
digadesign, may I also suggest the potential of going beyond your clients to perhaps finding some "on the side" jobs which you can turn into a profitable source of income. It's pretty different to all the above advice but having your eggs in multiple baskets can pay off if you're the multi-tasking sort.
I would suggest - if you're not already doing this - using your time to conduct a methodical, systematic professional sales campaign.
It's all very well reading books, joining clubs and fiddling with your website but the best way to make some sales is undoubtedly to go and do some pro-active selling.
Identify the type of clients you'd like to work with, generate a list of contacts and offer them your services (phone, or send a letter then phone).
Statistics will take care of the rest. If you contact and offer your services to enough people you will get some work. After a while you will get a feel for how many people you need to approach in order to get one job. Thereafter you can estimate how much selling effort is required to generate the amount of work you want.
Speaking generally now, IMO the mistake the majority of web designers/developers seem to make is to find endless reasons not to get involved in the tried and tested methods of professional selling. This is primarily due to fear of rejection, but as no one will admit to being frightened of making a phone call (really, what's the worst that can happen?!) all kinds of other tired excuses are dragged out instead!
Fact is, millions of professional salespeople all over the world sell their products to millions of clients by picking up the phone, or typing a letter then following up by phone, and asking for the sale. Because it works!
You could also look at developing new services to offer clients. Sit down and work out what new technologies would work best for your clients and then experiment. Twitter API, Facebook Apps/Connect, Flickr, etc.
Perhaps refactor your current software offerings. Feature upgrades for CMS, accounting tools or whatever custom products you offer.
Thanks guys!! Great advice as usual
Great list!! Thanks for taking the time ... might give me the boost I need.
The only thing I wasn't sure was the local club. What do you mean?
Shyflowers's probably asleep right now, but she probably means local business networking groups. These are often made of of several individuals in your local area who meet regularly to chat about business, maybe having guest speakers and so on. They're a good way to connect to other business people in your area.
Actually, although business networking groups (like your C of C) are okay, in my opinion, you are better off joining something where business isn't the number 1 priority. In the US we have groups like the Jaycees. In Winona, they organize activities such as the "River Walk," which is the day we all go out and clean up the riverbanks. They also do things like pick up the Christmas trees after people take them down.
Consider taking an art class, joining the YMCA, or doing some kind of volunteer work. Activity like that both enriches your life and expands your circle of friends. Friends are a great source of inspiration as well as a source of possible future business and referrals.
^ good list Shyflower
I'd add that it's a good opportunity to take some time off!
Read books about marketing and growing business. There's so much literature out there (and audio and video). I'm always stirred up with new ideas after reading, listening, and watching new material.
Well in think you need to first find out what are the reasons for this slow period. You need to contact your old clients and try to find out the reasons for which they are showing less interest in your business.
thats sound advice, thanks for that!