That’s exactly it. Just WHY should a client hire you?
I saw this question recently in a Facebook group and my answer got a few thanks and comments. I wrote this post to expand on that.
When you’re new, getting clients can be a struggle.
“I’m new to <insert skill or service here>, how do I get clients?”
“Where can I get clients?”
“How do I…?”
And on it goes. However many variations of this your brain can conjure up.
As a beginner, it feels like it’s a never-ending uphill struggle.
But here’s the thing…
Though it might seem so, and this is critical to remember…
It’s not – and never is – about you.
There’s an expression: What’s In It For Me (or WIIFM, for short).
This affects everything you do with regards to freelancing (or any type of selling or services).
What’s In It For Me?
We do this WIIFM with everything.
You, The Freelancer
You’re looking for a client. So, WIIFM?
Likely one or more of the following:
- a challenging role
- improving your skills
- expanding your network
- getting paid
- a whole host of other ‘things’.
(Some of the above may or may not be applicable, but you see what I’m getting at.)
Then there’s your [prospective] client. What are they looking for?
What’s their WIIFM? (Because it’s not, and never is, the same as yours.)
- someone who both knows what they’re doing and can do it
- peace-of-mind and assurance that they’ve made the right choice, i.e. someone they can rely on and, would like to work with
- to get on with their business while this task is being done.
In a nutshell, that’s it.
I could add to that, but those are the essentials that you need to answer as to why should a client hire you.
But How Do I Convince The Client To Select Me?
The answer to this question is simple:
Answer those 3 points, above.
That’s all you need to do.
Convince them that:
- you know what you’re doing and can do what they need doing (to completion)
- you’re reliable and a great person
- you’re a problem-solver and won’t hassle them unnecessarily*
There’s a good chance you’re now thinking along the lines of, “Sure, Russ, sounds easy but it doesn’t help me get selected. What I want to know is how to get selected.”
Trust me, I’m getting there.
The next thing you have to do is to
Change Your Perspective
Flip it around 180-degrees.
Rather than you looking at his job role and at what you need to do to apply for it and get selected, you look at it from the hirer’s point-of-view: what do they want to see from you to be able to answer those very same 3 questions, above.
That’s what they want to see.
(One small addition I’d like to add to this is the easier you can make their decision, the better all round it’ll be.)
Again, same question as before… how do you do this?
In this case, proof is rock-solid evidence that you can do exactly what you’re saying you can.
Provide solid proof that you’re the number 1 person for this job/position and you’ve cracked it.
You make your application so good that the client cannot choose anyone else.
Here are a couple of responses I’ve had:
“Russ, thank you so much for you video – super helpful, made me laugh also because I was struggling with all the things you mention – hence me wanting to get an expert to help!”
Sounds good, let’s try this. I’ve chosen you because I think you got the best experience, and I didn’t want to make any experiments.”
What’s The Best Kind of Proof
Again, put yourself in the client’s shoes. What do you think they would want to see as proof?
- Exam results
- Samples: documents, images, videos, audio, paintings
- Testimonials: word-of-mouth recommendation, written feedback, video, etc.
In fact, proof is anything that will help your application.
What’s equally important is not including ‘proof’ for the sake of it. Seriously, if it doesn’t help or boost your application then leave it out.
More importantly, when applying for a job, don’t ever weaken your application by including irrelevant material.
With that in mind, and you probably already know this (and to ensure we’re all on the correct page)…
Not All Proof is Created Equal
Some proof is definitely better than others. Of course it is.
If a trusted friend recommends someone or something to you, then the chances are you don’t need anyone or anything else. Who can go against word-of-mouth?
In terms of getting hired, that’s firsthand, unassailable validation that you can do what’s needed.
Video testimonials are also very good. For the same reasons as given above.
Anything else, with perhaps 1 exception (see below) can be faked: written testimonials, images, and so forth.
Other Types of Testimonials
The only type of written testimonial that I believe can’t be faked (and please correct me if I’m wrong) are written reviews on places like job sites, LinkedIn, etc.
That is unless you have the skills and ability to go in and to crack that site’s security, hack both the client and freelancer’s profile, etc. But even that feedback system can be abused at a lower level.
A classic example of this is Amazon’s ‘verified purchaser’ reviews: what are you more likely to believe, someone who’s a verified purchaser of a $2,500 home surround sound system or one of $0.99 Kindle book?
You can see how important testimonials are.
That’s also why I wanted to talk about these from the start.
My Own Screw-ups
Personally, I screwed up…
Yes, I’ll hold my hands up and and admit it.
I didn’t get the video testimonials that I probably could’ve from previous clients.
I do have written testimonials/feedback from most (via online agencies), but they could be better.
Given the work I do and the clients I engage with, I will admit that I can’t imagine many of them wanting to give video testimonials. In such cases, written’s the best I’m likely to get and will have to do.
One thing you can do, which I learned quite recently from a former client and friend, Steve Pinckney of Conceptia, is ask for a LinkedIn recommendation from them. (If you aren’t on LinkedIn, get on it.).
These are a solid kind of testimonial.
As long as the person who gives it isn’t your best mate or your mum (or both), that is, this type of proof is incredibly hard to challenge.
Getting Future Testimonials
When you finally do get clients, remember the above points and always get a testimonial.
In fact, and take this from me, at this beginning stage of your career, getting a testimonial from your client is almost as important as getting paid: your fee will get you to your next job (I hope). Your testimonial will help get you that next job! They’re that important.
To reiterate, word-of-mouth recommendations are the best. Video testimonials, 2nd. Sites like LinkedIn, Upwork, etc., 3rd. All the rest are better than nothing (most of the time, that is) and will do little more than boost your ego.
Note: don’t even think about trying to fake testimonials. Freelancing and getting hired is all about building trust and relationships and if you’re thinking of fake it to make it, then the chances are it’ll all come crashing down.
But Russ, I Don’t Have Any Proof, Now What?
That’s unfortunate. But, and here’s the thing… Get proof.
“But I don’t know how.”
When I hear this, I’ll bet you a £ to a penny you’re a [wannabe] writer of some sorts.
A good friend of mine is an artist. She paints.
Every. Single. Day.
I know an illustrator. He sketches, he draws.
Every. Single. Day.
In his spare time, while watching Netflix, etc.
If you’re going for video production or editing jobs, you’re not going to rock up having not produced or edited 1 single video, are you?
Same with building websites…
Freelancer: “Hey, I build websites. I can do that for you.”
Client: “Okay, show me some you’ve already done.”
Freelancer: “Oh, I don’t have any.”
See how that doesn’t cut it?
It’s their passion.
They create more of it – more proof – and perfect their art. Every day.
Tell me again how you’re a writer and have no proof?
“But, but, but… it’s the wrong kind of proof.”
Well, get the right kind.
What’s your passion?
What industry or niche do you want to work in? Work that out first.
Then find a product and either write a sales letter, an email (or 5), or a blog post, or an article, or, or, or…
If you want to work in the health niche, write about some health topics.
Write 1 blog post or article a day for a week.
Now you have proof.
Want to work in real estate, or IT, or telecoms, or food, or sports, or… get writing.
Now you have proof.
Sure, you don’t have testimonials. Not yet.
But now you have something to show any potential client.
What About Working for Free?
I wouldn’t. But that’s just me.
Some do. But you have to be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
I’ll cover this in another post (Working For Free).
How Do I Know When I’ve Got Enough Proof?
When you get the contract. That’s how.
Again, flip it 180 and put yourself in the client’s shoes:
- Can this freelancer do what I need?
- Are they someone I can and want to work with?
- Can I give them the task and let them get on with it?
If the answer to any of these is no, then address it. And keep addressing it.
I don’t doubt that you have work to do to get there. But at least you now know what you have to do.
For myself, Russ, freelancer extraordinaire, I ask myself these same questions with every job I apply for.
I’ve got enough proof of no. 2, in the above; I’m sorted, But if I’m going into new territory on something I’ve never done before, then I still have to address questions 1 and 3.
As an example, I got a new contract with Microsoft.
I wanted to make sure that I didn’t mess it up. So, I asked questions to understand the exact requirements. This sounds like it could be item 3, but they were sensible questions.
Clients understand that their instructions might not be clear or might be misunderstood, and they’re fine with that (Re: peace-of-mind I mentioned earlier). The point is you can’t hassle them.
In the end, this was the feedback:
More recently (this is a refresh of this article), I was asked to write a lead magnet report for a company in a, for me, new industry (AI).
I needed to ask tons of questions. I couldn’t deliver the level of quality required (by me or the client) without it. They’ll thank you for it because it helps to show you’re:
- a professional and can be trusted
- focused on the task at hand
- reinforcing that they’ve made the right decision
- likely going far beyond what others they’ve worked with are doing
- keen to provide peace-of-mind.
Having read this far, it’s time to circle back to the beginning. The original question was:
Why Should a Client Hire You?
You should now know the answer to that.
Proof is key.
With it you can answer those 3 basic questions.
Without it, you will always struggle.