Getting clients is easily one of the most stressful parts of running a business. So much so that most business owners are constantly terrified.
Terrified that the next client won't show up. Terrified of asking too much when they do. Terrified of scaring new business away.
I know. I've been there.
When I first started freelancing, I was afraid of asking too many questions up front, in case that shiny new client decided that it was too much work to work with me.
I know I'm not alone. Most freelancers use super short, generic contact forms or even just a link that opens up a blank email. We try to ask as little as possible of our clients in the beginning so they're not intimidated or scared off.
But you know what?
I'm not afraid this will scare clients away, at least not the right ones.
That sets up false expectations for both of us. And it makes it harder for me to recognize if a particular client and I will be a good match. It's unfair to both of us to pretend I can read minds and deliver the perfect solution without any effort from my clients. Especially when what's really required is a committed two-sided partnership.
Asking For What You Need
I know what I need to do my job well. It's getting to know my clients—their brands, vision and goals—really well. This information allows me to deliver amazing, strategically stunning results. So I'm not shy about asking for what I need anymore.
Now I do things differently, using what could be considered a pretty substantial questionnaire right up front. I'm not afraid this will scare clients away, at least not the right ones.
Sure this means more effort for them up front, but it also tells me what I need to know—about their business and whether or not we'll be the right fit. Were they thorough and invested and excited? Or were they rushed and brief and robotic? How that questionnaire comes through can be a huge red flag or green light for me.
The Price for Entry
Think about it. If a client can't fill out this small questionnaire, what are they going to do when I send my comprehensive questionnaire down the line that's several pages long? What about when I ask them to deliver feedback on a regular, scheduled basis?
Yes, I get fewer inquiries now (especially since I added a transparent starting price). But I also receive more of the right ones. And I don't have to waste time sorting through semi-serious inquiries and feeling bad saying no to the wrong clients.
As a one woman show, I only have so much time, and my contact form is the ticket price for entry. It's the compatibility test for our brand partnership.
Now when a shiny new inquiry pops into my inbox, I know that person was willing to invest time up front to give me what I need. Hence, I know we're that much more likely to be the right fit.
Sure, it's not quite so easy to get in touch with me now. But I know that for my brand partners, it's worth it.
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