How lancerX’s Free Course Generated $1,300 for Me in a Week!
"lancerX's free 5-day email course provides lots of value, especially if you are new and keen to try out freelancing."
This guest post is contributed by freelance SEO specialist Muhammad Firdaus Syazwani.
As a new freelancer, I found that looking for new clients is one of the most difficult things to do. It’s worse when you know that this is an ongoing process, no matter which stage you are at.
Now, I’m not entirely new. I’ve been freelancing for slightly more than a year now, but due to school and other work commitments, my progress as a freelancer has been unbelievably slow. In the first year, I’ve had only 7 clients.
It was hard to generate leads, manage my current clients, work commitments, and manage school simultaneously. Therefore, I was looking for ways to generate leads constantly to focus on closing more deals. Making freelancing sustainable was essential for me to stop working part-time.
Fortunately, I was already in lancerX’s Facebook group. I don’t participate much, but I am always lurking whenever Siew Ann, owner of lancerX, shares her tips (it’s awesome, you should check it out).
The group is also filled with other freelancers who are open to sharing knowledge and their past experiences. This makes it an awesome resource for a newbie like me to learn and develop my skillsets as a freelancer.
Knowing that Siew Ann shares some great insights into the freelancing industry, I decided to read her blog posts just out of curiosity. That’s where I found her free 5-day email course on getting clients – just what I needed!
The Free 5-Day Email Course
This course covers the necessary steps that you should take to get new clients, from preparing your portfolio to different ways of finding clients. It’s also broken down into different segments daily, and there are actionable tasks at the end of every email that Siew Ann recommends you take.
Also, unrelated to the course content, I love how it’s scheduled to send me emails only on weekdays at 8 am. It’s the perfect timing as I get to read them while transiting to work!
Day #1: Preparing Your Portfolio
On the first day of the series, Siew Ann talks about getting your portfolio ready. Your portfolio is the stepping stone to your freelance career and gives you the chance to draw out potential clients’ interest.
Trust me on this, many a time, your leads will ask you for your portfolio first even before you can pitch them your services. This makes a portfolio the most important item when you’re freelancing.
The more experience you have, the higher your chances of closing. It helps if your past work is in the same industry as the lead you’re approaching as well.
If you don’t already have past work to add to your portfolio, I’d recommend taking on your own personal side projects. Even though personal side projects don’t get you paid, it’s still something to showcase to potential clients. You can also charge a lower rate to get your foot in the door.
What I’m about to say next is pretty controversial in the freelance industry, but if somehow your skills can’t be showcased through personal projects, work for free. Working for free gives you hands-on experience in your craft that you wouldn’t be able to have to begin with. This also prevents unhappiness from your clients who may not like your work, especially if you have no previous experience.
On top of that, working for free allows for mistakes (of course, you should always give your best) that getting paid for wouldn’t. The good thing about doing free work is that you can also ask for a testimonial at the end of it, where your clients will usually give you a good one.
Thankfully, I already have a portfolio where I showcase my past case studies. However, it didn’t occur to me that I should have compiled all my articles into a list. I do search engine optimisation (SEO), and a huge part of SEO involves writing content. Not compiling the content I’ve written was a silly mistake on my part, and thankfully this course brought it up!
After getting your portfolio ready, we go into day 2, where we go into the first step of finding clients – job boards.
Day #2: Looking for jobs (job boards)
On the second day, Siew Ann shared a few popular websites with job boards for freelancers. Here’s a few that was mentioned:
The email also mentioned other niche-specific websites, Facebook groups, and WhatsApp and Telegram groups. I’m active on Upwork and a few Telegram groups to look for jobs. However, not much success apart from 5-6 leads, many of which did not match either parties’ needs. I believe it’s due to the number of applications they receive, and many of these businesses are comparing based on price instead of value you can bring them.
However, what stood out in this email was the things to note when applying for these jobs! It saves you time and credits (some platforms go on a per-credit basis), and I kind of wished I knew about it sooner!
Day #3: Looking for jobs (network outreach)
It’s time to reach out to your social network! Siew Ann recommends you make a list of contacts that might need your services, and then reach out to them. This is good, and it’s how I got started freelancing.
Siew Ann recommends that you be picky about the people you’re reaching out to. My tip is to do some research on them through Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also Google their names, where you’ll find useful information. You want to make sure that they have a business that can engage your services.
You don’t want to mass spam your friends; nobody likes that. So be really picky here.
This email also teaches you to reach out to your past clients. Past clients are one of the best sources to go to because they have experience working with you, and there’s a prior relationship built. For me, I didn’t reach out to my previous clients because of the current economy, but I made a conscious effort to maintain the relationships so that I can reach out to them in the future.
Day #4: Looking for jobs (cold email)
The fourth day recommends you to cold-email companies and agencies that will benefit from your services. Siew Ann teaches you what you should include in those emails, what you need to take note of, and what you should do after.
I was never a big fan of cold outreach. Be it cold calling or cold emailing, I felt that it was an intrusive way to get clients. I am an SEO, after all, which is an inbound marketing method. Or maybe I’m just picky! 😂
But there’s one thing I can’t deny is that cold outreach works. When working as an in-house marketer, I needed to generate leads for the company I was working for. Part of my remuneration package was to get paid for every qualified lead I generated.
I’d be a fool not to use all the marketing techniques I knew!
And part of my strategy was to cold-email. During my time as an in-house marketer, cold outreach generated loads of leads while waiting for inbound marketing efforts to sprout results. However, I didn’t want to use cold outreach for my own brand.
Thankfully, I went through a freelancing course organised by my school and the folks at CreativesAtWork. One of the methods they taught was to use LinkedIn as your portfolio. Together with Siew Ann’s course, I adapted both methods into my strategy.
Jayce and Yen-Lyng from CreativesAtWork recommended that I should use LinkedIn because of its benefits. Your LinkedIn profile adds credibility for yourself, and there are higher open rates on LinkedIn than in emails. This means that you have higher chances of getting replies from potential clients!
Like what Siew Ann recommended, I first needed to identify the companies I wanted to work with. This is where knowing your target audience is important. Knowing your target audience increases your chances of getting a client. It also saves you time from doing mass outreach that will yield less conversions.
Although you can use bots to automate LinkedIn outreach, you shouldn’t because we all can tell generalised messages from far away. Really, take your time here. It’s the most crucial step.
Now, this is where I add my twist to both methods. This method isn’t new, but it has proven successful for me. We’ve all had the experience of strangers connecting with you and immediately trying to sell you something once you’ve accepted their invite.
Instead of trying to sell immediately, send your prospects a connection request with a personalised note. This increases your chances of them accepting your request and opens up conversations.
Then, make micro-engages with their posts by reacting and commenting on them over the next few weeks. Keep things light. This brings positive attention to yourself. When they’ve warmed up to you, shoot your shot by telling them that you’re offering a service, and then ask them if they would like to work on a trial project together.
If they’re keen, pitch your services! This is how I got an offer for a writing gig worth $1,300 within a week of finishing Siew Ann’s course. It’s not too bad for someone starting!
Day #5: Accepting job offers
The last day of the course tells you what you should do after accepting job offers. Siew Ann shares that you should give in your best for all the clients you obtain since it takes a lot of work to acquire one.
She also mentions that you should look for ways to extend the project value by looking into sustainable ways to engage clients. As my work with this client is still ongoing, I am waiting to try what Siew Ann recommended in hopes of extending the project value.
Overall, lancerX’s free 5-day email course provides lots of value, especially if you are new and keen to try out freelancing. Even after a year of freelancing, I found value in her course as there are some aspects to it that I’d never thought of. There are also parts involved that I adapted for my own too!
Personally, I find that blogging about stuff in your industry is a good way to build authority and trust with potential clients. As a freelance SEO specialist, I’m competing with huge agencies for sales, and the challenge is to sell the idea that businesses are better off engaging me than SEO agencies. I also found that by creating my own SEO Telegram Channel, I get more leads and referrals interested in my services.
Whatever it is, you should look into diversifying your sources of leads. Look into different inbound and outbound marketing methods so that you will have a continuous stream of leads flowing in.
Fur is a self-taught SEO specialist in Singapore. An active and avid learner, he has spent countless sleepless nights self-learning and adapting his SEO techniques from various authoritative sources. He shares his knowledge at firdaussyazwani.com to provide SEOs and those who are keen an objective view of the different SEO techniques available online.