This was written with calligraphers in mind, but could easily apply to a variety of creative industries, as the same principles will apply! Enjoy!
One of the most common questions I get asked when I post about extra-cool projects or working for bigger brands is simple: How?! There is a long answer (lots of hard work over several years and crying into many glasses of wine, for starters) and then, there are a couple of shorter ones. Below, I’ve broken down the “long story short” of it all - the main things you need to be conscious of in order to get the attention of the people you really want to work for. After all, not all freelance gigs are created equal!
Okay so you’re probably thinking “Um…what?” Let me explain - if you don’t have clients coming to you just yet, you pretty much have to pretend that you do. In order to attract your dream clients, you need to show them what you have to offer. To be successful working freelance, you simply have to be a person of action. Waiting around to be handed your dream projects is just not going to happen, babe! So, one of the best things you can do to inspire others to hire you, is to hire yourself first. Give yourself an assignment, or a “job” that you would love to do, and then just do it! For example - if you want to design wedding invitations, come up with a fictional couple (or use one of your favourites - I usually do Jay Gatsby & Daisy Buchanan) & an aesthetic for their fictional wedding (basically dream up their wedding scenario - a winter wedding in a castle, an elopement in Europe - literally anything you want!). Then, design, execute & document a gorgeous invitation suite that will stop people in their tracks (or rather, stop them mid-scroll). Photograph parts of your process as well as the final product, then share it on social media and on your website. Most people don’t know that they want something until they see it, and then they go from not knowing it existed to feeling like they need it.
Be Easy To Find
Okay so there is a lot to this part - but I’ll try to keep it simple. Once you’ve put some dream-client worthy work out there and your name has begun to circulate, potential clients will start to seek you out. But there will still be the other potential clients out there who haven’t heard of you just yet, but are looking for someone who does the kind of work you want to do. So, you need to be coming up in the searches they’re conducting! Most people don’t go past the first page of Google when they’re looking for something. You want to get your website SEO (Search Engine Optimization) on point, so that you climb the ranks of Google and show up at the top! This is done by making sure your website & copywriting are rich in keywords (the words that your prospective clients are using to search for you) and relevant content. You could either hire a professional to get your SEO in shape, or you can do it yourself - I would tell you how here, but this would go from a blog post to a novel pretty quickly. There are many free resources online where you can find out “how to SEO”! (Also - I may or may not be re-launching my calligraphy business class to include a section on this, so if you want me to keep you posted on that, you’ll have the chance at the end of this post!)
Have A Stand-Out Style
Going back to the whole “Hire Yourself” concept - when creating your example work (or portfolio), you should have the following question in the back of your mind: “Why would the client hire me for this, and not someone else?” Which sounds a tiny bit harsh as an inner dialogue, but it’s not meant to make you think negative things about yourself! It’s meant to make you pose the question what sets my work apart? Highly successful freelancers are not successful because they do what everyone else is doing - they are successful because they do what no one else is doing yet. They have their own voice, their own style, and they offer something unique and exclusive. Keep that question in mind when you’re creating, and you’ll be beating people away with a stick in no time.
A little bit counterintuitive, yeah? But believe it or not, knowing when to say “No” is one of the most powerful things you can do to land your dream clients. When you turn down projects that you’re not excited about, or that don’t align with your style, you’re left with more time and energy to pursue the creative projects that you really want. That, and you don’t have something sub-par that you didn’t particularly care for associated with your name forever on the internet (ahem, I’m speaking from experience). Another thing successful freelancers do: They offer only the products/services that they are amazing at - not a hundred different things they are just pretty good at. Of course, it can be hard to say No to things in the early stages of your career when you’re not exactly raking in the cash - but as you stabilize your workflow, being selective with your clients is imperative if you want to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field!
Be An Ally
This is usually the first thing I talk about because it is so, so important - Community over Competition. As calligraphy increases in popularity, I can almost guarantee that you won’t be the only calligrapher in your area. There will be other calligraphers & lettering artists who will be considered for the jobs you might want. Instead of feeling competitive or jealous or lowering your prices to make sure you get the job - be on the same team as them, celebrate their successes, and get on the same page when it comes to pricing. I honestly can’t tell you how many times having a trusted network of peers has benefitted me, and them. By having a friendly relationship with your “competitors” you will open up doors to yourself that you maybe wouldn’t have had access to if you were to go it alone. They might get an inquiry for a project that they are not excited about, but you would be, and they’ll pass it along to you - and vice versa. As the saying goes:
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Bonus Tip: Just Throw It Out Into The Universe
One of the beautifully creepy things about social media is that you never know who is watching. There is no harm in just being completely transparent and telling the world exactly what kind of project and client you want. Create a post on Instagram showcasing what exactly you want to do and who exactly you want to do it for! And not just that - be bold, and tag that dream client in the post! You could very well catch their attention enough to end up working with them, or the attention of a similar client. You just never know unless you try. What’s the worst that could happen? - You don’t book that client. But by not trying, you also don’t book that client. So you might as well try, right? I’ll say it again - you have to be a person of action. Ask the universe outright for what you want, and who knows - it just might happen.
Thank you for reading, babes! I hope you found this blog post to be helpful - If you did, it would mean the world to me if you could share it on Pinterest!
(Like, I would send you a box of chicken nuggets as a thank you, if I could)
To share on Pinterest, just hover over the photo below and click on the little Save button!
Who are the Dream Clients that I’ve worked for, you ask?
To name a few: Dior, Chanel, Aston Martin, Glenfiddich, L’Oréal, David’s Tea, Pandora, Urban Outfitters, Lululemon, and more!
PS. My turn to put something out into the Universe - would love to add a wine or champagne brand to that list! (I’m looking at you, Veuve & Moet ;) #goals)