I've been working as a freelance web-developer for the past 3 years and I would like to share how I get new clients by using outreach.
This was probably the trickiest thing for me to get my head around. I would think that "I'm a web-developer. I'll take any client that I can get". With this mentality it's just very hard to stand out today. Why should they hire you instead of someone else? You can talk about how good you are at programming and so on but a business owner won't care too much about how the system will technically work.
To find your ideal client you should be able to answer a few questions:
Pick an industry that you are passionate about and an industry where you have some track-record. What I did was to look back at my portfolio to see that I was doing a lot of XYZ projects for the ABC industry. So I picked that which meant that I had something I could show to my ideal clients.
This doesn't mean that you will not do business with anyone else but once you have an ideal client you will now know how to find them.
Okay, so you know who your ideal client is and now it's time to find them. Personally I've been using Google to find companies that fit my ideal client and then looking for the person on that company that fit my ideal client. Usually they have email and phone number on their site.
Another good thing is to use LinkedIn or any other place where you can sort through people and companies based on some parameters. The better you have defined your ideal client the easier this will be.
Find contact details for 100 of your ideal clients.
When you have your list of 100 ideal clients it's time to start reaching out to them.
NOTE! I do not send out any bulk emails or other bulk communication to anyone. I understand that this make it take longer time but at the same time this has a higher success rate.
I find something personal for every single one on my list. Maybe a project they've done or something else. I want to give them the feeling that "Hey, this guy has actually read up on me and is genuinely interested in me. I'm not just a person on a bulk list".
Once I've found this personal thing I try to connect with them on LinkedIn with something like "Hey. I'm also working in XYZ industry and I really liked the project you did for ABC. Did you do that using EXAMPLE?". Short and sweet but I get a very large success-rate of people accepting my connection request.
If they accept my connection request on LinkedIn I start to talk a little bit but try to setup a 15 minute call with them. Always better to talk because that builds bigger trust IMHO.
If they do not answer my LinkedIn request I send them an email, if they do not answer my email I call them, if they do not answer my call I text them. Then I start this over again after say 3 weeks. This whole process of connection, email, call is spread out over say 2 weeks.
I will continue until I know that they are not my ideal client (they've answered and said that) or if I can't get a hold of them I will stop after 2 of the above cycles (move on, there are other ones to call).
The goal of outreach is to set-up a call with them where you just get to know each other. Do not try to sell anything on this first call because it will fail 99/100. Listen to what they are doing, what projects they are working on right now and so on. Also talk a little bit about what you've been doing and where you've seen success.
This is where I saw the greatest improvement using the above system. There is some crazy stat like on average it takes 7-12 contact points before someone buys something from you. This is why I said not to try and sell your product on the first introductory-call.
Now you can start to just follow-up with them very easily. For example send a blog-post that you think they might find interesting. Something like this "Hey XYZ. Was thinking of you when I read this post. Think you might find it interesting. Take care". Nothing special but what this does it a very important concept which is called "Stay top of mind". If you follow-up say every 2 months or something they will continuously have you on top of their mind when a new project is to be made.
This got pretty long and I still could have written a lot more about every individual section up here.
Using this system might sound like it wouldn't scale for lack of better word and that's right. You won't have time to reach out to as many people as you would just sending out bulk email. This is a lot more targeted and it has given me way better results.
I now have around 10 clients that I know will send me work every year so now I'm in a position where I don't do much outreach anymore and instead try to keep these clients happy.
I would love to hear if someone else is using outreach like this to get new clients or only using Upwork or other platforms?