How I use outreach to get new clients

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.

🤔 Think about who is your ideal client

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:

  1. What industry is this person in?
  2. How big of a company does this person work on? (revenue and employees)
  3. Location (will it only be your local area, your country or the whole world?)
  4. Job Title

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.

👀 Find you ideal clients

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.

👨‍💻 Start the outreach pipeline

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.

💬 Follow-up

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.

🧠 Summary

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?

  1. 1

    Awesome job. This is pretty close to what I teach in my lead generation training. You've done a good job summarizing.

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot for your kind words Robert. Do you have a training for generate leads for freelancers or is this to generate leads in general? Also do you know good ways to automate a few of the things that I do? I still want it to be pretty manual so that I can my personalized enough to get responses but everything else that could be automated would be nice.


      1. 1

        100% the lead gen training I have is for freelancers and agencies who sell digital services (design, development, marketing, writing, etc.) There are tons of ways I've automated through the years. One of the biggest is using a RSS reader for tracking thousands of sites. And secondly creating a system for finding leads, replying to them, and sending proposals, that you can hire a VA to run for fairly cheap (I typically pay $30). You can get an overview of it here: https://folyo.me/confirm/free-course/

        1. 1

          Thanks a lot Robert. I'll have a look at your link. It's very interesting with generating leads because I've had a lot of success using zero automations because I find that it has become more personal. However of course I would want to automate it as much as possible without seeing a drop-off in success-rate.

  2. 1

    we have a lot of freelancers using https://loopcv.pro to automate their reachout

    1. 1

      Hey @avg. Just wrote to you on another post as well. This wouldn't be anything that I would want to use as a freelancer. For every client that I reach out to I make a custom pitch with something very personal.

      This is how I've got a lot of success with freelance and lots of people answering me. By just sending automated emails my clients fast easily becomes just a name in a database and most of them notices that.

      However this could be helpful for a person searching for a full-time job.

  3. 1

    Cool post Marcus!

    Although it seems like very basic stuff, it's fascinating how small number of people do this.


    1. 1

      Thanks for your comment. I see that you also are working as a freelancer. How are you getting clients yourself? 😊

      1. 1

        Mostly Reddit and cold email.

        1. 1

          Awesome. I’m doing lots of cold email as well. Do you have a system in place for your cold emails like a CRM and so on?

          1. 2

            Not really.

            When I'm looking for a new project I just email 5-6 people and usually close at least one.

            But I do a lot of research on my leads.

            Things like:

            • Do they use tech stack I've used previously?
            • Do they work in a same or similliar niche as my previous projects?
            • Are they hiring internationally?
            • Are they looking to expand the team?

            One email plus a follow up in a couple of days usually gets me a 15-30 minute meeting with them to discuss potential collaboration.

            But I do keep track of everyone I email on Bonsai.

            1. 1

              Cool! Bonsai looks really great. Do you mind reaching out to me on twitter (https://twitter.com/cousgullberg)? Would love to have a quick talk with you. Trying to be a better freelancer and also looking at building some tools for freelancers maybe.

              1. 1

                Trying to learn and jumpstart here as well, clueless, and would really appreciate if I could dm with you guys?
                Will return the favour anyway I can.
                @AthosBlade ?

                1. 2

                  Of course. Just DM me in Twitter. The handle is in my profile. Would love the chat @nashbhusal

                  1. 1

                    You'll have to change the setting for dms on twitter, or you could initiate :)
                    Settings page: https://twitter.com/settings/direct_messages

                  1. 1

                    Great. I dm'd you. Feel free to reply when you can.

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