You need a portfolio
So the first thing that you’re going to need is a portfolio. Sort of the obvious thing that you probably know but just to sort of reiterate you need to have a portfolio. I mean with my experience it’s 90% of the time, it’s the first thing that someone’s going to ask you for it because they want to see what kind of work you’re capable of. And a good portfolio can do 90-95% of the selling for you, so you want to build a good portfolio. you want to make sure it’s relevant, so what I mean by relevant is whatever services you’re offering, you want to make sure it’s highly relevant to those things you happen to be building. So if you’re building android apps you should have a portfolio of Android apps. You also want to make sure it’s visually appealing. But people judge books by their covers no matter how much we aren’t supposed to do and so the more visually appealing you can make it, the better. And also you want to make sure it’s your best foot forward. So a portfolio is not about volume. Most clients are not going to look through your entire portfolio, they will pick little things here and there, and things that catch their eye, so you must look at those. So you must make sure that one thing that they might click on and look at in detail is your best work. So you don’t want to just put a hundred things in your portfolio. Some of them can be good but some bad. It would be way better to have 5 items in your portfolio and all of them be really really good. So again make sure it’s your best foot forward.
So now my pro tip here. If you don’t have a client history, this is the biggest thing that people ask me about or sort of object when it comes to portfolios, is not having anything to put in there. If you don’t have a client history just build sample sites, example sites or example applications. Whatever you’re doing, build things purely to put in your portfolio because having those things there is better than nothing. Do not think that it is okay to go out with no portfolio. Build things for nobody if you have to, in order to put something in your portfolio, you need to have something there. It is the number one thing that clients are going to look at and ask for when it comes to web design and web development work. So again that’s one of my pro tips, make sure and have that stuff in there and do sample stuff for nobody if you have to.
You need referrals
So referrals from other people are, that they’re sort of the easiest sale that you’re going to make because the potential client comes already sold to you. So it’s really simple, I mean the most of the roles that I ever got, I really never did any selling. They already came to me wanting to hire me because the person who referred them to me did all the selling for me. So there it’s really simple. But the big question is well how do you get referrals if you have no current clients. And there’s a number of things that you can do, but one of the things that I think that is really simple that you can do is to do strategic free work, and what I mean by that is don’t just do free work for anybody, right? If you have a brother or a sister or a family member who want you to free work for them and you want to do that to put it in your portfolio by all means, but if they don’t know anybody that is going to want to build a site or an application like you want to build, they’re not someone who is, you know, it may be in the business world or in the industry that you want to target or whatever. Don’t expect to go into that they’re going to be able to give you a quality referral. They don’t know people like that, so they’re not going to be able to do it. So that’s what I mean by doing strategic free work. If you can find somebody that’s in the industry that you can contact or that you know or whatever and you can do free work for them and then they know all these other people who might want similar things done. Then that’s the kind of free work that’s worth doing because that person actually has a network of people that are potential clients for you that they could refer to you. So again, you can do strategic free work or it may just simply come down to, you need to grind out that first client out. But the larger point that I want to make here is that whatever you do to get that first client focus heavily from that point forward on getting referrals. So doing really good work so people want to refer you. You know, actually asking people for referrals or if they know anybody else that might be interested in the kind of services you do. If you do a good job, then a lot of people are going be okay with doing those referrals or referring others to you. So don’t be afraid to ask. Do the job so they want to and really focus heavily on that at the beginning because that’s how you can get a lot of the work.
Now my pro tip here is, prime the client to give you referrals up front by sort of telling them your story especially if you are working with other business people and these are their established business people, sort of take the role of you, know a lot of established business people, they want to help young entrepreneurs, they want to help people just getting started out and so they will sort of start to take on this mentor adviser type role and it can be easy to get annoyed by that and sort of push back against that, especially for people in web development because we all know we’re really really smart and we all already know everything, but what I would advise you actually take the mentorship even if you already know this stuff, even if you don’t care what they had to say to get them in that mode of trying to help you out. And then you know, it’s telling them that one of the best things that they can do to help you out is to give you a referral. So if you can get people kind of going down that path already, it makes it easier. So sort of tell them I’m just starting out, I’m trying to build up my portfolio, I’m trying to build a network and get referrals and so forth that’ll kind of prime the pump of them later on down the line either them offering to refer others to you or when you ask them, be much more open to it. So again it’s all sort of rests on you. Doing good work but that’s one way that you can sort of prime that pump.
Use freelancing sites
Right the next thing then is freelancing sites. so you know there’s freelancing sites out there like Upwork or freelancer or Fiverr, all these other ones out there, that a lot of these get thousands of new projects post of their site each day, if hundreds if not thousands, there’s a ton. So there’s lots of work there and they can be a really good place for you to grind out those first few jobs and build your portfolio. No, you’re not going to make as much money as you probably want to make, you’re not going to make as much money as you would make if you’re getting clients through referrals or off your own network or off your own website or whatever, right? These sites are not about that these sites, in my opinion, are about to sort of grinding out those first few clients getting referrals are getting portfolio build and you know there’s some of them that you can sustainably get work from, but you should always be looking to sort of build something outside of those.
Now my put up here is that the key with these things is to digging into how they work and understanding that these platforms have sort of a certain code to how they work and you really want to try and crack that code because if you can crack that code and understand the technology behind them and get them sort of tilted in your favor, then they can start sending you more work than you know what to do with. And just a little bit of an aside here, this is sort of what happened to me with up work. I got to the point where I was getting 20 to 30 new job invites a month in a niche where there it wasn’t saturated, so I was one of the few people actually in operating consistently in this niche. I was getting 20 to 30 new job invites month and I can only accept maybe 1 to 2 because these were for larger projects. So I have much more work than I could ever handle and it all happened once I figured out how a work worked and I tweaked my approach. Nothing sort of just got crazy for me from there. So again, these sites when you figure them out, and you can crack that code, they can really send you a ton of work.
Local business groups
Right the next thing then is one I don’t necessarily see people talk about as much especially in our industry, but it’s local business groups. So this actually I came across this purely by chance. My older brother got into insurance and in the insurance industry these meet up groups are huge. Is basically sort of a requirement for new shirts/ new insurance agents and so he got into all these different business groups and sort wanted me to go along with them. So I joined up to a few of these and what I learned very quickly was that when you are someone who is familiar with technology and you’re in a business group of realtor’s and insurance agents and people who generally tend not to be very good with technology you become a hot commodity very quickly. And almost from day one, I had people sort of approaching me about helping them with websites or talking about with me about their websites, website ideas and getting to the point of wanting to hire me, to build websites for them. So if you’re someone who’s good with technology and you get in one of these business groups or multiple of these, as it can turn very quickly.
Now my pro tip here is, you know you want to find a smaller group that only allows for one person per industry, a lot of groups do this, they’ll only allow one insurance agent, they’ll only allow one realtor, one web developer etc. If you can get in one of those groups, a group of a small of 20 to 30 people, which is about the size of one of the ones that I was in where I got the most offers. A group that small can be more than enough to jumpstart your career because a lot of those people can be high percentage 50, 75, 80% of those people can want to have you do something for them what web development wise. So it can be a really quick and easy way to start getting work and then build referral from that and because those groups are business meet up groups are sort of prime for referrals already. Like you can start to get a ton referrals from that kind of thing and build up your portfolio and so forth. So again, business meet-up groups; they can be a really good way to get going and getting work.
I’m just going to keep this one really brief and say go back and read this blog again if you want a first class lesson in the what, how and why of using content to sell your products and services. So I’ll leave that one at that. Alright, so that’ll do it for this time, see you in the next piece of discussion. Thank you.