Gaining Social Proof by Undertaking Small to Big Projects
So, you finally realise the drastic positive changes freelancing can provide. In fact, you already found your niche, have your home office all set-up, and your mind and body in-sync ready to take projects from around the world, now what? You need to find clients.
But there’s just one problem – you have to convince them to hire you. Though you might have decent credentials to back your skills up, if they have never heard of you, and there are so many other freelancers in your niche already, they are more likely to take the safe route and hire the same freelancer they worked with before.
But don’t lose your hope yet. There’s one surefire technique to attract clients in the freelance world – and that is through gaining social proof.
What is Social Proof?
You might have heard of this concept already, but do you really know how it works? To understand this concept more easily, let’s use an analogy.
Imagine you are about to cross a busy road. We all know that we’re supposed to wait until the light turns green, and that’s what we do in most cases. There’s no way we’d risk our personal safety and get hit by a truck, or run the risk of looking imprudent if we step out just as a car comes speeding around the corner even if the road is clear.
However, there’s one exception to this rule, and it demonstrates how you can position yourself ahead of other freelancers: We’ll do it if we see someone else do it first. While it would not be safe to cross the road until the light turns green if those five people in front of you do, then it must be a good idea, right? And if the whole group of you get hit by a speeding car, at least it’s not just you looking stupid: you were only doing what they did before you.
It’s the same thing with freelancing: people are much more likely to hire you if they have seen that someone else has done it before, and they have ‘proof’ that you’ve done a good job. Social proof describes our natural human instinct to trust what we learn from the experience of others.
Of course, social proof can only be gained by undertaking projects. If you’re just starting out, you could offer to some unpaid – also known as pro bono – work in return for a social proof like testimonial and ratings on your profile. After you’ve established a good profile, it is time for you to be on the forefront of your potential clients and do projects that pay well!
How to Gain Social Proof as a Freelancer?
Here are few tips to ensure you build a good profile through social proof:
- Research About Your Prospective Clients
Do your research on a potential client: ask creative colleagues and friends if they’ve ever worked with them and if so, what their experience with them was like; Google them, find their social media and judge them based on well-maintained their profiles are.
- Ensure Quality Work and On-Time Delivery
Much of the reputation of freelancer depends on the quality of their work. Whether you’re a novice or not, you need to keep your work at its highest quality. In most cases, this means taking projects you know you can be excellent in and be consistent with your efforts until you complete all of your tasks.
Moreover, never take deadlines for granted, especially if you are the one who set them in the first place. If you cannot complete a project in the time frame required, tell them immediately and do your best to make up for delays.
- Create a Good Customer Experience
Even with great output, a good freelancer can lose clients due to poor customer service. If a client leaves with a bad taste in their mouth and decides to portray your profile in an unflattering light, you are at risk of losing more of your clients and lose your grip on the prospective clients you’re currently bidding.
While there’s no guarantee that you can satisfy all your clients, you can take steps to improve your chances of getting positive results from all your customer’s interactions:
- Be friendly.
- Listen and consider their opinions.
- Be accessible.
- Help them understand your processes and the reasons for the decisions you make.
- Be proactive with mistakes.
- Remember the Do’s and Don’ts When Working Online
Here’s a quick rehash of what and what not to do as a freelancer
- Identify your core offering
- Use a contract for every project.
- Require a client to always make a down payment on a project.
- Learn how to craft a good invoice.
- Be afraid to say “No” if you’re too busy.
- Drop your rates because of promises of “lots more work to come”.
- Slack on preparing and using legally binding contracts.
- Breach any of the Terms and Conditions set out in the Policies and Procedures.
- Negative Feedback Does Not Go away!
While it might seem counter-intuitive to include less than stellar reviews in your profile, it could actually improve the credibility of your social proof. Just look at the e-commerce giant Amazon. Even though not all reviews posted on their website are positive, they still include them all. Just think of it: if all the reviews were full of praise, would you trust that they were authentic?
Try these techniques out for yourself, and let us know how you get on by leaving a comment below. Good luck!