When you find a great potential client for your freelance blogging services, what happens next?
You grab their email address and shoot them your best pitch, right?
But how many times have you excitedly fired off a pitch, only to find out later that you were pitching the wrong prospect? Maybe they don’t have the money to hire you. Maybe they don’t need your services.
If that’s ever happened to you, you’re not alone. It happens a lot, not just to freelancers like you but to big corporations, too.
And the simple reason behind this? Failure to pre-qualify prospects before making an offer.
Unfortunately, not many freelance bloggers take the time to assess and pre-qualify prospective clients before pitching. But here’s the deal: if you do, you’ll get far better results.
Why you want to pre-qualify your leads
Pre-qualifying a prospective client means evaluating them to see if they’re a good fit for your services and if they meet your minimum requirements.
If you are (and you should be) a choosy freelancer who maintains high standards when it comes to taking on freelance projects, then this is for you. Or if you’ve been less choosy and now you’re ready to ditch the clients who aren’t willing to pay a fair rate, this is definitely for you.
Pre-qualifying your freelance prospects before pitching them holds many benefits. Here are a few:
- You’ll see how legit a potential freelance opportunity is before you jump on it.
- You’ll have a smaller but better-quality prospect list.
- You’ll know more about your potential clients before you pitch.
- You’ll pitch only to people who are willing and able to hire you.
- You’ll avoid wasting time on dead-end freelance leads.
When you know about your potential clients and their needs, you’ll be able to tailor your pitch emails to address them personally and to address those needs. That alone boosts your possibility of winning the gig.
Here are seven easy, yet practical, ways you can assess your prospects to see how qualified they are for your freelance blogging services:
7 ways to pre-qualify your prospects
1. Check their job openings
This doesn’t mean checking to see if they’re recruiting for the role you want (i.e. “freelance blogger”). They may or may not list your desired position.
You’re checking for one simple reason: when a company lists job openings, it’s an indication that they have extra money to spend.
You want to pitch a client who’s willing to pay at least one more person to join their team. Listed job openings are a good sign of this.
Don’t know how or where to find a prospect’s job openings? Simple! While on the client’s website, look out for links with such anchor text as “jobs,” “careers,” “join our team,” etc.
Tip: Even though you won’t be directly looking for the position of blogger, keep an eye out for it as well as similar roles such as “content writer”. When pitching, you could mention any relevant career opportunity they’re already advertising.
2. Check their income
No matter how good the opportunity is, if the client doesn’t have enough money to pay you, you won’t be happy working with them. So before pitching a client, do a little research to see if they have the financial power to afford your services.
Some clients may publish their income report online, but if they don’t, there are a few other ways you can get to know their worth.
For instance, check out their products’ prices. If they’re selling items priced at $5,000, they’d only need one extra sale to cover your fees.
3. Follow their money to its source
Next, check to see if your prospective clients are selling a real product or service, rather than placing ads next to content and waiting for visitors’ clicks to create revenue.
A prospect’s business model more or less tells you how much they’re likely to earn, which ultimately tells you whether they’ll be able to pay your rates or not. A company without a clearly defined product or service is unlikely to make a good client.
So before pitching any client, take a look at how they are making their money. If it’s pay per click, run for your freelance career! You don’t want to end up with a client who uses your writing as “the product” while waiting for ads or affiliate links to get clicked before they pay you.
4. Look up their social media profiles
Social networks are some of the best places to see the legitimacy of your prospective clients. You can see what they’ve been saying and what people have been saying about them.
Negative customer comments and feedback are a red light, while praise from customers shows that the company is worth working with.
Social media also shows how keen the prospect is to communicate with their audience online — useful to know before you offer your freelance blogging services.
5. Check their contact information
Is the prospect’s contact information displayed on their website? Phone numbers, email addresses and, most important, their street address?
If the only means of getting to them is through a contact form on their site, it could mean they don’t have a solid offline presence. And that means trouble if ever you need to contact them and they simply don’t respond.
This is somewhat connected to point #3 above. A company that sells real-world products or services will typically have an offline office that people can visit (or at least write to).
6. Look for social proof
Social proof is a catch-all term for testimonials, case studies, Facebook Likes, etc.
You check out a prospect’s social proof because it shows three things:
- The client’s track record of success.
- The amount of happy customers or employees who trust the client.
- The length of time the client’s been in business.
But what if a client doesn’t have social proof? Does it mean they aren’t trustworthy? No — not every prospect you find will have a ton of social proof, but a good number of them will.
7. Check their transparency
You don’t want to end up working with people who aren’t trusted even by their customers — people who aren’t transparent (not in the sense of seeing through them, but in the sense of being open and candid).
If their website’s visitors don’t trust them, that affects your work if you blog for that company. People don’t read a blog they don’t trust.
Legitimate companies who have nothing to hide will always be transparent with their customers. If a company cannot be transparent, they probably aren’t going to be your best client. And if they’re not interested in sharing information with their customers, there’s no point offering them blogging services.
Some things to look out for when checking to see how transparent a company is with their customers are their press releases, their blog, their Facebook page, and team members’ profiles or bios on their website.
Here’s the hard, cold truth: As a freelance blogger who’s got bills to pay, you cannot afford to work with every client. Not all prospects are worth pursuing.
The only way to identify the most (and least) promising prospects in advance is through pre-qualification.
What does it mean when a prospect doesn’t qualify?
It means the prospect does not meet the minimum requirement, either financially or otherwise, to hire your freelance services and be able to pay YOUR rates.
And what should you do if that’s the case?
Drop them, period.
You want leads that increase your chances of getting new clients and ultimately help you build a strong freelance clientele, not ones that will eat up your time without any tangible result.
I don’t advocate working for low pay or working with a client ‘for now’ with the hope that they’ll raise the pay when business goes up. Just drop them and move on to better-paying clients.
And yes, there really are better-paying ones out there!
How do you pre-qualify your prospects before pitching them? We’d love to read your opinions in the comments.