Approaching a quality freelancer should be done with the upmost care. It’s not that different than approaching a beautiful woman or a handsome guy. After all, you’re hoping that it will turn out to be a mutually satisfying relationship. There are ways to start off on the right foot, and of course ways that will almost certainly guarantee you never get a reply.
Now why should I care you’re thinking? I’m the client, I have the money, I have the power! Wrong. The better the freelancer, the more they can pick and choose to work with whomever they want. The really good ones are like super models, everybody wants them, and only a few are lucky enough to hire them. To catch their interest in the first email or call, you have to be smart in how you approach them.
What you should never say
I can’t tell you how many emails from prospective clients I’ve ignored because they all make one single common mistake. They ask me in the very first email “How much does it cost?” If you ask a freelancer that before you’ve even talked to them, you’ve almost certainly identified yourself as a low quality lead and it’s likely you’ll be ignored. Estimation requires a solid understanding of the project. How can they get that understanding when they haven’t even talked to you? They certainly can’t get that from your single paragraph description of the “Killer Web Site” you want them to design. You need to give them a chance to go through their natural discovery process with you, and that can take some time. There are likely a hundred things they can suggest that you haven’t even thought of. Remember, working with a Freelancer is a partnership, not a dictatorship.
10 things you should say
- Be personable. Introduce yourself properly and tell them a bit about you personally. If they feel like you are nice and they’ll enjoy interacting with you, then they are more likely to work for you.
- Let them know how you found them. They are often curious about that, and it can tell them a lot about the context of your inquiry.
- Compliment them on their work. A little flattery goes a long way. The better a freelancer is, often the bigger the ego.
- Play hard to get. Explain that you have a possible opportunity for them to be involved in your great project, and that you will need to know more about them before you engage. Play it cool, it peaks their interest and shows that you are savvy.
- Provide a short summary. Tell them about the project in short and concise manner. Don’t go into too much detail. If your email is 5 pages of requirements they will wonder why you are sending your entire plan to a complete stranger.
- Cater to their interests. Ask them if this type of project interests them and if they like doing this type of work? They will be happy that you care enough to ask.
- Champion the social good. If your project has a social good aspect or benefits people in general, explain that to them. Everybody likes to work on projects that make them feel like they’re contributing to society and making a difference.
- Ask for help building the team. If you need more than just 1 resource, then ask them if they know any good freelancers in those other areas? Freelancers like to partner up with other freelancer friends, it makes things fun and it’s a win-win as they likely work well together.
- Request a follow up call. This is the professional way to end a Freelancer inquiry and sets you up to talk to them in more detail about your project.
- Don’t be impatient. If you don’t hear from them, give it a while before you email them again. No one likes to be stalked, it’s likely they are just busy or haven’t had a chance to respond yet.
I hope that helps you attract the best Freelancer to start your project relationship with! Who knows, it could turn into something really special.