A lot of freelancers can relate to this.
You construct that perfect email to hopefully secure that commission, you ring that potential customer, you even meet with them in person after a networking event to showcase what you do…but instead of success, you receive the classic “I’ll put you on file” response.
Whether you’re a freelance illustrator, designer, or copywriter, this is a response you have probably come across at least once (and if you haven’t, you’re lucky!).
It can certainly feel like a kick in the teeth to any freelancer, as you feel you’re so close to that next commission, that next client, or that next sale, but they have no work for you (currently speaking).
It can certainly be disappointing.
However, it’s a perfectly acceptable response.
Even though it’s frustrating for any freelancer, and especially if you receive it more than once, sometimes, that’s all people can offer.
This blog post is definitely not slamming those who give this response. If I were in their shoes but have no work to give others, then I would probably reply the same way.
But how do you cope with this response as a freelancer, and what advice can you learn to not let it affect you?
Within this blog post I’m going to be sharing tips to help you handle, recover, and deal with this classic response – so you can still survive as a freelancer, keep building your business, and maintain that healthy, self confident mentality.
My Personal Connection
I’ve wanted to write this blog post for a while now, as it’s certainly happened to me before.
As a freelancer myself, I need to reach out to people to secure new commissions and clients. It’s an ongoing activity, which never really stops. With this, I know I’m going to be rejected a hell of a lot, which comes pass and parcel with this line of work.
Luckily I’ve been fortunate to receive many commissions from those who approach me directly, which keeps this response and rejection to a minimum.
However when I reach out to others, I know I will eventually receive this response.
I’ve learnt how to deal with it, and I have developed a self confidence and belief in myself to keep reaching out. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating (and again – this isn’t me moaning about it, just the truth of how it feels).
Some potential clients seem to have myself on their books for years, without ever working with me. On the other hand, I’ve had those who have come back to me – which shows you, it really is luck of the draw.
This is why I’m keen to share this post, so let me reveal my first tip to help you deal with rejection…
Keep On Their Case
Potential clients might not have work for you when you reach out to them. This doesn’t mean they will not have work for you in the future.
When potential clients give you this response, they can unfortunately forget about your freelancer services in the future (even though you’re supposedly on their books).
It’s all about timing!
They may need that editorial illustration, need a copywriter, or need that art director at any point, so it’s imperative that you keep on their case.
How can you achieve this?
– Ask if you can send them your monthly email newsletter
– Inquire when you can re-contact with them (when a particular commission might arise)
– Make a note to contact them in a month, 2 months, 3 months time
– Arrange a 1 to 1 meeting to get to know each other
– Focus on building strong relationships
The essence here is to not let them forget you.
Keep on their case without annoying them, spamming them or making them hate you.
Tip 1 – Keep on their case.
Reach Out To Others
Reach out to other people, as others may have work for you.
Even though one particular client has you on their books, another person out there might be desperately looking for your talent (whatever that may be).
Don’t let this response hinder your motivation and drive to keep reaching out to people and searching for that next customer.
If every business thought like this, and gave up after a rejection, then there would be no businesses in the world.
Tip 2: Keep reaching out to others – you’ll be rewarded.
Contact Your Ideal Client
Who is that one client your work, product, or service, is made for?
For example, if you’re a freelance illustrator like myself, you might love map illustration, and everything that revolves around it.
Whoever your perfect client is, make sure you contact them, as these people are the people that will (hopefully) jump up at your work.
Even if these people reject you, you’ll be so perfect for them, that they will be more likely to reconsider or make sure they commission you in the future (as you’re perfect for them).
Tip 3: Contact your ideal client.
Turn The Tables In Your Favour
Reduce the amount of rejections you receive by encouraging others to contact you instead.
This is one of the things I’ve been working on, by getting my website in tip top condition to encourage others to hire me, instead of me reaching out.
So what can you do to encourage others to contact you?
- Improve your website: SEO, CTA’s, copy, imagery .etc
- Build your social media following
- Put your work on an online platform that sells and markets your work for you (for example, a PRO Dribbble account for creatives)
- Attend networking events to build relationships (and entice others to enquire about your services)
Tip 4: Improve your website, marketing efforts, and enhance your changes of others contacting you
Concentrate On Building Relationships
If you receive this classic response, try and not dismiss the client entirely.
Sure, they may not have work for you, but concentrate on building your relationship with them, so they’re more likely to come back to you in the future.
Try and focus on building relationships with the people you want to do business with, with the focus of you helping them, not them helping you.
You want to build relationships like a friendship. You want to treat them with respect, you want them to come to you when they need help, and they need to trust you.
– Add them on Linkedin
– Engage with them on social media
– Share their content
– Approach them if you see them at conferences
Not only will this build your customer relationships, it will ensure that work keeps coming your way, even if you do receive this response.
Tip 5: Don’t dismiss potential clients entirely, but focus on building strong relationships
How Have You Dealt With This Freelancer Problem?
I hope you have discovered and learnt a few tips on how to deal with the classic “I’ll put you on file” response. It’s a classic response for anyone who is a freelance illustrator for hire. We have all been there!
If you take just one tip away from this blog post – is to not give up! Keep working, keep hustling and keep reaching out to people.
I’ll love to know how you deal with this response or rejection yourself, and if you can offer any tips and advice that I may have missed.
Do comment me below, I’ll love to hear from you and hear what you think about this topic.
If you’re unfamiliar with myself and my illustration work, do have a look at my illustration portfolio or check out my illustration, design and freelancing blog for more juicy content!
Thanks guys, and I look forward to sharing more great content soon!
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