Agencies and freelancers are frequently looking for more appointments and leads to scale their business. In fact, I’d say that more appointments is the number one reason why freelancers and agencies reach out to us. However, the strategies we share in our Agency Ascendancy Program™ are tailored to work for businesses that already make $10K+/mo and are looking to scale to $100K+/mo.
This short guide is for agencies and freelancers who are NOT yet making $10K/mo, and want to secure appointments and leads so they can scale to that level. I will share with you the top 5 strategies to get there, in order of importance.
1. SEO Optimize Freelance Platforms to Get More Leads
This is the easiest but most neglected strategy. Freelance platforms already have a steady stream of prospects who are already looking to buy your services. You don’t have to convince them that they need the service, they are already convinced of that. All you need to do is convince them that you’re the best person or agency to help them out. It really doesn’t get easier than this.
When it comes to securing more appointments, for this reason, freelance platforms are the low-hanging fruit. The biggest freelance platforms by far are Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, and Fiverr.com. Out of those three, the one that should get most of your attention is Upwork – it tends to draw the best and highest paying clients, in the largest numbers.
On all those platforms, there are 2 factors that will determine most of your success: (a) your activity on the platform (how many jobs you apply to, the quality of testimonials), and (b) how optimized your profile or gig is for the platform’s search engine.
(a) Getting Activity on the Platform
If you’re new to Upwork, as a freelancer you can just open a freelancer account. If you’re an agency, from your freelancer account, you can open an agency account. An agency account is great because you’ll be able to hire a VA to take care of applying for jobs on your behalf, thus automating the lead generation aspect.
In both cases, you want to make sure that you start applying to relevant jobs. What tends to work best is to keep the application short, less than 500 characters (NOT words), showcase you understand the project, convey your credibility, and ask the person who posted the job to chat if interested.
Typically, most successful agencies and freelancers develop templates that can be individualized based on the job they are applying to. They will have, for example, the same credibility statement, the same call to action, but an individualized first line that shows an understanding of the project.
The most important factor on freelancing platforms is your credibility. You want to protect your reputation above everything, and ensure you get great testimonials. Ask every client you have for a great testimonial, and explain how important their testimonial is for you. If you’re entirely new, and don’t have any testimonials, take on some smaller jobs for very little money just so you can get the testimonials flowing!
(b) Optimizing for SEO
You’ll want to make sure that both your personal profile as well as the agency profile if you have one are optimized for SEO. Optimizing your profile for SEO, is different than optimizing your website for SEO.
The key here is that platform search engines are stupid and less developed than Google. So for them, it’s still mostly about keyword usage and the volume of keywords.
Have a look at this profile (yes, you’ll need to have an account to see it, so please create one if you don’t already have one). This profile ranks number one in Upwork search results when anyone searches for “copywriter” enabling the owner to get a steady stream of leads without doing anything.
Here’s what you want to take careful note of:
• The headline using just 1 word, being the keyword of “Copywriter” itself.
• The portfolio section, with attention-grabbing images, used less as a portfolio, and much more as ads for the different services. Notice how keywords such as “Copywriter” keep popping up in all the titles and descriptions, especially early on in the titles and descriptions. Notice also the sheer number of portfolio items – once again, these are used just for SEO, not as actual portfolio pieces by the looks of it.
• Next notice the detailed description below the headline. It is populated with keywords and acts as a sales letter for hiring him.
• Next go to the “Employment History” and “Other Experiences” sections. Notice how many elements, even though they are repetitive, are added for SEO. Once again, notice the most important keywords showing up, especially early in the titles and descriptions. This is all done for SEO optimization.
If you optimize your profiles in a similar fashion, AND you consistently get activity on the platform, you can get a steady stream of 15-25 leads per week in many cases just from Upwork. This alone can translate to $10-20K worth of work per month!
2. Start More Conversations to Get More Appointments
Your number of leads is directly proportional to the number of conversations you start. If you start more conversations, you’ll get more leads, it’s that easy. However, most new freelancers or agencies are starting an average of 0-3 conversations per day. With those numbers, it’s no wonder you’re not getting any leads.
So start by asking yourself where your customers hang out. Are there any Facebook groups where you can find a larger number of them? Any LinkedIn groups? Any online forums?
You will want to join those places and become a peer. Not an annoying seller, but a peer, someone who is there to be part of the community, not just to find clients. Then you want to start conversations with people.
Ask them about their business, challenges they are facing, and so on. Give them tips based off what you’ve seen from them, and seek to help. For example, on LinkedIn, have a look at their profile. Are there any ways they could improve something? In literarily 99.9% of cases, the answer is a resounding yes. So give them some tips.
Once you start conversations around providing value and caring for others, you’ll have a much easier time to get people interested in a natural way in what you do, and hence obtain leads. You should aim to start anywhere between 25 to 200 conversations per day. The effectiveness of this strategy is in the numbers!
3. Ask for Referrals to Double Your Appointments
You want to ask pretty much everyone you interact with if they know others from your niche whom you could help. You’ve already invested the time to interact with them – might as well maximise the results you’re getting.
Not everyone you speak with will be a good fit for you. That’s not a problem. Even in those cases you want to ask them if they know anyone whom you could help. Consider providing an incentive as well. Offer them a 20% discount for the person they refer on any of your services. Make referring you into a favor they can do for one of their best friends.
And it goes without saying that for those who do become clients, you’ll also want to ask them for referrals as well. They have the added advantage that you could offer THEM a discount, or even a cutback on the earnings from any referrals they make for you. These strategies are limited only by your creativity.
Once you get very good at working referrals, you may find out that you don’t need any other form of marketing to scale to $10K/mo… it has happened to several people I’ve taught this strategy to!
4. Share Valuable Insights
This isn’t a short term strategy, but you want to create content that shares valuable insights. You should put it on your blog, on forums, on social media, everywhere you can get it.
The reason being that when people search you out or show some interest in you, you want them to find this valuable content so they can see further proof that you are an authority and know what you’re talking about.
It will also make your life much easier, because rather than repeating yourself, you can point someone to one of your pieces of content.
When developing your insights, make sure that you create content that is relevant to the things that people actually care about. Don’t create fluff. Don’t write for SEO. Make content that’s so good that people will want to read and share it.
5. Keep & Nurture an Email List
And finally, not everyone is ready to buy the moment you connect with them. Usually only around 12% will become buyers in the next 45 days. 40% will usually never buy, and the other 48% will become buyers in the next 5 years if you nurture them.
So if all you’re looking for is immediate buyers, you’ll be missing out on most of the people who could eventually become buyers given enough time.
The way to capture those people is by getting them on an email list, so you can keep sharing valuable insights with them, stay top of mind, and get them more and more interested in what you offer. Don’t forget that familiarity breeds liking, which breeds trust. And trust means more business for you.
The way to get them on the email list is easy. Simply ask them, after you’ve provided some value to them, if they’d like to join the email list to get more insights that can help them. Then if they say yes, add them into it, and start emailing them. You can use a free service such as Aweber to get started with this.
The best content to share in your email list: case studies, testimonials, stories, insights, tips, tricks, strategies… all the good stuff. Feel free to send it anywhere from 1 to 3 times per week.
So you’ve got 5 main ways to get more appointments for your agency or freelancing business. They are as follows:
- SEO optimize freelance platforms
- Start more conversations
- Ask for referrals
- Share valuable insights
- Keep & nurture an email list
You should use a combination of them, and if you do this well, you’ll easily scale to $10-20K/month. Especially the first two strategies are very powerful. And once you’re there, book a time with us so that we can take you to $100K/mo with guaranteed results.