Finding Clients

I buy groceries with the help of my toddler. He likes naming and counting food. I like getting the job done. Win-win. Today in line, a young woman offered me her nannying services while in line. Total stranger. Hit me up for a job.

We can learn things from this experience.

On the plus side:

  • She observed the first rule of freelance job hunting: tell everybody what you do, and ask them to pay you for doing it.
  • She opened the conversation by demonstrating knowledge of her field. In this case, she engaged me about parenting and her experience with children.
  • She asked me for work in a straightforward, almost abrupt, manner.
  • She told me about her experience level, and offered to provide references.
  • Her entire communication was professional, yet approachable and friendly.

An overall excellent pitch. Now for the bad news.

She was dressed in a ratty sweatshirt and very (very) tight camo pants. I know it was Sunday morning at the grocery store, and she apologized for the outfit. But if you’re in the game of asking for work every time you leave the house — be dressed for work every time you leave the house.

She smelled like cigarette smoke. I don’t consider this the sin many people seem to think it is these days, but is a deal-breaker for anybody who wants to spend time with my kid — and it’s a common deal-breaker in my part of the country. That’s simple market research. If a certain behavior will keep you from getting good clients…discontinue that behavior.

As it turns out, I already have an excellent nanny. I took her information and plan to pass it on to some parents I know who are smokers themselves.

What can this tell us about job hunting as freelancers? Comments below, please….


5 thoughts on “Finding Clients

  1. Sounds like pretty solid advice. Marginally related: Whenever I’d helped interview candidates at the companies I’ve worked, even if the office itself was a very casual environment (shorts and sandals were fairly common), if the candidate wasn’t wearing slacks and a button-up, collared shirt for the interview, we generally didn’t ask them back… What are some other negative behaviors you’ve seen, more specific to freelance writing?

    Side note: I dig the new font. My eyes thank you!

    • I don’t hire a lot of freelance writers, but I hear a lot of complaints about unprofessional attitudes…being an “artist” first and a contractor second.

      In a group interview once, another candidate admitted lying to his current boss so he could attend the interview. That may be the worst I’ve seen personally.

  2. The old adage is still true. “Dress for the job you want not the job you have.” Still seems to be very sound advice.

    • Absolutely agree, Nic. Some old chestnuts are like old soldiers…there’s a reason they’re still around after so long. Mess with them at your peril.

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