The time comes in every freelancer’s career as it will inevitably come to you, when he or she is ready to start pitching to big brand corporations and enterprise customers with common household names. Naturally this process can be enough to make any freelancer feel a little nervous. After all, selling a logo design to a local florist and to The Home Depot can be two completely different experiences. So where do you start? Here are six top tips for adding big brand names to your freelance portfolio.
Know your audience
Before selling to an enterprise customer, do your homework. Has the company hired freelancers in the past? What was the approximate rate these freelancers were paid? Also, research how your skills and expertise fit into their current brand and their goals for their brand. There may be further opportunity waiting behind the scenes in their strategic roadmap you can capitalize on.
Perfect your portfolio
Your business website and your online portfolio should be in tip-top shape before you start prospecting to big-name clients. Make sure examples of your best work are accessible. Ask some of your clients to write testimonials for you. Or, if you don’t have a lot of experience yet, find ways to showcase what you are capable of. If you’re a graphic designer, complete some case studies by picking a couple websites that, in a perfect world, would be clients of yours, and design new sites for them. If you’re a freelance writer, offer to write a resume for a friend who’s job hunting, pen a grant letter for a local school, or utilize free sites such as Helium and EHow to publish some of your work. If you’re a freelance photographer, offer to shoot a local charity event pro-bono to bolster up your portfolio stocks.
Take some initiative
What are you willing to do to get this big brand name client, how can you gain their interest and attention? If you’re a freelance editor, consider editing a 10-page sample for free. If you’re a designer, do an analysis of the company’s website for no charge. Pique the client’s interest and make sure you can follow through by doing excellent work on the subsequent job.
Find the right contact
Large corporations often have a significant number of people working for them. With the Ma and Pa company down the street from you, you can directly contact the owner(s). Not so much with a huge corporation. It might take a little bit of sleuthing to find out whom you need to speak to for your line of work, but persist because either face to face or over the phone contact is incredibly helpful during a tendering process.
Don’t just email the first “contact” link you find on the company’s website. Take the time to figure out who the decision maker is. Don’t be afraid to call the company and say something to the effect of, “I’d like to send my portfolio over to the person in charge of making decisions regarding (insert your line of work here). Could you please tell me who that is?”
Act like you’ve done this before
Even if inside you are thinking, “Holy smokes, this will be the biggest client I have ever landed!” try not to let it show. Of course, it’s fine to show enthusiasm and zeal for all of your clients. However, often-times when freelancers approach large companies or a companies they consider to be enterprise customers, it sounds something like, “I’ve never worked with a company as big as yours before, but…” or “I may be just a freelancer, but…” Try to avoid statements such as these. Remind yourself that you have skills that are highly valuable to this company, and just as valuable as the full time employers on their staff. Don’t give them any reason to think you’re not capable of handling the job with the utmost professionalism and expertise.
If you get the job, deliver the work on time and to budget
The number one pet hate for big brand companies (and really everyone) is that work is delivered late or over budget. The impact on a big brand can be catastrophic in particular if work is delivered late because it may coincide with a public event, internal event, or be part of a larger overall strategy which is dependent upon your part, and you would hate to be the cog in the churning wheel to under-perform. Even worse, if you miss a deadline which has an effect on a big brand company in the media or public market; disaster! So stay very aware of how you’re tracking and keep the communication lines open to avoid any problems.
Landing enterprise customers can mean steady, long-term work, and a steady pay stream as well. So if you’re ready to take on some big brand clients, follow these tips and go for it. Remember the fact that you are a freelancer will not work against you. But if you think this makes you less qualified than other candidates, then your mindset alone will work against you.