Here’s Why Potential Clients Aren’t Hiring You

If you’re a graphic designer struggling to be awarded projects on freelancing sites, despite restless effort, you’re probably making some mistakes.

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It’s typical to struggle early on, especially when you’re new to the platform and haven’t established much of a track record, but if you’ve been going at this for any longer than a month and still haven’t snagged your first gig, it’s time to take a step back and reassess your approach.

Your Proposal is Lacking

The biggest determining factor in whether or not a client selects you for a project is your written proposal. You may think your portfolio is, but it isn’t. If your proposal is generic copy & paste jargon that gives your client the impression that you didn’t even read their job posting, they’re not even going to bother looking at your portfolio.

It’s like applying for a job and sending in your resume written in crayon on a crumpled up napkin. It doesn’t matter if you have the most impressive credentials and might just be the perfect fit for the job. They’re not going to bother investigating you any further if you made a horrendous first impression.

A common mistake many freelancers make when writing their proposal is talking too much about themselves and their own accolades and not enough about how they can address and solve the client’s problem. You may be a swell person who’s won many awards, have certifications for everything and a degree from the finest university, but I promise you, your client doesn’t care about any of that.

All your client cares about is whether or not your can solve their problem in a timely manner and within budget. This should be the theme of every proposal you write.

Your Response Times are Slow

If someone posted a job 3 days ago and it took you until now to send in your proposal, that’s not going to make a very appealing impression. Clients are impressed with promptness. If you’re one of the first contractors to send in your proposal, not only will clients be grateful for the timely response, but they’ll also take a closer look at your profile and portfolio.

This is why it’s so important to strike while the iron is hot. By the time 10+ other contractors have sent in their proposals, the client isn’t looking as closely at them as they did the first 1-5. It becomes an overwhelming time drain at that point.

I’ve worked with over 1,000 different clients to-date, and the common denominator in all of the positive reviews they’ve left me is how fast I am with responses and revision turnarounds. I’ve had clients remark that working with me was like being seated in the same room. When people need something done, get it done. They’ll be grateful.

This also boils down to behaving in a way that you would expect other professionals to behave. When I do business with someone, I like to know that they respond to emails promptly and always answer their phone. I do not like dealing with 800 numbers, automated phone menus and anonymous submit forms. I expect availability. It should be a top priority for every working professional, including yourself. Be available for your clients.

Your Profile Picture is Leaving A Bad Impression

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Think of a job posting as a job interview and your profile picture as your presence in a job interview. Would you show up to a job interview with your dog while wearing shorts and a hat? Then your profile picture shouldn’t be a bathroom selfie or a picture of you sitting on a motorcycle.

Trust me, we all think your kids and your pets are adorable, but you’re a professional in a professional environment. You have to look the part. Your profile picture should be a professionally-taken business portrait and in business attire.

I’m just scratching the surface

There’s a wide spectrum of reasons why you may not be getting hired for projects. You may not know how to prospect jobs. You may not know how to differentiate serious job posters from tire-kickers. You may not know how to write a compelling “about me” section on your profile. Maybe your portfolio doesn’t take the viewer on a journey, or isn’t demontrating enough variety and versatility.

The sheer amount variables at play in a hiring decision is enough to make your head spin, and it’s far too much for me to cover in just one post. If you want to know exactly how to get hired on freelancing sites, pick up the free guide I’ve written about it. It’s 8,000 words of step-by-step instructions, insights, tips and secrets that I’ve picked up throughout my journey as a freelance designer.

I suggest you wait until you have enough quiet time to relax, read the guide in its entirety and at a comfortable pace so you can soak in all of the information.

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Nick Saporito

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design.

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