This is a guest post by Rebekah Mays, the owner of Thrive Copywriting. She helps sustainable and purpose-driven brands grow their leads and sales through SEO content strategy and writing. You can learn more about her and her growing community of conscientious marketers at www.thrivecopywriting.com.
Imagine a pristine office building … a building with plenty of light, and lots of leafy plants.
The building has four main floors. The public is allowed to visit the lobby, but only specially invited guests are allowed on floors two and up.
Now imagine if just anyone was allowed to visit any floor of this beautiful building.
At best, the building wouldn’t be able to serve its purpose of providing a welcoming, orderly environment for the people doing business inside.
At worst, the inappropriate behavior of a few random people might destroy the building over time.
Your freelance creative business is a lot like this beautiful office building.
If you allow only specific people to visit each “floor” of your business, things can stay functional and pleasant for everybody.
But let random people roam around wherever they please … and anything could happen.
Today, let’s map out a possible floorplan for your business, and explain how you can use this system to keep your business thriving.
The Lobby – All are Welcome
In an office building, the lobby is the place where visitors are welcome. Here, they can stroll around, admire the architecture, and maybe even enjoy a glass of cucumber water.
It’s a welcoming and pleasant place. But importantly, the building’s security system ensures that only approved people can go up the elevator and into the upper levels.
So what is the “lobby” of your freelance business?
Your lobby might be things like your LinkedIn profile, your website, and your content marketing. In other words, your public-facing marketing material.
This content exists to inform acquaintances, strangers, and most importantly, potential clients about what you do.
But you also need to have a “security system” in place – some checkpoints to make sure that only invited guests can take the elevator to levels two and higher.
Whatever your criteria, the point is that not everyone who visits your lobby should automatically be allowed to visit the upper floors.
Floor 2 – Your Prospects
If the lobby is your public-facing online presence, then what’s the second floor?
In our office building analogy, and in your freelance business, floor two is for guests who are ready to talk business.
This might be in the form of a free discovery or introductory call, a back-and-forth email exchange, or a full proposal process. Before they enter level two, you may have already done some vetting, such as having them fill out a questionnaire about the project they want to discuss.
The point of level two is to get to know your prospect better and – though you may not say it – vet them carefully. If they pass your criteria, and they are ready to move forward, they can move up to level three, where they become a client.
In the early days of your freelance business, you might be quite generous about inviting guests to level two, because you want to talk to anyone and everyone willing to give you the time of day.
But as your business grows, you can be more and more selective about who gets to talk business with you. After all, you only have “office space” for so many people!
Floor 3 – Your Clients
Now, we get to the floor where the actual business starts happening. And again, guests need a special pass to visit floor three.
In your own freelance business, it’s very important to make sure that your prospects go through the proper checkpoints before you start working on a project with them.
For a prospect to become a client, they should:
- Be a good fit for you (You find this out on “floor 2”)
- Pay a deposit
- Sign an agreement
All of this protects you as the business owner, and makes it more likely that the project will be a success.
Once a prospect officially becomes a client, and you work on a project together, they may stay on level three for a while.
Depending on how you well you work together, you may decide you don’t want to work with them anymore. Or, you may decide to eventually invite them to an even higher floor.
Top Floor – Your VIPs
Now we get to the most beautiful floor of the building – the top floor.
This floor has a breathtaking view outside its windows and is equipped with all sorts of amenities to make your guests comfortable. In fact, this floor is so special that you only bring VIPs to it.
In your freelance business, this level is when you provide the best possible service to your best clients.
These are clients you have a track history with, who you really trust, and who have no issue paying you your premium rates. They appreciate what you do, and you love working with them.
Because of this, you have the energy and bandwidth to roll out the red carpet and make sure you’re giving them outstanding service.
Of course, if your VIPs misbehave, you may decide to revoke their access to this level. But most likely, if they’ve gone through all the checkpoints so far, you will both stay very happy and can enjoy the views together.
Your Task: Map Out Your Floorplan … and Install Security
As I’ve started thinking about my business in this way, I’ve learned that I am my own architect, security guard, and account manager. It’s a lot of responsibility … but it’s also very empowering.
First, it’s up to me to decide how I’m going to lay out my business … or to figure out the “floorplan.”
Then, it’s up to me to vet prospects, to communicate clearly and tactfully with them which floors are open to them, and to escort out anyone who’s misbehaving.
All of this supports my ultimate role of account manager, where I provide excellent service to wonderful prospects and clients.
So now it’s your turn – take a few minutes to journal about the following:
- What happens on each floor of your business? What are your “checkpoints”?
- Do you have any clients you need to “show the door?”
- Are you pampering your great clients enough?
Let us know what you discover!