Stefan Palios is a freelance coach, writer, and creator of The Growth Blueprint. He helps other freelancers, coaches, and creators finetune their business practices and land more (great) clients. We chatted with him about his method for identifying and landing new business.
Read on to hear his pro tips.
Finding the Right Clients
1. How did you figure out what the “right” client meant for you?
The right client is someone who meets the following criteria:
- They need the services you offer right now.
- They have the budget to pay for your services (or at least a small/starter amount) right now.
- They can articulate the larger goal or reason for needing your services. (For example: If you’re a writer, what is the content you’re writing going to be used for?).
- They are willing and able to give you the information or time you need in order to get the work done.
This definition came from an exclusive focus on one thing: What do I need in order to deliver a high-quality outcome for my clients?
The right client isn’t any one personality or type of person. The right client is the one you can actually deliver for.
2. Do you have a method for qualifying clients and making sure they’re a good fit?
Yes! I use a process I built called The Wave.
The Wave has three key goals:
- Identify the business outcomes that a potential client is looking for.
- Build an understanding of how my work connects to their goals.
- Quickly build trust between me and the potential client.
It’s a series of questions in a very specific order: about them, about the business, about the project at hand, and about your work. Within each type of question, you start general then go deeper.
This is a key part of my coaching program, called The Growth Blueprint for Freelancers, Coaches, and Creators, where I teach not only the structure but share hard-hitting questions to ask that get clients to open up about what they truly want and need.
3. How did you get past the burden of feeling like you *needed* to take on any client that was willing to pay you?
The moment I had an emergency fund, I stopped taking on bad-fit clients.
But building an emergency fund was NOT just about making more money.
Here’s what I did:
- I opened a business bank account and put all income from clients into that account.
- I paid myself the smallest salary I could manage (covering my essentials and a little bit of personal savings).
- I left the rest of the money in the account and accrued 4 months of essential pay.
Making money was a big part of it, but the foundation was opening a separate bank account and treating myself like an employee of the business. I got my salary, but the profits were kept in the business for a rainy day.
When you think like an entrepreneur in this regard — watching out for profits — you free yourself from having to take bad-fit clients just for the cash.
4. How did you build up your referral network in an authentic way to ensure a steady stream of freelance clients?
Building a steady stream of referral clients is a function of three things:
- Presence: You can’t expect to get referrals from any place you aren’t present in, both physical and digital. You need to be easy to get a hold of!
- Engagement: Talking to people in general (even if it’s just engaging on social media) is a powerful way to build a network before you need it.
- Asking: Don’t ask for referrals. (That’s just asking for a favor). Instead, offer to help people who might need your services.
My business is built almost entirely from networking and referrals, and I built a powerful framework that gets me new leads almost weekly. I teach the framework (and how to build it from scratch, even with a small or no network) in The Growth Blueprint for Freelancers, Coaches, and Creators.
5. How does the Growth Blueprint help freelancers earn more and do so while working with clients they enjoy?
The Growth Blueprint is focused on one thing: helping freelancers, coaches, and creators rapidly scale to six-figure revenues with full control over their schedule, clients, and work.
The program is six weeks long and features live 1:1 coaching from yours truly each week. You also get continued access to course content and coaching so you can always refer back when you need to.
Here’s what each week covers:
Week 1: The Mindsets and Behaviors of Success
Week 2: Introduction to Tools to Support Your Success
Week 3: Secret Weapons for Closing Massive ($10k+) Deals Quickly
Week 4: Closing + Proposals
Week 5: Social Media Marketing, Personal Positioning, and Client Funnel Creation
Week 6: Contracts + Accepting the Right Clients
You can check out more information here.
Or shoot me your questions on Twitter – DM me on Twitter!
6. Any additional advice for freelancers who need help identifying and closing the right kind of clients?
The best clients for other people are not necessarily the best clients for you, and vice versa.
Instead of worrying about other people’s clients, think about your TNN: Talent, Network, and Needs.
Talent – What are you good at that you actually like doing?
Network – Who do you know right now that might need your work (or know someone who does)?
Needs – What needs would someone have where your services would be valuable?
This framework is a simple yet powerful way to understand how you can stand out in a crowded freelance market. Even if you’re doing the same skill as someone else, your TNN encompasses everything that makes you unique.