Being a More Successful Freelancer Required One Key Skill

Because marketing wasn't enough to get business


Charles Tumiotto Jackson

3 years ago | 3 min read

I started freelancing about three years ago.

I didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship, and I didn’t know a lot more about business. I was fresh out of school, and I had a few opportunities to help a few companies with their digital marketing strategies. So I jumped on the opportunity, and I used this small pool of clients as a way to kickstart my own social media business.

It went fine until I had to find other clients. That’s when I realized that I had no idea where to start.

Creating Content is Important, but It’s Not Everything

I started writing on my blog and here on Medium. Through content, I thought that I would prove my worth, and potential clients get confident in hiring me after reading my articles.

And I wasn’t wrong, because it did work. I was getting a few inbound contacts every week. The problem was that I had a tough time converting these inbound leads into clients.

I was getting upset. I thought that I was a good professional. I always made sure that working with me is easy. I always made sure to deliver the work in time and with a high-quality standard. I kept up with the most recent trends… I was a good professional, and I found it frustrating these leads would not give me a chance.

I kept reading about the benefits of working for free, but that didn’t feel like the right solution to me. After all, why would these people hire me after I deliver everything for free?

At this point, I started doubting everything I’ve been reading about content creation. I was writing a lot, but I wasn’t getting new clients.

After a while, I realized what the problem was. Content creation was working well for me as it was doing what it’s supposed to do: getting inbound leads. But the real problem was me: I wasn’t able to convert these leads into paying clients.

Selling Is Your Number 1 Job as a Freelancer

Getting a client to reach out to me, explain their problem, and getting them on a call was relatively easy and somewhat automatic.

After publishing nearly a hundred articles on both my blog and Medium, I had a pretty steady flow of inbound leads. But my problem was that I couldn’t get these people to become clients.

I had to get better at selling.

So I started learning about sales. I started learning about understanding my leads’ real pain points and providing an unresistible solution for them.

I also started understanding that not every single lead is worth turning into a paying client and that, sometimes, it’s better to help a client for free through a quick phone call rather than pushing a sale.

Understanding sales is the skill that truly helped me get to the next step as a freelancer.

Working on selling helped me get new clients, but it also helped me provide more value to my customers. I now knew precisely what my leads were looking for, I knew precisely how much my help was worth, and I knew when my help wasn’t what they were looking for.

I was able to convert around 25% of my inbound leads into clients. The rest either didn’t work, or we both realized working together wouldn’t be the right answer to either of our needs.

This 25% figure may not seem like much for many people, but it’s a lot better than 0. I can safely assume learning about sales had the most significant leverage in my business since I started.

If You’re a Freelancer, You Need to Be a Salesperson

Before learning about sales, I was continually reading about marketing, social media, and productivity. I followed all the trends, and I spent most of my energy trying to keep up with the latest trends.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was procrastinating.

Sure, knowing about what works is essential. Becoming better at your job is essential. But if you can’t get clients to work with you, your skills become pointless.

As a freelancer, doing your job is the easy part. The challenge is about finding paying clients consistently.

You can learn as much as you want about your job, it won’t help you get clients. But learning about your skills, your leads’ problems, and how to sell your skills to them will.

As a freelancer, your job is to drive traffic to your service and then convert this traffic into paying customers. In my example: content marketing helps me get traffic, sales is what converts this traffic into clients.

That’s why I encourage you to give sales a try. Learn the basic principles of sales, and start applying them to your business. Start refining your cold emails. You will be amazed by the incredible results you will get.


Created by

Charles Tumiotto Jackson

Content Marketer, willing to put the “social” back in Social Media. Forget about “Hacks” and obscure secrets to grow on social media →







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