How to Identify Profitable Clients: A Step-by-Step Guide

One of the most important features of online work is to learn how to recognize profitable clients who make their due payments on time.

The good news for novice webpreneurs is that you can’t hide anything on the Internet. Therefore, you can use various business parameters and online rating systems to find reliable and honest clients.

This article will provide you with 6 major steps for identifying the clients that you can work with in an organized and professional way.

Set your own goals and priorities

There’s no successful collaboration with clients before you determine your own goals and identify your skills. This process should consist of the following actions:

  • Conduct market research – Check the incomes in your niche on various websites. That way, you’ll know what rates you should set for your work. For instance, if you search for the payment data about web designers on Indeed.com, you’ll see that the average annual salary for this profession in the USA is about $61,400. Hence, perform the same action for your own profession. Also, visit the websites such as Upwork or PeoplePerHour, to see how much money the freelancers working in your niche charge there.
  • Evaluate your previous projects – Analyze all the projects you’ve finished in the last year or so. Write down all the clients, the project names and the rates you’ve charged. After that, calculate the average hourly payment you’ve received in that period, as well as the average project income. Compare that number with the rates you come across on the aforementioned online freelancer platforms.
  • Collect your certificates – When the time comes to present your work to new clients, it’s vital to be able to prove your skills. This is where your certificates come on stage. You can prepare a folder with all the relevant diplomas in the PDF-form (scan the printed ones), or even better – create a portfolio website. That way, every new client can access and assess your qualifications in no time, giving you a chance to show them your practical skills.

Now that you’ve assessed your previous work and set your professional agenda, you can proudly make an appointment with any client that contacts you.

Learn how to “read” job offers

Since every second spent looking for a profitable client is precious, you need to do your homework and learn how to successfully tell good job offers from the bad ones.

For starters, you need to analyze the language of the job ad. If the offer is too short or generic, it means that anyone could fill that position.

While this may be an acceptable solution for a business beginner, a more experienced freelancer should aim at more nuanced offers.

Therefore, pay attention to detailed ads that contain specific skills and work requirements.

That way, a job ad for a web designer that includes using the Adobe package, CSS and HTML will tell you that they’re looking for a worker with the in-depth knowledge.

As opposed to that, an ad demanding only some general Photoshop skills shouldn’t be taken into consideration.

Once more, the most popular freelancer platforms offer their users dozens of different parameters to find the right clients. In line with that, you can adjust them to your preferences.

Among many others, it’s possible to check how many projects your potential client has completed, together with the amount of money they’ve paid for their projects. What’s more, some clients reveal their average hourly rates, as well.

More importantly, make sure that you collaborate only with payment-verified clients.

As you can see, you can find out a lot from every job offer if you look for the right information.

Follow clients on social media

It goes without saying that you can learn a lot about both regular people and entrepreneurs from social media.

However, it’s essential for the future of your online business effort not to scatter your energy and time on too many simultaneous client-targeting actions.

Therefore, try to leave Facebook aside for a moment and focus on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If we know that there were about 467 million LinkedIn users at the end of 2016, it’s obvious that this social network is hiding numerous job opportunities. Not only that potential clients can get in touch with you via that medium, but it works the other way around – you can reach out to various companies and offer your services.

As a matter of fact, mere connecting with various business entities on LinkedIn is already a promising start.

Twitter, on the other hand, is more of a live platform, where you can learn more about your present and potential clients in real time. That way, tweets can provide you with some invaluable information about various current business affairs, so that you know whether or not you should enter that arena in the first place.

Check your client’s financial condition

When you’re looking for reliable clients, it’s imperative to check their financial condition.

Otherwise, you might complete a project for a business entity that doesn’t have enough assets to pay you for the work in question.

So, here are three main steps in which you can collect valuable data about your client:

  • Checking if the company exists – The first thing you should do is visit the website of that company and see if they have a physical address. Many countries offer special databases where you can search companies on the basis of their addresses. The lack of physical address could be the omen that such a client could have scarce assets, as well.
  • Inspecting the legal status – Every country has their own special database of registered businesses. You should type the name of the company you’re planning to collaborate within that database and see if they’re a registered business. Also, in the USA you can visit the Better Business Bureau search engine and find out if there have been any complaints about that business or any legal actions has been taken against it.
  • Making a domain check – Every domain name has to be permitted and registered by the Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). What you can do to check owner(s) of the company’s website really is to search the ICANN database. If this comprehensive tool doesn’t show any results, you might have come across an unreliable client, so just give it a miss.
  • Following feedback of former clients – The online word-of-mouth method, i.e. forums and comment sections can also be extremely helpful in identifying reliable clients. Therefore, take some time to read more about other people’s previous experiences with that particular business. Although each and every feedback should be taken with a grain of salt, they’ll undoubtedly assist you in getting the whole picture about that client.

Also, make sure to limit this research time, because otherwise you could easily get carried away and lose a lot of time.

Find out how they make money

When you start working for a client, you might not be interested in their other business matters.

However, if you’re looking for a long-term collaboration, you should find out how your client or employer makes assets to pay you for your work.

This finding will dictate the deal you make with that entity. For instance, if they run an online store, it’s a promising situation, since e-commerce is a growing field of business. As a result, you can make plans for a more serious and durable business agreement.

Apart from that, visit their website and find the list of their clients.

For example, if they work with the local or even international brands, there’s nothing to worry about in terms of payment. Such clients are reliable partners and profitable business entities that will pay you on time. Just imagine how much damage bad publicity could bring them.

For all those reasons, do your best to establish cooperation with such business ventures.

Moreover, make additional research to see if they use paid Google ads or sponsored posts on Facebook.

If the answer is affirmative, it will be firm proof that they have a clever marketing strategy, which is another sign of a well-managed business and another reason to start working with them at once.

Protect yourself in advance

Although you’ve collected all these data about your client and concluded that they’re worth your time and knowledge, you shouldn’t take anything for granted.

Even if you have the most honest client in the world, you can never tell if tomorrow they’ll end up in financial dire straits. Therefore, it’s crucial to protect yourself in advance.

This self-protection strategy will have the following features:

  • Ask for down payments – This should be the rule of thumb for every deal you make. It can be the symbolic 10% of the total amount of money, but it will serve as evidence that the client has made a deal with you. What’s more, such an incentive will inspire both parties to commence that collaboration in good faith. Also, prepare all the payment details, such as client-friendly invoices and payment methods in advance, so that the client can transfer money to your account without any problems.
  • Define the number of changes – Web designers and architects know very well what it looks like to be asked to change a website or a draft dozens of times. In order to restrict such behavior, it’s crucial that you limit the number of changes your client can make at the agreed price. Moreover, define how much every additional change is going to cost them. By doing so, you’ll limit the duration of the project and make sure that you get paid on time.
  • Break down the project into chunks – Smaller portions of work, also known as milestones, will contribute to better understanding between you and your client. Also, it will ensure that your client pays you when they have enough assets so that they remain as reliable as it gets. For instance, you can even suggest that they choose the milestone dates. That way, they can plan it in accordance with their payment schedule. As a result, you’ll finish that part of the project until the agreed date and they’ll pay you on that very date – a win-win pattern for a long-term collaboration.

In line with that, it’s important to learn more about project management before you turn to this type of task organization. You can find out more about it in the post published on the Balance.com.

Conclusion

As we all know, it takes two to tango. Translated to the realm of the online business, it means that both freelancers and their clients have to determine what they want from their businesses.

Only when you’ve made up your mind should you start communicating with your potential clients.

While doing so, it’s vital not to waste time on untrustworthy clients.

If you apply the strategies explained in this article, you’ll reduce the amount of time spent on wrong clients and improve your overall business efficiency. So, try these actions and pursue a successful online business career.

Mark Thomasson
Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus - a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.
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