When you travel you find yourself far from home (hopefully) in an exciting place where you can be out of your element. At your destination, do you stop for a moment and revel in everything that brought you there? The time you spent packing, the plane ride, the time you spent finding a flight, even further back—the work you did to earn the money for the trip in the first place. Each step is a link in a larger chain.
I stopped at the post office and picked up a handful of checks over the weekend. My invoices are sent on the final Friday of every month, so the first two weeks of the month are a financial waiting game—hoping everyone pays on time. It’s especially important this month since quarterly tax payments are due to the IRS next week! When I got home I entered each check into QuickBooks. Then I used my new handy dandy stamp from Vista Print to stamp my freelance writing account number on the back of each check. (I LOVE this stamp! I have been meaning to get one for years and it saves me so much time now that I don’t have to write out the entire number on every check.) As I stamped away I thought about all the work I did last month that earned this money. Then I thought about each client.
Where did they come from?
Right now I have several fairly regular clients, plus a handful of sporadic ones, plus one-time projects that surface here-and-there, and magazine features every so often. As examples, here are four of the regulars, how long we’ve been doing business together, and how we found each other; in no particular order:
Client: Injury Attorney
Doing business for: 18 months
Client: Commercial real estate broker
Doing business for: 2.5 years
Source: My former employer referred them to me.
Doing business for: 8 months
Source: Marketing professional I “met” through a dating site last year. I have never met the marketing consultant or the dentist in person.
Client: Soundproofing company
Doing business for: 3.5 years
Source: Craigslist. I have never met them in person.
Client: Estate law firm
Doing business for: 4 months
Source: I called them directly.
Over the past four years I have had other traditional and some unconventional ways of acquiring clients. Writing conferences, cold calls, colleague referrals – those are all standard ways clients are cultivated. Besides the non-traditional business connection I made through a dating site as noted above, others liked my poetry at an open mic, and one time I bumped into someone while hiking who referred me business. Brings a whole new meaning to “a walk in the woods.”