Freelancing: Declaring Independence

One benefit of freelancing is that you’re suddenly part of a large and growing entrepreneurial group. Last year I registered my freelance law practice at the Freelancers Union, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of all independent workers, not just freelance attorneys. I’ve found the Union’s tips translate well into freelance law practice. This week’s example, by business coach Justine Clay, is a post called The Secret to Nailing Your Marketing Message.

“Message” is marketing-speak for your pitch, your elevator speech, the short description of your practice that communicates what you do in a way that sets you apart from others. Because freelance lawyering is a new niche, people are always asking me, “what exactly do you do?” And so I get hundreds of opportunities to refine my message, but usually without any feedback on what potential clients actually care about.

Can I do better? Here’s Clay’s advice: this summer, reach out to a handful of your very best clients. Ask them to help you sharpen your message by chatting with you for 20 minutes. When you meet (or call), ask why they came to you, why they’ve stayed with you, what effect working with you has had on them, and what they need that you don’t offer (yet). Try a live, real-time chat rather than an email questionnaire, because you want spontaneous feedback.

Listening to your clients? What a concept!

I’ve never sought out this kind of feedback before, mainly because I’ve worried that my clients are too busy. Clay assures me people are more receptive to this approach than I might think. So this summer, I’m going to ask for—and listen to—client feedback. Because we’re independent, but not alone.

Have any of you interviewed your clients? What did you learn?

Karin has been a litigator at Debevoise & Plimpton; a law clerk to three Minnesota federal judges; a legal writing teacher at NYU Law, William Mitchell College of Law, and the University of Minnesota Law School; and a sole practitioner and freelancer in Minnesota… MFAN Bio | Email | Web | LinkedIn | Google Plus | MFAN Posts

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