As a creative, you might describe your workload as a rollercoaster: a ride of highs and lows, of profits and dry spells, an unpredictable grind. But while a rollercoaster ride is exciting at an amusement park, it is much less enjoyable when it comes to your business model. The last thing I want is for you to feel overwhelmed by an incessant flow of projects without time to manage them all. However, having a project pipeline puts you squarely in charge of the projects and the clients that you’re working with and the timeline that you’re working with them on. It helps you know exactly when and where your next project is coming from and it puts you in control of your business and the time that you spend on each client.
The Benefits of a Paid VIP Waitlist
If you’ve ever found yourself taking on more clients than you are comfortable handling at one time for fear of missing out on project opportunities, a paid VIP waitlist is the solution that you’ve been looking for. With a paid VIP waitlist, you can tell your potential clients a specific time frame that you will be able to work with them, start the ball rolling on their project proposals, and get a non-refundable deposit on their services ahead of time.
This saves you from having to turn clients away because you don’t have the capacity for their projects at the moment. They hold their place in your queue through their deposit, and you get the benefit of knowing where and when your next project is coming as you wrap up current projects and clients.
If you’re concerned about a client’s willingness to wait for your timeframe, don’t be. Design is a short term investment with a very long term ROI (return on investment.) Remember the transformations you deliver are enjoyed by your client for 10-20 years, far longer than most keep their car or other assets. They’re willing to wait because you have done a scope of work for them and you have shown them what to expect from you in their project and how you will meet their needs.
Connect, Connect, Connect
The best part of generating a project pipeline is learning all of the ways that you can control the types of clients and projects you take on. With a pipeline, you’re not worrying about waiting for word of mouth. You are actively seeking leads and courting clients. Through building relationships and learning the markets that you need to be in, you can craft your workload to just what maximizes profit and brings you joy in your work.
There are several ways to generate leads for projects but the biggest component is connecting with your clients and those in the markets you are most interested in. Leverage landscape signage, like architects, builders and contractors all do, so that prospects can reach out with ease. Send a personalized welcome note to recent home buyers (zillow and realtor.com are great sources) of properties you’d like to be working on. Joining an upscale gym or hiring a personal trainer can get you introductions to ideal clients; partnering with other local businesses who serve your ideal client, but aren’t competitors, can create opportunities to meet your ideal clients.
But remember, all the follow-ups are on you. Don’t pass out your business card thinking they’re going to be the ones calling you. You need to initiate the conversation, facilitate the relationship, and be the driving force that makes your client think twice about what you can offer. This is not passive work. You have to make it all about them until they find out that you can genuinely be of service. Ditch the pitch, skip the sell, and make it about connection, engagement, and building a relationship that will then deliver revenue.
When you’re ready to take your design practice to the next level, explore your expert coaching and training options with Melissa Galt. To catch the entire podcast episode LISTEN HERE.