What do you do when you get a call from a client asking you to do a project you’ve never done before? If the project sounds interesting, say, “Yes!”
Don’t let fear stop you from what could be a great learning experience, a well-paying assignment, and perhaps even your first step toward becoming an expert in that particular project type.
Sometimes a client will draw their own conclusion about your abilities based on your track record with them, or based on your body of work in other areas.
In that case, you may be offered the project without being grilled about your specific experience in this new area.
Sometimes a Client Will Hand It to You
This happened to my colleague Bob Bly, a veteran freelance copywriter, early in his career. He once told me of a time when he was sitting in the board offices of a bank in New York City, having been asked to go there to discuss a potential project.
The meeting began with the managers from the bank throwing around financial jargon that Bob had never heard of. This didn’t let up, and Bob spent most of the meeting nodding his head but not knowing what on earth these bankers were talking about.
At some point in the meeting, it occurred to Bob that he was going to be handed this copywriting project! He accepted it, and as soon as the meeting ended, Bob walked (or maybe he ran) to the nearest bookstore and found a financial glossary book.
Every term used in that meeting was defined in the book. Bob completed the assignment and has since become an expert in writing for the financial industry.
Sometimes You’ll Need to Win the Client Over
But what happens when a client asks you point blank whether or not you have experience in a certain area? In this case, smiling and saying, “No, but I’m willing to try!” will hardly persuade the client into believing that giving you the work would be a risk-free move.
Instead you must convince the client of your ability to complete the project, giving them good reasons why they should trust this job to you.
I found myself in this scenario when a client asked me about writing case studies. The client began by asking, “We need to produce some case studies. Have you written any before?” I hadn’t, but I really wanted the project form this major corporation.
I began, of course, by being honest with the client, saying I had never written a case study. And then I immediately launched into all the reasons why this didn’t matter.
I told the clients about similar work that I had written (newsletter articles, white papers, press releases) and pointed out that the process for writing these materials is exactly the same as that of writing a case study.
By explaining my process and linking to other work in my past that required the same skill set, I made it easier for the client to trust me with this new project.