#317: Landing Marquee Clients

A coaching client recently asked me about how to start pursuing and landing well-known clients, such as Fortune 500 companies and big organizations, to enhance their client roster and portfolio. What intrigued me the most about her question was not the intention, but her assumptions about what it would take. She specifically asked about what skills training she would need to qualify for these big clients, or in other words, what knowledge or skillset would make her worthy of even approaching these organizations. It’s important to note that this client is not a newbie and is fairly established. So, I summarized my advice to her as follows:

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts.

First, she doesn’t need more skills training. While it’s possible that she might need additional skills, it’s highly likely that it’s not the only thing missing. What’s truly missing are two things:

  1. Giving herself permission to go after these clients without seeking external validation. She doesn’t need permission from anyone else, such as a certification board or any other group, to pursue the clients she wants.
  2. Developing a strategy that stretches her current confidence level and moves her in the direction she wants to go.

Let me elaborate on these points. The first one is straightforward. She doesn’t need external permission to pursue big clients. She can go after them whenever she wants, and she may already be qualified to do so, even if she feels less experienced, less skilled, or less qualified compared to others who are pursuing these clients. In fact, many less qualified writers still go after bigger clients and sometimes even land them.

Women, in particular, often struggle with this due to a tendency to feel like they need to check all the boxes before pursuing something. On the other hand, men are more likely to pursue big opportunities even if they only meet some of the requirements. I’m not getting into the science or theories behind this, and I want to emphasize that I’m not saying men are better than women. This is just sharing the evidence. Being aware of this tendency is the first step towards making a change. So, women should understand that hesitation is normal but should still move forward in pursuing their goals.

Now, let’s talk about the second point, which is using her current confidence level to work towards a better place. Experience, ability, skill, and confidence are all relative. I explained this using the analogy of a staircase with different steps representing different levels of business and confidence. If she’s currently on step five out of ten, representing her current confidence level, and she aspires to land clients at the nine and ten level, she might feel terrified and unready. In that case, she can start by working with her current level of confidence to pursue clients at the six and seven level, which are a bit outside her comfort zone but not too far from where she currently is. Once she lands a few clients at that level, it becomes her new baseline or new normal. She can then push herself to go after clients at the eight and nine level, which are further outside her comfort zone but not impossible to achieve. With time and effort, she will soon find herself at a level where pursuing clients at the ten level feels achievable and within her reach.

Lastly, I emphasized that wherever she is on the staircase, there are people below looking up to her, admiring her, and wondering how they can reach her level. What may not seem like a big deal to her is a significant accomplishment for someone else, just as it was for her at some point. It’s all relative, and her current position is proof of her capability to achieve even more. Onward.


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