Getting Clients—The 5 X 5 Plan to Get Focused, Reach More Clients & Stay Sane | Ronnie Walter | Skillshare

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Getting Clients—The 5 X 5 Plan to Get Focused, Reach More Clients & Stay Sane

teacher avatar Ronnie Walter, Artist, Writer, Artist's Life Coach

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Getting Clients: Introduction


    • 2.

      Why Have a Plan?


    • 3.

      How the Plan Works


    • 4.

      Identify Your Dream Clients


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Pulling it all Together


    • 7.

      Seeing Results


    • 8.

      Getting Clients: Final Thoughts & Extra Tips


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About This Class

Does it feel like it’s all too much? Start a side gig. Grow your freelance biz. Learn about the market. Get yourself licensed on a jillion products. Promote your work. Sometimes it seems like the to-do list is endless…and finding new clients feels like the biggest hill to climb.

Hey, I get it.

I’m Ronnie Walter, an artist, writer and a Biz Coach for Creatives. And I know firsthand how easy it is to get overwhelmed when trying to run a creative business, especially when all we really want to do are the fun parts! Oh, wouldn’t that be nice…

We all need to add more clients. In this class I will explain, in step-by-step detail, a simple process for locating and converting clients that is systematic, progressive, and repeatable. It will help you focus your prospecting efforts and eliminate that nagging feeling that you haven’t done enough.

I call it the 5 X 5 Plan. It’s simple once you get the hang of it—and best of all—it works.

Decades of freelancing taught me that you must keep feeding your customer pipeline to be successful, and to do that you need a workable, repeatable system. You cannot reinvent the wheel every time you want to contact a new client. I developed the 5x5 process, refined it through coaching and teaching dozens of artists, and share it with you in this class. It’s the exact method I use to keep moving my creative business forward!

I invite you to take this short class to learn about the simple but effective plan you will return to again and again.

Thank you so much and if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments so I can help you!


Meet Your Teacher

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Ronnie Walter

Artist, Writer, Artist's Life Coach


Hi! I'm Ronnie Walter. I'm an artist, author and coach for creatives. I license my work on all kinds of cool products like greeting cards, fabric, giftware, books, plus 17 (and counting) coloring books for adults.

I am frequently caffeinated.

I love what I do and I particularly love teaching and coaching artists to help them move further on their journey no matter where they are! My goal is to help you calm the overwhelm feelings that are bound to come up when you are building your business, discover your unique gifts, and make a game plan where you can actually see progress! I can't wait to add more classes so you can do just that!

And I have a simple guide to Art Licensing you may find helpful as an addition to the information in some of my classes. You can learn ... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Getting Clients: Introduction: Do you ever feel like you're never gonna get a new client or you worked so hard on launching your business and you don't feel like it's even off the ground. But I know you. Your portfolio is ready. You're raring to go. But when it comes to reaching out to people that can help you, you freeze your fingers, freeze over the keyboard when you're writing an email or you eventually send out an email and all you hear back or crickets. I understand because I've been there. Hi, I'm Ronnie Walter. I'm a licensed artist and author, a teacher and also a business coach for creatives in this class, I'm gonna walk you through a plan that I devised for my coaching clients because, like you, many of my clients feel overwhelmed with all of the things that they feel they need to do in order to move their business forward. And there are a lot of things a person has to do in order to do this. Which is why I wanted to devise a really simple plan for you to reach out to potential clients. I want you to get clients. I call it the five by five plan, which is gonna make more sense once you see what how the plan works. And in the next few lessons, we're going to go into some details lots of details on how it will work for you. And I just want you to know that this is a plan that IHS systematic meaning. It's kind of a no brainer. Once you understand it, it's progressive. It will move you forward and it's repeatable. So no matter where you are in your business, no matter where you want to go in your business, you can utilize the five by five plan to help you get there. So let's get started, shall we? 2. Why Have a Plan?: So why even have a plan? Well, I've discovered between my own illustration career representing artists and now in my coaching practice that artists fall into a trap of thinking that they have to do everything all at once in order to see any progress. And researching and contacting clients is the hardest part of the whole thing. But when you have a plan, we can move that forward and a much more logical, calm fashion. And why do you have a plan? Well, what you're doing now probably isn't working or you wouldn't be taken this class. So yea, and hate. Thanks for being here. Maybe you need an influx of cash and you really need to get very focused on one thing. And you can move that forward and maybe make a little money on the other side of it. Another reason to have a plan is your tired of spinning your wheels. You want a new way to look at things and a new way to refresh your work. Maybe you want to open up new markets for your work, and then you're not exactly sure how to go forward with that. And you want to meet new people in your industry, and you want a system you couldn't go back to again and again. And when you have a nice, clear system that makes it a lot easier to dio. But having a plan, you could limit your scope to the people you really want to work with the kind of categories you want to work in and that can really maximize your growth by focusing on the right people. So what happens when you don't have a plan? Well, we know what happens. You get overwhelmed, you second guess every move. And instead of reaching out to all these potential clients, you go back to the studio and draw another picture. You might even binge watch Netflix while elbow deep in a box of cheese. It's or worse yet you shut down and quit altogether, and we do not want that to happen, and the world needs your work so we don't want your shutting down and quitting. But what if you build a framework around this huge and seemingly endless task? What if, instead of trying to reach out to hundreds of names, you had a curated list of potential partners that could be easily access time after time? How cool would that be? 3. How the Plan Works: Welcome back. OK, now I'm going to tell you how this five by five plan works. We're gonna go through it step by step. At first, you're gonna find it a little confusing, But stay with me. It's actually really simple. Here's your step one. You're going to choose five categories or markets where you think your work fits best right now. And I mean right now, not sometime in the future. Non things that you've always dreamed about doing. But right now, because I want you to get maximum results. There's always going to be time as you work the system to add in the things that you are aspiring to right now but aren't quite ready for as I go through it, explain this. I want you to get really serious about the categories you want to go after. Right now, I've designed the five by five plan to really work. No matter what discipline you are in as a creative business owner in these examples that I'm going to show you these air just ideas. These are examples of the categories or markets that you might be wanting to go into, depending on your discipline. The categories might be different for you, but I'm just giving you an example, depending on what your discipline is, how you might identify five different categories or markets you might choose. So, for instance, let's just go through illustrators and I'm talking about more on the editorial side of illustration. Maybe your five categories are Children's books. Book covers magazines at agencies and websites. You think your work right now fits for any one of these five things. That might be true. It might not be true, but you'll find out when you work this plan. If you're a surface designer, maybe you're five categories are bolt fabric, apparel, fabric, stationary scrap of papers and gift wrap. Those were all categories that would be looking for surface design patterns, and those might be your top five categories of opportunities for you. If you're in art licensing, you're five categories. Could be another's a lot of categories It could be, but I'm just using these as an example. Garden flags, stationary, maybe paper table where giftware and wall art say you're a graphic designer. Your categories might be Web design, collateral work, book design, display graphics for trade shows and things like that, or maybe ad agencies. If you're a fine artist, your five categories might be galleries in different cities. Interior designers You wanna work with juried exhibitions, art fairs and festivals, and maybe local venues to show your work. So that's the first part of the five by five plan identifying your five categories, depending on what kind of an artist you are. So you'll want to sit down and really think about that. Think about the five places that are the most likely categories are markets for your work. Just five. You may come up with more than that, but if you come up with more than five, I want you to edit them down to the five most likely places, and you'll see why when we moved to the second part of the five by five plan. 4. Identify Your Dream Clients: Okay, Now we're going to get into the second part of the five by five plan, and this is where you're going to identify your dream clients. So run to step two. Step one was identifying Your five categories are markets. Step two is you're going to identify five companies within those categories or markets that you would most like toe work with. Again, We're going for maximum success here. Some of these might be stretched clients, but I want you to be successful. So we want to stay with the companies that you think I have a pretty good shot with those folks. So you want to pick companies at this stage of people that you have a pretty good shot with ? And then Step Three is you're going to identify the key decision maker in each of these companies. So you have five categories or markets and five companies with their decision makers names , which gives you 25 names of people that you could potentially reach out to not potentially reach onto. You're going to reach out to them. So this is the hard part. I'm just gonna say this does not come easily. This identifying these companies and identifying the key decision makers. It's going to take some research on your part and is going to take just some old fashioned detective work to find the names of key decision makers at these companies. But it's not impossible, and I have ideas for you. So here are some search options off. Once you have identified these companies, which again is going to take some research on your part to identify these five The five companies that you want to work with and remember some of them might be people that you have worked with in the past, and you just haven't had any contact with them for a while, or they might be people that you have reached out to before and nothing happened with. But just because you didn't connect before doesn't mean you won't this time. I mean, you do have new work to show them right. You don't have to overthink this so back to your search options. So there are all kinds of ways to start finding people's names and finding out who the decision maker is in the company. For instance, company websites, some of them have a directory of who's who and some of them linked to their email address you can use linked in. You can use social media. Sometimes people are on Twitter or on instagram. Something like that. Start looking for them and identifying names sometimes trade magazines, depending on where you are, particularly on the illustration like Children's book illustrations. People are interviewed all the time. Agents and editors air. I interviewed a lot, so you want to make sure that you are looking at your trade magazines, depending on what genre you are in you. Also, there's some. If you're in licensing, you want to check out the art licensing show that connects a lot of our directors as well as trade shows. Trade show directories can be a gold mine of turning over who's who in in a company. You can also Google product categories. If you are going in the licensing you might want and you want your work on coffee mugs, you would want to Google coffee mugs and then add the word wholesale to them, and you'll start to see who might make coffee mugs on a wholesale basis. Retail websites You never know what you're going to turn up on there they could have an employee feature something like that. You could even this is a crazy idea. You can call the company and say, Hey, who's your creative director or director or something? You know, whatever title you are looking for, call them up. Sometimes they'll tell you again, your former and current clients. They are really gold mines of people that you, if you have a good relationship with them in the past, they will want to hear from you again, and it's OK that you haven't contacted them. That's what happens. So just put them on your list. If you think that there are a great potential for you and also just generally networking at conferences at shows, you might go to events in your industry, just making sure that you are a person that people like and get to know on a different level than trying to sell to them. So all of these things can build the or five by five plan. Another tricky part of doing this research is that people have all kinds of different job titles, so I have just listed some off the top of my head of job titles that you might be looking for because you might think you are looking for an art director. But their actual title is licensing manager or, uh, acquisition manager. Something like that. So you want to make sure that you are looking for a lot of different job titles so that you're not stuck in well, they must be a creative director when they're actually ah, marketing manager that who also buys the art. These are some job titles that you should be looking for. There are many others, trust me, because everybody comes up with kind of funky job titles these days. So these are just some of the decision makers job titles that you will see art director, creative director, design manager, design director, vice president of design. You get the combo platter of South. Some of these words were put together these titles so licensing manager, marketing manager, product development director, a gallery manager, the acquisitions manager, editor. Sometimes, sales and marketing people make these decisions, and very often is the owner of the company. Part of your detective work is to figure out what kind of jump titles you're looking for. So let's review what we've done so far is step one. You have chosen your five categories or markets where you think your work fits best. Right now, let's step one really do some brainstorming on that to really think about what are the most likely places that you could get. Work right now Step two for each of your five categories that you've come up with. I want you to research and identify five companies, venues, publishers, whatever that looks like to you. Whatever these companies are that you want to work with within those five categories and then step three is you're going to identify the key decision maker at each company as you do that you are pulling together your five by five plan. You're coming up with 25 names of people that you can potentially work with. And I'm going to show you what that looks like on a visual level in the next lesson. So I'll see you over there 5. Demonstration: Okay, so here's what the five by five plan looks like when you start pulling it all together. Now, let me just say one thing. Sometimes it's really hard to get five names, but I want you to get close. The reason I picked five by five is that 25 names is a perfectly reasonable amount of people to be keeping in touch with or reaching out to at any given moment. When you start to get beyond that 25 it gets very overwhelming. It's hard to keep track. It's hard to stay focused. That's where the overwhelmed comes in, and that's where people start giving up. So this is when you keep it at 25. This is a really manageable place to be, and you have picked your categories based on the most likely places you're going to get work. You have picked your five people for each one of those categories, based on the fact that you think you're right for those companies. So it's a very curated list. It's a very clean, tidy list. It makes it very easy for you to keep track of these people, so you have a choice. You can make your own grid and just do it on a piece of paper, which is perfectly fine. It all works. Or you can set up on Excel spreadsheet for yourself so that you can also keep track of when you have contacted them when you have done your follow up, which will go into in a the next lesson. But you need to have some sort of way to keep track of your five by five plan. So this is just a example off. I've used the example of a licensed artist. They've picked these five categories. They're the ones that I used in the earlier lesson. This person is starting to work through their five by five plan that this is this imaginary artist just made her up under garden flags. So far, they have gotten three people's names. They're going to keep working to get those other two stationary. That was easier for them, and plus these are all made up email, So don't think you could email these people cause I made them all up. And so for each of these categories, they're working to get the five boxes for each category filled out, so they have their 25 25 is not a magic number. I just want to keep something in control for yourself so that you can keep this moving forward and and make it manageable for yourself. So that is the goal to have 25 at any given moment. If you don't have your 25 it doesn't stop you from reaching out to these people, and we will go over that in the next lesson. 6. Pulling it all Together: All right, now we're going to start pulling it all together. This is where your five by five plan is just going to serve you really, really well. You are going to now start taking action. And the beauty of the five by five plan is that you have developed a system that is progressive, systematic and repeatable, meaning that as you progress through your five by five plan, you're gonna move forward. You're going to get yourself in front of people that you have been wanting to get in front , off its systematic. You don't have to think about it. It's kind of a no brainer. Once you get those 25 names plugged in, it's really easy. It is repeatable. It can repeat for the rest of your career if you want it. Teoh, by selecting your potential partner systematically, you will learn more about them and have a better idea about what they do and what kind of customers they have. Our goal is not just to attract clients, but to attract the right clients for your work. Doesn't this make it so much easier to reach out to them? And here's another tip. I'm suggesting that you contact people who seem like a fairly likely fit for you because I want you to succeed. But the one thing we don't know about them is what are they planning in the future? And they could very well be looking for you. So if you have someone on your list that you feel pretty good about but they're not perfect , keep them there anyway. And you'll find out when you contact them, whether or not the two of you are a good fit. So here's the next step. Since you have spent so much time researching the companies and decision makers, you probably have a pretty good idea of who they are, what they do, what kind of work they typically use or publish. And sometimes you're gonna knock them off your list. Sometimes in that research you're going to think, and I don't think these are the right people for me. So then you're gonna add someone else to the list. But again, you're going to keep it at the five by five. And because you have done all that research, the next step is going to be a lot easier than it would have been before. you started your five by five plan toe. Let's look into that more closely. So Step four of this process is you are going to develop a concise presentation. It showcases who you are, what you do and why you do it, tailored to the categories and decision makers on your list. So depending on your discipline, your presentation might look different from another one. But what you want to make sure is that you are presenting yourself so that they can have a very easy snapshot of who you are, what you do and why you do what you do that will probably take the form of a small PdF or a series of J pegs or whatever that might look like that is specific to your discipline. But you're going to develop a presentation that showcases that. Then you're going to send your presentation alone with a short, compelling and personalized email to the 25 names on your list. This is the whole thing. This is the 25 e mails, and because we're only doing 25 you can target those e mails very easily to that person because you know so much more about their company. You know a little bit about them. So you're going to write a really simple email introducing yourself, introducing your work with that presentation attached, or how it may happen in the body of your email. You may link them. Instead of having a presentation that's attached to the email, you might link them to a private website page. I don't know what that's gonna look like for you. All I know is you need to put together this concise presentation and a short, compelling and personalized email to the 25 names on your list. With this process, you're hand selecting these potential clients and placing your curated work in front of them. You are no longer sending your work in a scattershot G. I hope they pick me method, but you're not finished yet. 7. Seeing Results: So let's assume you've sent out your 25 emails. Oh, and by the way, congratulations. And what happens now? Well, hopefully you have gotten a response to your emails. Here are some possible responses you may have gotten Okay. One would be nothing. Sometimes you're just not going to get a response to your email. We'll talk about that later. You might get a response that Thanks, Awesome. But it's not right for us. Cool. Maybe it's a thanks. Can you send us more work? We need more to evaluate you with, or Thanks. I love it, but not right now. But I'm going to keep you in mind for future project, and then maybe, can we jump on a phone call? They have something to discuss with you or the ultimate. Which is where do we send the contract, which is usually not the first thing you're going to hear, but you never know. And here's the thing. None of these responses is a completely closed door. This is not a one and done deal. Even if they say nothing to you, you're always going to send them a second inquiry. There's going to be another response and we'll go through those a little later, but any of these can be positive. It's on Lee and ending when they say, This is not right for us at all. Thank you so much. Don't contact us again. And you know, sometimes people say that, and I'd rather hear and know then a maybe, or to be strung along with, and I'm not sure. But even when they're saying I'm not sure, sometimes that turns into a deal. You are going to follow up, and how often you follow up will depend on your industry anywhere from a week to a month. Some industries take longer to make decisions. Graphic design might be faster than, say, book publishing, but you can follow up with a variety of e mails. And here's a few examples. Here's the example of your just checking back. You might say something like, Hello, Gloria, I sent you an email about my illustrations on June 14th. Just want to check and see if there's interest in my work or if you would like to see more . Thanks. This is not a time that you have to overthink everybody you're going to write to is a very busy person. Just give them a really quick opportunity to tell you yea or nay on your work. So that's just a quick checking back. And you should do that, you know, maybe once or twice. Here's another one. Offer them on opportunity to see more work. Maybe that's the problem. So you could say, Hey, Josh, I just sent you an email. I sent you an email about my illustrations on June 14th. Any feedback for me? Also, I just finished this new piece and thought you might like it and send something that you think. Oh, I think this is cool. I think Josh would like that. I'm going to send him another thing that may get Josh to respond or go further and say, Oh, this is super cool. Let's do a project with you and then the 1st 1 is just go for the ask, OK, this is an email you would send, you know, after you have followed up once or twice, with or without any response from this person, and you will just ask them. Hello, Angela. Just checking back for you and the designs have been sending you. I'd love to work with your company. I think my work was a good fit. If you don't agree, could you let me know? Thanks. I appreciate it. And the thing is, this it This lets them off the hook. If they say, Oh, my gosh, I just need to tell this person No, no, it's not gonna work for me. And here's what happens. They've told you that Cool again. Yes or no answers. That's what we're after. And the beauty of it is Angela has just told you, have Angela comes back and says, You know, this isn't right for us. This is your opportunity to take Angela off. You have now opened up a whole on your five by five plan because Angela just went away to put a new person on there. So that's a really great thing about these follow ups because you have this five by five plan. You're only doing this with 25 people. It's very easy to keep track of these 25 people. How many times did you get back to them? How many times did they get back to you? What is that process? And this is how the five by five plan becomes a repeatable system if a potential client has enthusiastically responded to your work and become an actual client, or they have told you in some way that there is no hope whether that looks like no response ever the flat out told you your work was not right for them without a but keep in touch message. Then they need to move off your list and you'll add new names to reach out to always keeping your list of roughly 25 names at any time. And that is what's so cool about it. If they move on to clients status, you have just opened up an opportunity to add someone to your five by five plan that is super cool. Or, for instance, you signed an exclusive licensing agreement for one of your product categories. Then you would take that entire category off your plan and add a new category. Keeping your category listed five at all times Say you've got an exclusive deal for garden flags. You're going to work with one company on garden flags, and that's all. You'll take that whole category off your five by five plan, leaving you an opportunity for a new category to put on there and say It's home decor pillows to put pillows on there. And then you're going to add your five potential clients per pillows. You're going to return to them just like you did when you had your original 25 names. So you will constantly have 25 names to work with or say you are working your five by five plan. You've sent out your initial 25 emails. You're starting to follow up. You're not getting any traction on, say, an entire category. So, like you're a graphic designer and you don't you're not making any traction in, say, Web design. You're thinking OK, apparently this is not my category. Then take that category off to take it off and add something else like T shirt design or another arena that you want to work in. Just take a category off. It's not that big of a deal. You know. There are no five by five cops out there, but always keeping your list of that 25 people. That is your goal. This is what I have done for a long time. This is what I teach people in my classes to to do with my coaching clients to do this, and it just keeps it very calm and not overwhelming. So in in the final video, I just want to wrap up a few things. A few more tips, and I hope that this system works for you as well. It's worked for other people. 8. Getting Clients: Final Thoughts & Extra Tips: So what did you think of that? Well, here's a few final thoughts to help you get started. Of course, following the fine by five plan is not a guarantee that you'll be successful, but it will get you a lot closer than where you are right now. You still have to do the work. You have to go through the motions of putting your five by five plan together. And, of course, there are nuances that happen with it. Sometimes people have multiple styles. Well, they might do a separate find by five plan for their different styles because that might be different audiences. You might have more than one skill. You're a graphic designer, but you're also an illustrator, and you're gonna have different clients, so you might do 25 by five plans, which is kind of a lot for you. Cycle them through for three months. You'll do. The graphic design for three months will do the illustration, but it is adaptable to each of those scenarios and just gets kinda have to tweak the system . But for the most part, by following a five by five plan, you can stay sane, which we're all thrilled about. You don't have to reinvent the wheel all the time, and you can stay focused on moving your work forward. I would also suggest that you put this into your time. Block that you. However, you block your time for the week, make sure you set aside some time to go. I'm going to work my five by five plan. Maybe it's every Wednesday morning or every Thursday night. However, you're going to do that. But put that into your rotation of things that you need to do to move your business forward Really important to do that. Now, in the project section of the class, I've added a spreadsheet that you can adapt for yourself and also just a simple grand. For those of you like me who like to write things on pieces of paper. Um, but that's gonna get you started. And here's what I would like to ask of. You try it for a month, see how that feels to you. Do you feel like you're making any progress? Do you feel like you are more focused and a little more contained in that area? That's what I want to know. And if you have any questions along the way. I know I gave you a lot of information. If you have any questions, just please write them in the comments. I will answer them as soon as I can. And that will help everyone to understand the system a little bit more. And I also want to thank you for taking this class. I really help. This helps you and I cannot wait to see your pride. Progress. I just can't wait to see your progress. So make sure you get back to me with how this worked for you or if you need any help tweaking it toe work for yourself. So thanks again and I'll see you the next class. Bye.