How PROACTIVE Are You? A 10-Point Checklist

A guest post from Mark Armstrong

Oh, sure. There are some famous superstar freelancers out there. They  don’t have to worry about where their next client is coming from — people are beating down their doors. Then there are the rest of us.

We have two choices:

1) Wait for a miracle that causes a client to beat on our door. Or…

2) Be proactive, build relationships, and make our own luck.   I like to think the second option is the better choice.

Have you made the choice to be proactive?

Here’s a 10-point checklist to help you answer that question.


1. You demonstrate your expertise.

You write blog posts which show how you solved a problem. On your own blog, on LinkedIn, or via guest posts on reputable sites.

2. You ask for recommendations and referrals.

Happy clients are happy to recommend you to others. But you need to ask them to do this.

3. You research prospects before you approach them.

How can you suggest ways you might help someone if you’re really not sure what they do? You can’t. You risk looking foolish. Visit their website. Do your homework.

4. You personalize your communication.

Nobody likes a canned pitch, a one-size-fits-all approach. They stick out like a sore thumb and tell people you’re lazy. Make it warm. Make it personal. It only takes a line or two.

5. You do work that gets noticed and talked about.

This might be called having a proactive attitude. It’s not just another assignment; rather, it’s a chance to create something memorable and add something brilliant to your portfolio.

6. You network via LinkedIn and other social media.

LinkedIn is recognized as the network for business professionals. You’re on it, with a nice photo, and a complete profile. You use Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. to boost your visibility.

7. You ask clients: What comes next?

You don’t just hand off a finished product or service. You try to anticipate needed maintenance, updates, troubleshooting, etc. You show the client you care about their future success.

8. You follow up at intervals with both clients and prospects.

You ask how things are going if they’ve run into unexpected problems. You follow up on queries, reminding prospects of your interest. You demonstrate professionalism, and stay “top of mind.”

9. You respond promptly to queries, invitations, and opportunities.

Doing this sends so many good signals: you’re organized, on top of things, professional, courteous, you respect others and you don’t keep them waiting. These things definitely create lasting impressions.

10. You say thank you.

Gratitude signals an abundance mentality. You don’t hoard your good fortune, you celebrate it.

Bottom line: You could be the best illustrator in the world — but no one’s going to call you if they never hear from you. Make sure you’re one of the first people they think of. Reach out. Be proactive. In what ways are you being proactive? Or what issues did you have in the past that have been resolved by being proactive? We would love to hear from you.

Author Bio:

Mark Armstrong has been a commercial illustrator for over 20 years. He’s a Photoshop expert specializing in humor, marketing, communication, editorial, and social media. He believes there’s a visual component to every communications problem. His goal for every assignment: illustration that gets attention, makes a point, and sends the right message. Mark lives in New Hampshire, USA. You can follow him on Twitter @mrstrongarm, and connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Mark Armstrong Illustration. You can view his portfolio in slideshow format.