Youâ€™ve just scored a meeting with a prospect or new client. Now what? If you want to look like a savvy freelancer, schedule a live video chat.
If youâ€™re already feeling a little anxious, palms sweaty, nerves rattled, and scrambling to figure out which live video chat software you should use, take a chill pill.
A decade-plus ago, live video chat was basically reserved for the tech-savvy geek or entrepreneurial hipster. But these days, itâ€™s ubiquitous for business and everything else.
The global pandemic only amplified the number of live video chat services available to help you stay connected with family and friends.
But even better, it helped shine a light on software you can use as a freelancer to connect with prospects and clients face to face.
Even betterâ€¦live video chat makes it easier to build relationships, share screens, collaborate, and simplify working remotely.
Ready to get on a call? Check out these free live video chat services.
A few things to know about live video chat
Chances are pretty good you’ve been on a Zoom call or some kind of live video chat by now. COVID-19 lockdowns around the world put these services in the spotlight.
If you haven’t had a client meeting via live video chat yet, you’ve probably talked to your friends, your book club, or maybe your mom this way. Most live video chat services share a lot of similarities.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Create an account. You know the drill. Name, email address, and you’re in. It’s the cost of using the basic version of most live video chat software for free.
- Download software. Once you create an account, you’ll likely need to download software to run live video chat from your computer. In a pinch? You can run most live video chat meetings from a smartphone, too.
- Get tech tools. Unless you’re using a computer from the Stone Age (meaning it’s like 5-plus years old), most notebook/laptop computers are equipped with a compatible operating system, memory, microphone, and webcam to do live video chat. If you’re on a desktop, you may need a microphone and webcam.
- Test it out. Seriously, don’t wait until five minutes before a client meeting to try and figure out live video chat for the first time. Try it out first. Ask a friend to do a live video chat with you. Or connect with someone in the Freelance Writers Den and do a call. Test your microphone (maybe you need to talk louder). Test your webcam (and maybe move to a spot with better lighting.)
- Be flexible. The more prospects and clients you connect with, the more likely you’re going to end up using multiple live video chat platforms. Be flexible. There’s bound to be some temporary glitch, connection problem, or even user error. Don’t worry about it. Troubleshoot the problem and carry on.
Ready to connect with clients and prospects via live video chat?
Here are 10 free ways to connect. Most of these options also include paid versions. But for most freelancers, the free versions work great.
Bye, bye Google Hangouts. Google starting phasing out Hangouts in late 2019, replacing it with Google Chat and Google Meet.
But as a commercial-invite-only product. In April, the free version of Google Meet was released.
If you’re already using Google products and services, this is an easy way to add live video chat to your communication tools as a freelancer.
My experience: I used Google Meet for the first time on call a couple weeks ago. Worked a lot like Google Classroom, which I’ve been using since I was forced into home schooling three young kids for the last two months. Thanks, coronavirus. By the way, Google Meet was the live video chat platform of choice by my new client.
Ever make an Internet phone call back in the day? ICQ got started providing VoIP (voice over internet protocol) services about 25 years ago. Then came instant messaging and more competition.
So ICQ did what every good tech company does, adapt, pivot, and create services users want…video conferencing.
Fun fact: You can also use the ICQ software to call phone numbers and send text messages, too. Actually, many of the live video chat platforms on this list share the same feature.
Not sure what’s up with the three-letter names for live video chat software. In this case, IMO was created with social media and chat conversations in mind…In My Opinion.
But it’s evolved over the years, and now offers a video chat platform that you could use to talk with freelance prospects and clients.
Tip: Test it out first. Some recent user feedback suggests there may be tech trouble with sound quality and drop outs. It may be a better option to stay in touch with friends than using to book a business call.
By now you’ve probably heard about “Zoom bombing.” Hackers show up unannounced during a Zoom video call, bypass security measures, and take over the account, mic, screen share, etc., mid conversation. Crazy, right.
Jitsi, an open-source live video chat platform appears to be taking a jab at Zoom’s tech challenges with this marketing message:
“More secure, more flexible, and completely free video conferencing.”
Fun fact: Besides promising better security measures than Zoom, here’s another way Jitsi is different than other live video chat platforms. You don’t have to download anything to use the service.
Here’s another live video chat option to consider using for your freelance business…Line. You can make free video calls from your computer, phone or device. And it appears to be a solid option. Out of 12.1 million reviews Line gets a 4.1 out of 5-star rating.
Interesting fact: Live video chat software isn’t Line’s primary business. It’s better known for creating those apps that turn your face into an avatar, add cat whiskers, or give you elfin-like features.
MeetFox has created a seamless video chat platform experience for users. But it’s clearly interested in targeting freelancers, consultants, and other busy professionals.
For example, MeetFox also includes a scheduling tool so you can book calls with clients and prospects. Which means you don’t have to coordinate that outside of MeetFox via email, text message, or a phone call first. Send an invite book a call, and launch it all from the same place.
Cash in on this feature. One feature that makes MeetFox different…It integrates with Stripe so you can bill clients and prospects for consulting calls directly from the platform. FYI…you can only do three free calls per month with MeetFox.
Besides Zoom, Skype is probably the most recognized video calling platform on this list. And it makes sense. It’s been around since 2003, and bought by Microsoft in 2011 for $8.5 billion.
Skype allows you to connect up to 50 people on a video call. And there’s a feature that populates subtitles in real time, something many video platforms don’t offer.
My experience: At Make a Living Writing, we used to use Skype for blog planning meetings, until moving over to Zoom. It’s still a solid platform and good option for freelancers and client calls.
But hearing “Skype” triggers me every time. I once interviewed for a newspaper job via Skype (ya, too cheap to fly me out) at The Herald Journal, a newspaper in Logan, Utah. Starting salary with a master’s degree in journalism and a few years experience as a reporter and editor…$25,000. No thanks.
WebEx is another familiar player in video conference software. It’s been around since 1995, and was acquired by Cisco Systems in 2007 for $3.2 billion.
WebEx recently expanded it’s freemium version as a way to help people stay connected during COVID-19 lockdowns. For example, now you can host a 50-minute video call with up to 100 participants.
My experience: One of my former clients, a public relations agency, used WebEx for client/contractor meetings and training. Pretty easy to set up, and I’m not a tech genius.
Right now, Zoom is probably the most recognized video conference platform around.
Why? Blame it on the coronavirus. Stuck at home, a surge of people started using Zoom for work, and to stay connected with family and friends.
And while millions of new users revealed some bugs and security issues, Zoom was pretty quick to correct those problems to make the platform better.
It’s a great option for freelancers to host video conference calls with prospects and clients.
Fun fact: Freelance writer Emily Omier hosted freelancer-friendly meet-ups on Zoom during lockdown. And Carol Tice sang karaoke in a private Zoom group while stay-at-home orders were still in place.
Get on some calls with freelance clients and prospects
Want to level up your relationship-building skills with prospects and clients? Book a video call to see if you’re a match, get all the info you need to quote a project, or talk about the details of an assignment. Or check in with a fellow freelancer, get advice, encouragement, and some accountability…Someone is calling me on Zoom, gotta go.
What live video chat tools do you use? Share your tips and suggestions in the comments below.