James White, a freelance writer, gives some valuable tips based on experience to help market yourself as a freelancer.
One of the hardest aspects of running your own freelance business is that it’s all up to you to find new jobs to keep the money coming in. A great portfolio of work, past client testimonials, and an easy-to-use website can help with landing those new clients, but the tricky part is attracting those potential clients in the first place. In other words, a beautiful website may be important, but if no one is viewing it, then it’s not doing you any good.
That means you need a marketing strategy that works for you and your freelance business, whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to grow your client base. Follow these tips when creating your marketing plan, and you’ll be off to a good start.
1. Define yourself as an industry expert
Standing out from the competition is important, and a large part of that is establishing yourself as an authority in your field. One way to do this is to share your knowledge with a blog. While your blog should, naturally, focus on your industry, it’s also important to utilize search engine optimization (SEO) to make it easier for people to find you when performing an online search. For example, if you work as a freelance personal stylist, you could use the keyword phrase “what to wear with capris” in an article about summer fashion. That way, when people search for that phrase, there will be a chance that they come across your blog.
You can also establish yourself as an authority in other ways. Depending on your field, come up with other valuable content to offer potential clients. Perhaps put together an e-book or a download to exclusive content that people can only receive by providing their contact information to you. Or create a weekly newsletter and ask people to sign up for your newsletter in your email signature, website and your social media efforts.
2. Check out the competition
How are your competitors getting noticed? Are they posting paper flyers? Utilizing online ads? Monitor what they’re doing, and if it looks like it’s paying off for them, consider doing something similar. This isn’t necessarily recommending that you copy their efforts. Rather, it’s about seeing what works and then making it your own.
3. Think local
Many freelance businesses can work with clients the world over, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook your own neighborhood. That’s because it can often be easier to establish relationships with potential clients when you’re able to meet with them face to face offline. For one, if you’re a freelance graphic designer and see one of your favorite local shops could use a facelift in terms of their logo or website, stop by their store, ask to meet with a manager, and introduce yourself. This leads us to the next tip …
4. Network online and off
Networking is one of the most important marketing tools at your disposal, and that goes for both online and off. Online, build a presence on a variety of social media sites as a way of spreading the word about yourself, your business, and your wealth of knowledge in your industry.
Offline, head out to local events and make sure to bring your business cards. But while out networking, whether you’re taking part in a networking event or just at a local art gallery show, forget the hard sell. The last thing people want is to be given a pitch while they’re trying to have fun; start by finding common ground and building relationships instead.
5. Follow up with past clients
While marketing and looking for new customers is important, don’t overlook the customer base you already have. Every once in awhile, reach out to past clients and ask if they need any additional help on new projects that they’re working on. This might also be a good chance to ask for a client testimonial about any work you have done for them; then you can post the client testimonial to your site so that people who organically reach your website can read a few reviews about you and your services.
Marketing takes time to pay dividends, but come up with some marketing goals, plan your strategy, and work at it hard and long enough, and chances are you’ll start getting lots of referrals that drive your business growth going forward.
Our guest author James is a freelance writer, photographer and finishing up his business degree at Vista College. Read more articles from James on his blog InfoBros and follow him on Twitter @JGtheSavage.