With so many people turning to freelance nowadays, companies are finding it more and more appealing to collaborate with freelancers. It’s easier for them to hire someone outside their company for various reasons: less taxes, no benefits to pay, and the need for specialized skills or project-based work.
With the ability to define your own schedule and create the work that excites you, choosing a freelance life can be very appealing. But before any of this happens, we obviously need to have the clients. In order to get clients, we need to market ourselves. Easy peasy, right?
Marketing yourself can sound a bit icky at first—and perhaps even overwhelming—but it shouldn’t be a dreadful chore. In fact, it should be fun! I attribute most of my success in the way I market myself: consistently.
After being laid off from my first agency job, I quickly learned that without a consistent marketing strategy, the proverbial river is bound to run dry.
While there’s lots of ways to market yourself, I’m sharing some of my favorite, free, and most successful avenues.
1. Social Media
Social media, hands down, has been a game changer for my business. Find which platforms work best for you. If you’re a writer, Twitter may be the route to go. Since my business is extremely visual, I find Instagram to be the best fit for me.
Post on a consistent basis to keep those leads coming in. No one has a reason to follow you if you only update your social media sparingly. This is especially true for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter since the shelf life of your posts are short-lived.
Pinterest, however, is great source where your content will continue to bring you website traffic. Since content is constantly being searched and re-pinned, the life of your pins can last weeks, months, and even years! You can check out this post to learn the ins and outs of Pinterest.
Tip: if you have a contact form on your site, make a prompt that asks your contact where they found you. This is extremely helpful in learning where your leads are coming from. When you find out what’s working best for your business, you can put more energy into those channels.
2. Blog away
Share your wisdom! If you can help solve a problem for someone, they’re likely going to come back to you for help. This not only shows your expertise, but helps create trust and builds a relationship. Soon, they’ll no longer be a stranger who stumbled upon your work, but rather a client.
The idea of consistently updating your blog can feel intimidating. We already have enough on our plate, so how can we find the time to write a blog? Chip away at it everyday. Give yourself 30 minutes a day to focus on your blog. I tend to have more brain power in the mornings when my mind is refreshed, so that’s when I allot my blog time.
Write in-depth posts and really show that you know your stuff. Quality is better than quantity when it comes to blogs. Short articles without substance won’t help you or anyone else, so make the best of your time with high quality posts.
3. Make sure your website is in tip-top shape
Your website should sell yourself (okay, not literally but you get the point 😉 ). It doesn’t have to be drop-dead gorgeous. Oftentimes when we’re starting out, we need to take the DIY approach to our website—and that’s okay!
The most basic of websites should have a clear place to view your work, a short bio, and a contact form or ways someone can get in touch with you. Update your site with new work as often as you can.
Make it easy for someone to contact you. I know that sounds awfully obvious, but I’m often surprised how hard it can be to find someone’s contact information! Let your friends and family view your site and see how easily they navigate through it—that’s often a good indicator if your website is successful or not.
4. Ask for referrals
There’s nothing more amazing than the power of a referral—it’s like free marketing! It’s in our nature to do business with someone who feels familiar to us. When someone gives a referral of your business, they’re sharing their trust, too. If you’re professional, kind, and provide the best experience you can, referrals will come naturally.
It doesn’t hurt to ask for referrals, too—especially when you’re first starting out. Once you finish a project, kindly ask them for a referral. Something along the lines of,
It was such a pleasure working with you, I’m so glad to hear you’re happy with my [service]! If you feel there’s anyone who could use my [service], I’d appreciate it if you could pass my name along!
This is entirely up to you, but you can also try offering bonuses if you particularly liked doing work with that certain client. Aim to be the best in your field so people will want to refer you. Always put your best foot forward, no matter how difficult a client may be.
5. Start that email list
Your email list can be an marvelous marketing technique. Check in consistently with your list at a rate that’s comfortable to you (I aim for about once a month). Here’s some ideas on how to get started with your email campaigns.
You can update your audience with new blog posts, or show them recent work you’ve done. With each email you send, you have the ability to further strengthen your relationship with those who are interested in what you do. Eventually, someone may be compelled to start a dialogue with you and book your services.
Emails are a fantastic way of providing for your audience and reinforcing your brand awareness. Always aim to help your audience with new content, rather than always sending promotional emails.
6. Get featured
This is definitely easier said than done, but getting featured by a big brand or magazine can really boost your credibility and visibility. To increase your chances of getting seen, make sure your brand is everywhere: your blog, social media, comments on other blogs or forums, and so on. Participate in discussions, answer questions, and seek out new contacts to engage with in conversation.
The absolute easiest way to get featured? Keep creating original work. You don’t always need to share your client work on social media. In fact, many people LOVE to see your own creative work. Share your personality and quirks with the world. Take time each day to put towards making something that best defines your style.
Getting your name out there takes time. While there are definitely quicker ways you can use paid promotions to market yourself, sometimes our budget in the beginning isn’t the biggest. Stay active on social media, have a stunning website, and never stop creating original work. Learning to pull in leads organically is a great lesson in learning your style, your audience, and how to keep your freelance business running smoothly.