In March 2017, we hosted a new Blog Carnival at freelancermap.com and asked our users: “how do you market your freelance services?”. We wanted to know the marketing strategies that you use frequently for your freelance business to get the best results. But we didn’t just stop there, we also reached out to brand and marketing specialists and asked for their best tips too.
Here are the awesome tips that our freelance experts and marketing specialists shared with us:
“Personal branding is a must for freelancers. That said, publishing your work is the basic step. You need to have a good portfolio and allow clients to see it. If you are just starting out and don’t have a consistent portfolio, write articles about your field and work. Have a blog or use LinkedIn Pulse to start with. Furthermore, have your own channel. Social media channels are owned by third parties and you can’t control them. For instance, even if you have 6 Thousand followers on Facebook, only a small part of your public will see your publications without paying for ads. The solution is to build your own website and have a newsletter to create an email list. I can reach now many more readers through the newsletter than through my publications on Facebook, for example.
Don’t sell yourself too cheap. Research what other freelancers are charging for the service, have a clear picture of how much you want to earn in a year to set your price and include room for negotiation, as many clients will ask for a discount.
Have a lifestyle as a personal brand. This tip is a polemic one, but there is a reason why MacBook is associated with creative professionals, and that’s not because it is a good notebook. Confidence for freelancers is everything. Branding yourself is building confidence through a lifestyle and printing your personality on your services and products.”
Share your work on Pinterest. Pinterest brings in over 75% of my website traffic and helps me target people that are interested in my niche. Here are my top tips: Have a clear description in your ‘about you’ section and include a link to your website. For your profile photo, use a friendly photo of yourself as people can relate to you better! The first board on your profile should be solely for things related to your business and freelance work. Here you can pin your work, portfolio, images, designs and blog posts etc. Your Pinterest graphics should be quality images that match your branding and are recognisable. Make your Pinterest profile cohesive and only create boards that are relevant to your target market.
Build an email list. Sending a newsletter to your subscribers, gives you the opportunity to advertise your services to people that actually care. Your marketing will be much more effective because you’re targeting people that are really interested in what you offer.
Use Facebook Groups where your ideal clients hang out. Sharing your knowledge and advice will position you as an expert in your niche. Another advantage is that you get to know your potential customers on a friendly and more personal level.”
Regularly blog online: Blogging allowed me the opportunity to think through different topics on my mind as well as share insights that have helped me, with others. Over time blogging activity establishes authority, credibility and simply reminds people we exist and we’re active in our work. Another idea is to guest blog write for other websites. Branching out increases our credibility within our network as well as exposing us to people who would likely not discover us.
Engage on social media: This is a great starting point to establish a distribution network – during the first three months of blogging, social media led to one-third of my overall traffic. Many times these posts would act as triggers for talking with me about communication problems they were having.
Bonus tip: Sustain activity when you’re loaded with paying work: While my online presence has slowed down with the time, I realize it is important to maintain a level of activity so when I do need to find new paying projects, the machine is easily available to accelerate the process. If I can meet with a few people per week, post at least quarterly on my blog and stay active on my social media weekly, I should be able to maintain a steady amount of awareness to reap the benefits when I need them”.
I try to be aware of what is new, and what might work for me as a professional freelance illustrator and designer. If an image, video and text isn’t reaching the right people, and you don’t convince them to sign up for your Newsletter or to your blog, money can be lost with no real gain.
Marketing is also networking. Therefore, if you have the possibility to interact in Facebook and Linkedin local business groups, then do. I like to let possible clients know they can trust my abilities, that they get great service and above all great illustration and design. My blogs are great, because writing a blog lets me connect in a different way. I can write about issues and ideas in a way that feels, frankly, more serious than let’s say Facebook. I have blog articles that are many years old, and still reach readers, in a way Facebook wouldn’t do today in the same way. And blogging has shown to be a great attractor that keeps on giving”.
How to do that? Build an online identity: organize your social media, email accounts, and other online platforms to have a unique nickname, so you can be easily found. After building your identity, you need to choose which tone are you going to use to present yourself to your social network, prospects, and clients. If you want to be recommended, you have to show yourself as dedicated to your work, eager for knowledge and professional enhancement.
Are you conscious of what you publish online? When you are a freelancer and self-employed, you need to be careful with what you publish and share. That means, you have to plan what you are going to post in each channel and produce clever and inspiring content that shows your knowledge and your values. Know who your public are and how to reach them and develop the right content. In my case, I focus on my website as my main communication channel to do my self-marketing through showcasing projects and old clients and sharing stories, tips, and ideas that endorses the kind of professional that I am”.
Second, create a website for your business. Your website should represent you and the services you provide in the best way possible. This doesn’t mean you need expensive design or a complicated site. You need only to create a simple, clear site that talks about the distinct, results-focused packages that solve the problems your clients most need help solving.
Finally, take charge of marketing your business. Create and build connections actively. Start an email list. Build a reputation as someone who creates incredible results for your clients. If you start taking your business seriously, you’ll be surprised at how much further you can go than you can as a freelancer.”
Make partnerships. So did you make the client happy and does he has always project demands? Close a partnership! This can include payment installments, discounts and also a fixed monthly payment. Last but not least, keep networking with other freelancers. Not only clients can be partners, but also other freelancers. Did you get a last minute job, but don’t have the time? Have a list of other freelancers to help you deliver the work.”
Branding: As a professional, you sell your service to clients. So as a brand, you need to create an image and show it in every communication channel and in every work you do. Which tone of voice do you use? Which colors are associated with your brand? How do you approach a client? Having consistency in your online presence is important. Clients will be confident in hiring you because everything they see and read seems professional.
Be really present on social media channels: it is not enough to have a profile on Facebook or LinkedIn. Search for groups related to your field, follow the postings, answer questions and help people. Especially the last one: it will help showcase your knowledge and people will remember you as a reference in your field. Furthermore, people will usually search for an answer in the Google search before consulting a professional. So one of the best marketing strategies for you is to answer questions people ask on sites such as Quora, Yahoo Answers, and forums.”
Understand your audience: What kind of clients are you trying to attract? What type of content do they like to consume and why? Your answers to these questions will dictate how good you are at reaching exactly the type of people you need to, in order to flourish.
Join communities: Be open-minded and connect with other freelancers in your field. Embrace all the different groups out there on social media and you could end up with more support than you’d ever thought possible.
Learn SEO: Of all the different marketing strategies out there, SEO is perhaps the most reliable. The better we are at SEO and the higher we rank, the more attention we’ll get. The great thing about SEO is, if you do it yourself, it’s free.
Create case studies and social proof: If you are starting out and still don’t have lots of client experience or testimonials to shout about, it might be an idea to perform some work for free. This’ll give you the case studies, testimonials and social proof that you need to convince other clients to trust you”.
Build your online presence. Create your presence online to become discoverable. Because you are a service-based solopreneur it may be beneficial to have a yourname.com domain and build your website. Your website has to be consistent and most importantly, has to be centered, similarly to your elevator pitch, around your customer. You can also build your presence on social media. Find out where your potential clients hang out and make use of that channel. Be active, engage and provide a lot of value. Value, value and value once again. Start a blog and create social media posts that respond to your potential clients’ needs and wants. If you don’t know what they struggle with, simply ask and provide help.
Remember my favorite saying ABH: Always Be Helping. Help people with things that are within your zone of genius. People whom you have helped will be recommending you and that network of recommendations will work wonders for your business. Be yourself and don’t be scared to be visible. In today’s world people want to work with real people. Don’t be afraid to show who you are and “advertise” the value you can provide. Your talents are unique. There is no other person out there who is exactly like you. Work smart and let your talents speak for you.”
Besides that, I recommend that you don’t wait until you quit your regular job to start freelancing: go out there to find your clients, tell all your contacts (friends, family, colleagues and former colleagues) that you are freelancing and team up with advertising agencies and other freelancers. That makes the transition easier”.
Participate in tech conferences, especially in the countries or sectors you want to enter, to improve your networking, find and meet new clients and partners. Conferences are also perfect places to get up-to-date to your field and getting new ideas.
It is crucial for freelancers to understand the importance to take care of their own virtual image and reputation. That said, I also think it is very important to try to have physical meetings in addition to virtual ones, when it is possible. Remote communication is much cheaper and less time consuming, but it is important to remember that physical meetings are able to convey much more information and trust, especially when you are starting difficult or extensive projects and dealing with big clients. Freelancers need to have confidence in the use of IT tools for communication but they also need to learn “best contact practices” to increase their trustability.”
Go to meetups and events. Building relationships is a critical part of marketing. Grow your network by seeking out industry events or masterminds. Share what you know. Write content for a blog or LinkedIn, do public talks, don’t be afraid to share what you know. It’s more likely that a potential client will stumble upon you realize just how much you really know.
Create systems and templates. Proposal template, Agreement template, New client onboarding process, Feedback delivery process, etc – investing a few hours into creating systems can save you a lot more time later.
Follow up. You do want to follow up with anyone you’ve had contact with. A follow up message isn’t a lengthy pitch–it’s a genuine note to check in and keep you top of mind. Engage with prospects on social media. Identify dream clients and participate in discussions with them when you can. This is an opportunity for you to offer insights (and for them to see your name).
Find your niche. Don’t be scared in specializing yourself. You’d be surprised at a) how much more you can earn, and b) how much you’ll learn.
Ask for referrals and references for clients and don’t forget to ABM (Always Be Marketing). Consistency is key to long-term success, so keep marketing even at your busiest times.
Paid Ads: SEO can take some time to work, so you may want to market your services in a faster way investing in Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. Knowing your focus keywords and target group can help you to achieve better results in both campaigns.
Social Media: don’t mix your personal profile with your professional one and try to keep it updated. Leaving posts from 2 years ago can give clients a bad impression. Social media is also part of a good SEO strategy, so create quality content on your blog to share.
Add an human touch. You can use many tools and techniques, but don’t forget that you are dealing with people. Offer a good costumer service in every moment, from the prospection, work execution and to the delivery. Be patient. Explain every step of the work and the pricing. Freelancers are searched for every kind of clients, and some of them may not know exactly what they want or need”.
Engage on Twitter to establish trust with your clients. Show off your knowledge and engage with potential clients. Be authentic. Real engagement will help you build incredible relationships. Start by taking part in Twitter chats.
Don’t neglect your website. Make sure your website is user friendly and potential clients can easily contact you. Also, keep track of your visitors with Google Analytics, not to miss very valuable information from your users (demographics, user flow, etc.). The most important tip is to know the message you want to get across, then make sure you’re speaking to that message at every touchpoint.”
Create your profile on freelancing platforms and share links to your site and social media networks within the profile.
Develop an email marketing strategy once you have an audience on your blog. Share your best blog posts, inform them about your last discount or simply invite them to give you a call.
Social connections are really important. Don’t leave home without a business card! Your next client might come from a friend’s friend of your cashier. Rely on fellow freelancers to get the work done faster (and better). Find the perfect partner to work with on projects for which you could need a hand. My last tip is to focus on creating a solid personal brand.”
Furthermore, treat every client individually, as they have different and specific needs. That means, you need to personalize every work proposal: answer directly to the client’s needs, explain what exactly you can do, and what differentiates your work.
Do every job thinking about your portfolio. A portfolio is the most important asset for a successful freelance career. Besides that, if a client is happy with your work, he will certainly hire you again and recommend you further. Last tip: focus on building your reputation. Ask clients to write recommendations and to leave positive evaluations on the freelance platforms.”
Do you have another marketing strategy to share? Have you tried any of these tips? Share your thoughts and ideas with our freelancing community!