How to Successfully Market Yourself as a Freelancer
Being a freelancer is great, you are your own boss and can take all the projects you want to work on. But if no one knows about your services, then how will you get any clients? The fact is when you are a freelancer you have to not only be an expert in your field, you have to be an expert marketer.
Research and Setting Goals
Before blindly jumping into marketing yourself, you should set up goals to what you want to attain. Doing so will let you measure how you are doing, and where you are going as a freelancer. For instance, who will be the best fit for your services? Where are they looking to find people to hire? These types of questions are a great place to start.
Research can become tedious and daunting when first starting, but it pays off in the end. Start reading up on industry publications to find the latest trends and marketing tactics for your field. You might not be a fortune 500 company, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find marketing ideas like them. If you are a web designer for a certain niche, find out where that niche hires their graphic designers. Find those designers and see where they are marketing.
If there is a freelancer you admire, see where their ads are appearing and how he or she markets themselves. You don’t have to steel their ideas, but you can grow and learn from them. Once you have decided who your target audience is going to be, where they are looking to find help and how you can reach them, you need to put your plan into action. Come up with multiple ways you are going to reach your customers, whether it be through Twitter, your blog or sites like Elance.
Just as major corporations do, you need to be consistent in the messages you are sending to your future clients. Vandelay Design points out, “Adii Pienaar successfully marketed himself as a WordPress rockstar and became recognized as one of the leading WordPress designers. After the reputation had been established, he teamed up with some other talented designers and started WooThemes, which quickly become one of the leaders in selling premium WordPress themes.”
The more you get your message out to your audience, the more people will start to think of you when they need your services. Think of a creative way to do this, just as Pienaar did when he decided to make himself the WordPress rockstar.
You don’t want to come up with something that people will forget about the moment they leave your site, but at the same time you don’t want your brand to overshadow your skills. It is a game of balance, and it can and will pay off. The branding could simply be your name, or a catch phrase like the WordPress rockstar. Just make sure it is unique and something that represents what you do, and who you are.
A blog is a great way to showcase your talents. If you are a graphic designer, you can use your blog as a portfolio for your designs, and as a web designer you can promote the blog and show how you created the design. Have your contact information easily available on your blog so people can get hold of you.
Image credit: skooksie
If you don’t want to publish your email address because of spam, use a contact form. However you decide to do it, make sure it is easy for the user to get hold of you. If it isn’t, they might not take the time to find you and make you lose out on potential money.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Knowing what keywords to target, and how to market your blog will only help your exposure to prospects. Making sure your site is on page SEO friendly, on top of other SEO tactics should help. If someone does a search for freelance graphic designers, wouldn’t you want your website to come up first? SEO is an art form, and you will have to work at it—but with the right tactics you can see results.
Sites such as Search Engine Land, and Search Engine Guide are two great resources to help you get started. If you do have some knowledge of SEO, use that to your advantage and use that in your marketing pitch.
Obviously this is necessary if you are a freelancer or work in the corporate world. Get advice, and start talking with other freelancers. They should be able to introduce you to the people that need your services. Sometimes a project may come up for someone who doesn’t have time for it, and they can recommend you. This is also a great way to promote your blog or portfolio site. Getting more traffic to your website should generate more opportunities for projects. Remember as you are networking to push your branding message and stay consistent.
Go online and see if there are any meet ups for freelancers in your town. I know a lot of us want to network via social media these days, but there is something to be said for person to person contact. Make sure you aren’t selling yourself constantly at these events. No one wants to hear just about you all night. Remember to be yourself, and not sound like a used car salesman.
Pitch, Pitch, Pitch
One thing that is actually easier than people think is to just simply ask someone if they are looking for a web designer, graphic designer etc. They might see your work and decide you are a perfect fit. You should make sure your pitch is short, sweet and to the point.
No one has time to sit and read a 3 page email on how great your CSS skills are - instead write a short paragraph or two to get the attention of the person you are contacting. Once you get their attention you can send them more information.
If you want some examples of what NOT to do in your pitches, check out the Bad Pitch blog. Public relation professionals pitch to reporters and potential clients on a daily basis, and are a great resource on how to hone your pitching skills. Once you have built your network up, ask other freelancers how they pitch. You can learn a lot from other people who are willing to share their good and bad experiences.
LinkedIn is a great place to find and contact people that could need your services. Once you have made an introduction, ask to set up a phone call. Social media is a great way to find people, but make sure you take the relationship offline as well.
Contests and Testimonials
There seem to be a contest for just about everything these days. Enter yourself in competitions that relate to your field - best blogger, web designer for a children's site. Whatever it is you do, there most likely is a contest or award for top people in your niche. If you win these awards, showcase it on your website and/or portfolio. It will give you that extra edge to set yourself apart from other freelancers and agencies.
Once you start getting clients, ask for testimonials to showcase your site. Every little bit counts, and having people boast about how much they enjoyed your work, is a great way to generate the leads you need to get a new project. If you work with any high level company, or get mentioned in a publication, have that on your site as well.
Start Marketing Yourself Now!
Just like anything else marketing is learned over time. It comes easier for some than others, but in the end you really have to learn from your mistakes and realize what marketing tactics work for you. One blogger might be able market one way, while the same tactic might not work for you.
The best thing is to dive in, and start seeing what works. Once you start seeing how your efforts work, you will be able to tweak your marketing plan to work the best for you.
Do you think marketing is important? How do you market yourself as a freelancer and what are your tips in marketing yourself successfully? Please share with us in the comments below.