When you move from the safe world of a corporate job to the big, bad (okay, it’s not so bad) world of freelancing, one thing you will need to do for yourself, apart from doing your own budgeting and making your own coffee is marketing your skills and experience to bring in clients—all by yourself.
While some freelancers think they can avoid marketing especially if they lack the experience in it (fortunately, if your freelance skill is marketing then you are set), marketing is an essential activity of the freelance life—a necessary evil. Freelancers make it or break it with their selling abilities.
There are two camps when it comes to marketing, 1) those that embrace it and do a lot of strategic planning and execution and 2) those who only do it when running low on work and as a result, funds.
If you are lost when it comes to marketing yourself as a freelancer, you can begin with the fundamentals below.
Learn Who You’re Marketing Your Services To
While you won’t have to conduct focus groups and spend hours on research, you need to think about who your perfect clients will be- small businesses, ad agencies, or fresh start-ups. Figuring out your ideal clients also includes whether you enjoy working in the clients’ particular industry.
If you enjoy writing about health and fitness or designing e-commerce sites for gift vendors, your enthusiasm for their industry will significantly make the work easier. Furthermore, your enthusiasm will also be integral to selling yourself to the prospective client.
Know Precisely What Service You’re Selling
This is a significant part of your brand. When we say you—the freelancer—are a brand, we mean the characteristics from your positive work attitude to your stellar portfolio all add up to what differentiates and even puts you ahead of your competition.
Gather Testimonials and Recommendations
You can solicit these from your current clients. However, to be aware of your brand is not just about what works but also your deficiencies. While we are not encouraging you to post negative comments, we are telling you to review them on your own and treat them as constructive criticism on how to improve your service and your brand,
Make a List of Things
Things you wish your clients would say about you that is. Like “He always meets his deadline 100%” and “Even on a tight deadline, he produces above average work.” This will be a list of goals you will steer yourself towards a well in conjunction to correcting your perceived weaknesses.
All in all, this will build a strong foundation for your brand which you will subsequently build your marketing efforts around. As with any marketing, the stronger the brand the easier the marketer’s job will be and the more effective your efforts will be as well.
Now that you have a more fine-tuned vision in mind, you can get to marketing yourself as a freelancer using the marketing mediums below.
Create a Blog
Blogs are an effective way to market yourself because they act as a very professional yet personal resume. You can use a blog to write about your industry whether you are a game developer or a graphic designer.
Writers can really show their skills when using a blog, but graphic designers should not feel left out, they can display their work as a gallery in the blog or in the blog design itself.
Get Listed and Find a Freelance Partner
There are online directories of freelancers and even freelance job sites (such as Elance and Guru).
You should also find yourself a freelance partner who not only complements you but also can bring in new work. Graphic designers, for example, might need to collaborate with a writer to produce a professional brochure.
Create a Business Card
You will need this even if you are a freelancer. A clean card with only your name, contact information (email, website, and phone number) will do as well as what you do. Business cards are your walking billboards that can be passed around at no cost.
Give it to the graphic designer or writers you are collaborating with (see above) in case the need for someone with your skill set comes up in conversation.
Get Social and Network
Last and certainly not least, social networks and other social media platforms cannot be ignored nowadays. Using social media to market yourself puts a sizeable and active community not only to spread the word but connect you specifically to the individuals or groups that need you.
Twitter, the micro-blogging site, is a free and effective way to attract clients. You can post or “tweet” tips, for example, within your industry that not only followers seeking tips will find but potential clients who will be impressed by your know-how.
Facebook, on the other hand, lets you setup a Fan Page where you can provide further information about yourself and your services for those seeking you. Furthermore, you can actually tap into other pages and group with active discussions related to your industry. Tap into it, show your unique expertise, and you can win a lot of street credibility and yes, subsequently, customers.
Linked In, of course, is the Facebook of business and can connect you with past clients and former/current co-workers who can post testimonials about you.
Marketing yourself as a freelancer is about building your brand and letting people know about it. Shift your mindset to see yourself as the product!
That about wraps it up folks. Questions or comments, drop them in the comment area below, all are welcomed. And if you found this post useful, you can really help me out by sharing it with your friends via Twitter, FB, or whatever suits your fancy.