How to market your freelance services
While the sales approach discussed in the previous section can be highly effective, you won’t have the resources to contact all your potential clients on a one-to-one basis neither is it always appropriate.
However, you do need to find methods of letting them know what you offer. This is where implementing some key marketing devices comes in to play.
Basically, the aim is to pinpoint and develop some low-resource methods of engaging with a wide audience of clients.
You’ll remember from the previous section that this audience includes:
- previous clients – who may have more work coming up soon
- current clients – to remind them that you’re in demand and valuable
- potential clients – those who are on your radar and those who you don’t know about yet and may be interested in what you do.
A high percentage of marketing activity is now carried out online because it is:
- relatively cost-effective
- the way that your clients are communicating
- where your clients would expect to find you
- easy for your clients to find you
- how you can engage with a large audience of clients with few resources.
Consider the following online marketing tools
An online shop window for your work, a website is a key marketing tool. A well constructed website showcases your work in the best possible light. It makes it easy for people to understand what you offer and how to get in contact with you in person.
Nowadays, a website need not break the bank (as little as $35 per year which includes a basic web hosting package and a .com domain name).
A web host that provides a control panel interface will often allow you to install a free content management system such as WordPress. This is effectively a web-building tool with a large variety of free templates that you can adjust to your own requirements.
In fact, having a web presence is becoming increasingly important. No matter what you do as a freelance, it’s important to make sure that people who might want to buy your services can find you online easily.
While the audience for your website is worldwide, most of these people won’t be interested in your services. So, like your sales efforts, an effective marketing strategy will involve engaging with those people who might be interested. This includes helping them to find your website and other information about yourself. To so this, online networking through the likes of social media is useful.
These include Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, WordPress and Blogger. All these should be up to date and linked together.
Google is the most popular search engine so a good place to start would be to create/update your profile here. If you have not already done so, register your Google account and complete your profile. Provide as much detail as you can and make sure you make your profile public.
You will have the opportunity to link your profile to your YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts and many others. You can also add your own blogs and websites. Consider linking direct to pages that are about you or contain your CV. Separately, you can add links to relevant websites. These may be clients or other examples of your work.
This is the professional social network. It’s the place to make sure that your profile contains current examples of your work, details of your recent activities and links to your own and other relevant websites. Ask clients to endorse you by writing references for work you’ve done for them. More and more people are securing employment or work contracts via LinkedIn.
With just 140 characters to play with and originally used for social comment, more people are now using Twitter for business purposes. You can tweet to provide people with useful tit bits of information, getting yourself known as an expert in your field. Otherwise you can use it to showcase your work and provide updates on your work activities.
Beware of over-using Twitter as a promotional tool though as you’ll lose the interest of your audience. It is also powerful as a listening tool. It can help you gain information and work leads so follow other people in your industry, important potential clients and useful sources of work-related information.
Twitter’s search function holds the potential of generating new ideas, content and voices for you in your creative work as well as in your aim to raise awareness about your services and generate interest in what you do. If you haven’t realised its potential yet, it may be worth undertaking some training to find out how to use it to its best advantage.
Once again, Facebook is now increasingly used for business. You can set up a Facebook page for your business as well as have your own personal page.
However, this is where the use of social media for business purposes has become troublesome for many. Potential work colleagues like to know what you’re up to outside work too and many employers now look at potential workers’ Facebook activity.
It might impress people to see that you’re an active and interesting member of society but it may well be a turn off if they see that this includes dancing on the table swigging the last dregs from a bottle of wine. You’ll need to decide if it’s the right move for you to allow colleagues to join your personal Facebook page and/or how much access they can have to this to avoid unexpected negative reactions.
Uploading videos to YouTube and linking them to your online profiles and embedding the videos in your blog or website is a good way to showcase your work and, as YouTube is now owned by Google, boost your online ranking.
People are using social media for both business and social purposes nowadays. If there’s something you don’t want clients to see, simply don’t put it online. As a rule of thumb, don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t be happy for anyone to see.
A short news brief telling your database of clients what you’ve been doing keeps you in their mind’s eye. If you do get in contact directly in the future, it won’t be a bolt from the blue.
Also, if you see a piece of information that might be of use to a particular client, email them the link or a brief summary. This shouldn’t take much effort as you’ll be picking up lots of information as part of your job. It’s just a matter of keeping your marketing hat on.
Don’t ask for anything back and you’ll find that clients warm to you for this and once again you have a better chance of being remembered in a positive light.
Beware of spamming your clients though – less is more where email is concerned.
While an online presence will become increasingly important, there are a couple more marketing techniques that may be useful to you. We’ll cover these in the next sections.