If you’re a freelancer you literally have to be the most proactive person in the universe. There’s no room for kicking back and relaxing with a cuppa. There’s always work to be done! Even if there’s no actual work to be done, you could be out there marketing your freelance services.
Oh look, I’ve only gone and done it. I’ve only gone and mentioned the dreaded ‘M’ word.
Despite having worked in marketing for a few years before going freelance, I still can’t wrap my head around promoting my own services. Marketing someone else’s business – no problem. Want me to talk big about my own? Uh… no thanks.
But if you want to get anywhere in life as a freelancer you have to bite the bullet and get your name out there. At first it can feel a little cringey (and sometimes you might look in the mirror and see a slick-haired salesman instead of yourself), but when you find the beat that’s right for you, things start to come together.
If you’re anything like me you shrivel away at the thought of having to shout about your services from the rooftop. I see people doing it all the time (uninvited) on FB pages and it makes me shudder with embarrassment for them.
So how the hell do you go about doing it properly?
Well, I’m planning a much more in-depth post about how you can market your freelance services on a weekly and monthly basis (this marketing thing never ends – it’s like a constant monkey on my back), but for this post I want to ease you in. Y’know, like when the pool’s cold and you have to do feet first then slowly, slowly, slowly….
So instead of overwhelming you with a HUGE post about all the things you SHOULD be doing to market your freelance services, I’m going to be really nice and give you a few pointers for some small things you can do today (or right now!).
At no point will you have to say “HIRE ME PLZ”. At no point will you have to beg someone for work. Oh no, this is all very dignified. Trust me.
How Can You Market Your Freelance Services Today?
Got a spare half an hour or so? Maybe whilst the kettle’s boiling or you’re waiting for lunch to cook? Well I’ve got a little treat for you. Instead of staring into space try one, two, three or even all of these ideas and let me know how they work out for you! (Seriously, I really would love to know how they work out for you in the comments or by email!).
1. Submit a Guest Post to an Authority Site
Ah, the old working for free gem. Remember when I wrote about that just last week? It generated a healthy conversation about when it’s a good idea to work for free and when it’s absolutely not.
Whilst some people thought guest posting was a big no-no, I still stand by it as a great way to get your name in front of potential clients. I’ve picked up a couple of clients from blogging on The Huffington Post, and a couple of others have got in touch after seeing an article I wrote on other big sites.
That’s the key here: big sites.
Don’t waste your time writing an amazing piece for a site with less viewers than your dad’s 1999 blog.
You want to aim big – think big publications in your city, lifestyle blogs that are always on the hunt for contributors (like LifeHack). Send off a quick email with your idea and voila – wait for the clients to roll in.
Okay, OKAY. It’s not that easy.
You have to work hard to get clients from a guest post but it can pay off in extremely big bucks. Just make sure you write an awesome piece with a unique angle. Throw in some expertise to show potential clients that you’re the BOSS of this topic. And wait.
The good thing about guest posting is it’s constant marketing for you. A lot of sites will keep pushing your post out on social media for months afterwards, and if it’s a big enough site, your piece should rank high on Google (so make sure it’s about something people are searching for!).
2. Email Past Clients
Yuck, I hear you say.
Hear me out though.
Emailing past clients can seem a little cringey, particularly if you’ve cut all ties after a project finished. But often companies and brands don’t even realise they need the help you can offer.
So you wrote a couple of blog posts for a client? Or you designed a logo for them? Why not get back in touch and ask if they need their copy updating, whether they’d like some social media posts writing, or whether they’d like some custom graphics made?
Depending on your skills and talents there is plenty more work you could be doing for past clients.
I emailed a client I used to work with the other week after work dried up. They got back to me almost immediately saying they had a couple of projects coming up and I’d be the first person they’d contact.
Even if nothing materialises instantly, you’ll still be reminding them that you’re there and are capable of doing all these amazing things for them.
So when they need said amazing things, guess who’ll be at the front of their mind?
BONUS TIP #1: Connect With a Couple of Potential Clients
I did an experiment one week where I researched potential clients in my area and just sent off a quick email introducing myself and my services.
I sent two emails like this a day (that’s right, just two), and at least half of them got back to me asking me for more information.
It took me about half an hour each day to find perfect potential clients (and trust me, they need to be your ideal audience), but it generated a lot of interest in my services. I’m still ironing out some details with a couple of them but, at the very least, there are ten brands in my niche who now know who I am and what I offer – now tell me that isn’t a great way to market your services.
3. Update Your Email Signature
How many emails do you send a day? If you’re anything like me I’m guessing it’s a fair few.
It’s amazing how many freelancers don’t market their services in their email signature. A simple “Freelance writer” or “Freelance designer” will do, with a quick link to your portfolio and your phone/Skype number.
Think of all the potential people who’ll read that today.
Okay it’s worth looking at who you email. Clients? Family?
But really, let’s be honest: it doesn’t matter. Anyone with any connection to you might be looking for a freelancer like you. Or they might know someone who needs a freelancer.
4. Promote Some Pieces from your Portfolio
I’m always amazed at how many pieces I write for clients that just sit on the internet gathering dust. They promote them once or twice on Twitter and let them disappear into the ether.
Now, I usually charge extra to promote work through my social channels but if I think it might help me in the long run I might send out a tweet here or there. Only the work that I’m really proud of, of course (only market your freelance services with your greatest pieces/designs/whatever).
I only work with brands I’d be happy to promote regardless of whether I was working for them or not, so there’s no issue there. The only problem comes when I’ve ghostwritten a piece for a client. I can’t promote that – well, I mean I can, but I can’t promote it as a piece of work written by me.
If you don’t want to straight up promote a client without them paying, you could always tweet a link to your portfolio and add relevant hashtags to it for exposure.
You never know who might be scrolling through Twitter looking for a freelancer.
5. Optimize Your Twitter Account
For so long my Twitter profile was all arty farty with one word sentences about things I liked. Tea. Dogs. Travel. Sure, it might look good but it sure as hell doesn’t help potential clients find you.
If you’re using Twitter then make the most of what it offers you. Use relevant hashtags in your profile (though not too many as this can get seriously sore on the eyes) and make sure you write what you actually do. You could even add that you’re open for hire if you want to.
Include a link to your site or portfolio to make it easy for clients. Add your destination, too, if you’re sticking around in one place for a while. It makes it easier for people to find you if they’re searching for someone in a specific place and is a great way to market your freelance services in your local area.
Finally, make sure your profile picture is professional and easy on the eye. Have a clear headshot if possible and remember to smile!
BONUS TIP #2: Add Testimonials to Your Site
I’m always getting emails from clients about how much they liked my work and how easy I am to work with (toot toot toot) and for ages these emails just got buried in my inbox.
No one saw them, especially the people who needed to see them the most – potential clients.
I dread to think how many testimonials have gone under the radar, never to be seen and shouted about again.
But now I try to update my portfolio site with fresh testimonials every now and again. I always ask clients for them or, if they volunteer the feedback with no push from me, I quickly ask if it’s okay to use on my site.
I have a whole page on my portfolio site that’s dedicated to client testimonials, and I think it just adds that bit of oomph to any freelancer’s site (plus it’s a great way to market your freelance services with very little effort!).
Phew, okay. So these are a few things you can do today (right now if you want to!) to market your freelance services and give you business a little boost. If you try any of these out I’d love to know how you get on in the comments! And if you have any other suggestions for quick-fire ways to market your freelance business, put your hand up too!
In the meantime, if you want in on the big ol’ upcoming post about how to market your freelance services for proper real, sign up to the newsletter below and get first dibs!