August 24, 2015
How To Effectively Market Yourself As A Freelancer
Gaining new clients is as hard as a freelancer. The roster you have likely were all referred to you or found you based on an online job posting reply of some sort. While both of these tactics are really great ways to onboard new clients there are more steps you can take to eliminate the proactive approach when seeking out more clients.
This post is a series of tips or considerations to think about when trying to market yourself correctly to your target audience.
Marketing in a Nutshell
Marketing in my own summarized definition is anything to do with promoting yourself or your brand to help people be aware of the goods, services, or causes you support. Making people aware of you is step one of the processes. From there you need to get people to opt-in somehow. Having them take the plunge is effective marketing. Many companies use incentives to get more people on board. Some examples include:
- Billboards along the highway with a phone number or website and incentives for calling or visiting the company online.
- Flyers/Coupons to offer goods or services at a discounted rate.
- Online Display Ads offering discounted rates for a product or service.
- Free Trials of a product or services that then charge after a month is up.
- Newsletter Signups
- Buy one get one free advertising
The list goes on and on. Marketers at companies around the world employ a lot of the same tactics when trying to push their brand to the masses. As a freelancer, you can learn a lot from many companies and copy their approach depending on the budget range you have. As the saying goes
"You have to spend money to make money..."
Spending money to market yourself whether it's in a local newspaper or on twitter can be a cost-effective approach to onboarding new clients for your freelance business. Gaining just a few clients is considered a success because that client can both help refer you to others as well as be a repeat client depending on the work at hand.
Today a lot of marketing is done online. More people have access to the Internet than ever before and with that comes new ways to get people to sign up or opt into something you offer. Products and services can be marketed in a similar way. There are many outlets available to start pushing your brand across many networks to get more impressions.
Display ads are on almost every website. Website authors use these to create some passive income based on impressions and click received. There are a lot of merchants available for display ads online. Some are reserved only for high traffic websites while others are open for anyone.
a program run by Google that allows publishers in the Google Network of content sites to serve automatic text, image, video, or interactive media advertisements, that are targeted to site content and audience. 
Google maintains and performs administrative functionality on these ads, but they are free for use if you are a publisher. As a publisher, you can add them to your web pages and receive compensation by doing so. It's not tons of money but if you were to get a lot of traffic you could hopefully reuse those earnings for your business.
Obviously, as an advertiser, using display ads to market your brand is going to cost you, but the price can be adjusted to fit your specific budget range.
If you're on Twitter (and you should be if you're serious), a freelancer can do pretty well with Twitter Ads. These work very similar to the way Google Ads works, but it's geared around the Twitter network. You target your demographic and market, select your budget range and decide what kind of campaign you're interested in. From there, Twitter handles the rest.
Currently, there are just a handful of pre-defined campaigns available from Twitter you can use but luckily there is also a custom option if you want to tailor your own experience.
- Website clicks or conversions
- Tweet engagements
- App installs or re-engagements
- Leads on Twitter
Being a freelancer myself. I've used Twitter a time or two. I would suggest getting people to come to your website as the first viable option or getting leads. Either of these methods can help you narrow in on prospects who would be the most interested in working with you.
Facebook has taken the world by storm. It's become its own Google for lack of a better term. By being such a large network, Facebook is also a great way to market yourself or your brand to potential consumers in your demographic.
Facebook ads allow you to target by:
- Custom Audiences
- Lookalike Audiences
Depending on where you are trying to market, you can submit your services to your local community or anyone on the website. Doing both would benefit as you could gain clients from all over the world or clients down the street.
With the vast majority of people on Facebook, there's no doubt that using their ads is a great way to gain exposure and better market yourself.
Other Ad Software
BuySellAds - A great bundle of software available to those who have larger audiences. It's more of a no-nonsense approach to marketing yourself as well as publishing ads on your site to increase revenue for your company or business.
Carbon Ads - These ads are geared towards the niches of designers and developers. A lot of personal blogs of designers, developers, and freelancers use these to offer a more sleek look to a modern-day display ad.
LinkedIn Ads - Using LinkedIn as a network to connect with other business colleagues and find new is a great way to get referrals. You can use their internal ad software to market to those in your network and out on the website.
Without a doubt, social media is a great way to promote your business. Driving customers to your website or to get in contact with you is the goal in mind with marketing.
Social media allows you to share content in which your target market may benefit. After a while, more attention will be directed to what you share, so long as it's quality content. As this process repeats more people will pay attention to what you have to say thus consider you a true expert in your field. This leads to more clients, work, and trust.
Being on social media is wise but you don't have to be a part of every network out there. Typically someone will be more active on one than the other. I am much more active on Twitter than Facebook, but your results may vary.
Twitter is powerful in the sense that it limits the number of characters you can tweet. This forces users to cut straight to the point which is what I love. I personally don't want to read a novel-like post on any type of social media so it suits me better.
Tweeting content you blog about, interesting content you found on other blogs or just random bits about what you do is a nice way to let people in on how you work. This way people that follow you can put more trust in who you are and possibly consider working with you in the future.
Facebook on its own is becoming a little corrupt to me but that's just a personal opinion. There's a little too much freedom with what a user can post but in the same light, it's very powerful. What I think more powerful is the ability to create a Facebook page for your business. This feature gives you a place to promote yourself, display any necessary contact information to attract potential prospects to get in touch and also share as a first point of contact for any clients or customers you have if you don't already have a website.
We work in a world where you can work from anywhere. This comes with some drawbacks but also plenty of positives. The drawbacks are in-person communications. Sometimes just conversing with others sparks new ideas or presents new opportunities for your business.
You can still work remotely or on-site here and there as a freelancer, but it's also good to get out to extend your own personal network rather than online.
Doing this helps others keep you in mind for future work or opportunities.
Networking also allows you to depend on others down the line if you obtain a client who needs something was done that you have no knowledge of how to do. Freelancers often combine forces to tackle projects together as a result of networking. This is sometimes how agencies are born.
I will say that I wouldn't force networking if you are desperate for work. Don't be that guy or gal who is just a salesman. No one wants to listen to a sales pitch. They just want to meet, know who you are, what you do, and how you can help each other make a profit down the line if possible.
Blogging reigns supreme in the marketing world. It's the approach at first seems indirect to your audience but over time you will hopefully start to attract attention if you author good content.
Sharing your own thoughts, expertise, work habits, and more are wonderful blogging topics as it opens the doors to how you do what you do. People like to understand what it is they are getting when they hire you. If you can effectively tell your story, then more are likely to inquire about your services.
Blogging is also just a great way to give back. People in your niche enjoy reading about the same things you do typically. Giving back promotes good faith and allows you to earn their trust. If you earn their trust you can start offering new ways to make some passive income in the form of e-books, stock photos, pre-made themes of some sort, and much more. It all depends on your niche in the end.
Marketing is essential for any business to grow and keep growing. Without it, you'll likely hit a plateau as business transpires. Successful marketing doesn't happen overnight but by keeping your target market in the loop on what it is you have to offer, you will come to find that business will be steadier. Keep in mind that not all marketing is foolproof. Some approaches will certainly work better than others. Depending on your specific niche you will find out quickly what model works best for you.
Do you have other forms of marketing you use as a freelancer? What works best for you? Let us know in the comments