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So You Want to Be a Freelancer?

When you want to learn to freelance, you need to know how to market yourself as a freelancer. While singing your own praises and putting yourself out there may seem daunting, it’s the only way to draw attention towards your freelancing business. 

In order to know how to market yourself as a freelancer, you need to understand yourself, your business, and your audience. From there, you need to delve into the world of self-promotion.

Figure out what your unique selling points are

If you’re new to freelancing, take a look at those who act as leaders in your industry and see what their unique selling points are. For some, it’s simply their voice; especially if they’re a freelance writer. For others, it’s their ability to produce quirky results for clients who want a unique brand identity.

After figuring out what’s already popular in your industry, take a look at yourself and see what your unique selling points are. They could include your experience in the physical working world, academic qualifications, or particular tools you use. Whatever your USPs, you should make a note of them, because they will help you build your brand identity.

Understand your target audience and market towards them

After determining your USPs, you need to consider your audience. Think about who they are, why they need your services, and how you’ll meet their needs. Once you understand your audience and how they’re relevant to your freelancing goals, you can begin building your brand around them.

If you’re struggling to define your target audience, think about the niche you want to work in. Is it one that you’re passionate about? Or is it one that you have a natural flair for? Or, you could use a mix of the two. Whatever approach you take, consider how your USPs will work well for prospective clients. 

If you’re still struggling to define your audience, don’t feel afraid to jump into the general pool. Part of figuring out how to market yourself as a freelancer means identifying the projects you love working on. Once you find those that spark your creative passion, you can market yourself accordingly. 

Make sure you have a freelancing website, with consistent branding

No freelancer can exist without a decent website, especially if they want to thrive in their industry. However, creating one ad-hoc without considering your branding will prevent you from standing out from the crowd. 

To create your brand identity, you can take a few approaches:

  • Look at the colours, fonts, and graphics that work for high-ranking sites in your industry. While you shouldn’t copy them entirely, they can act as a good source of inspiration.
  • If you do have a target audience in mind, return to them and think about branding that might appeal to them. If you’re looking for inspiration, try creating private boards on Pinterest and return to the images you save when you’re ready to develop your band further.
  • If all else fails, turn to a graphics designer. In some instances, this does mean delving into your freelance marketing budget. But, as design experts, they can help you develop a brand identity that resonates throughout your site.

Once you get a feel for how your branding will work, use it consistently. Add it to your website, business cards, and social media profiles. With consistency comes recognition, which then instils a sense of trust in prospective clients. 

Blog about your freelancing exploits

One of the most cost-effective forms of marketing is organic traffic. Whether you’re an excellent writer, sub-par, or you plan to hire one, giving others an insight into your business will draw visitors towards your site. If said visitors feel like you’re a good match for their business, they’ll reach out to you and ask to use your services.

While you learn to freelance, you’ll grow to understand that injecting some personality into your work makes you stand out far more than mimicking the crowd. So, don’t feel afraid to share your struggles and personal exploits; they can make for endearing tales that entice others towards hiring you.

Finally, recognise that consistency is key if you blog. You don’t have to write on a daily basis, especially if doing so detracts from your usual business activities. However, you should set a weekly or bi-weekly target, especially if you want to build an audience who’s likely to share your posts. 

Use external marketing methods

From the services you’re offering to the blog posts you write, creating a website is almost pointless when you don’t use external marketing methods. Social media is always a great place to start, but try to avoid using every site at once. Consider whether Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn will work well for you, focus on it, and analyse the results. If you’re struggling to build a social media following, try turning to another site.

Social media aside, paying for an audience is worth the efforts if you take a careful approach and analyse your returns. Many people who want to learn how to market as a freelancer find that Facebook’s targeted advertising works well. Unlike many other sites, it allows you to narrow your audience until it’s tightly refined. 

Similarly, you can consider Pay Per Click ads via large search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Some offer vouchers to new freelancers marketing their websites, giving you the chance to determine whether the keywords you’re targeting and the ads you’re writing are effective. To make sure you don’t end up overspending on expensive keywords, look into those that are longer and see if they can help you maximise your budget.

Don’t be afraid to give away freebies, on your terms

While you learn to freelance, you might find that giving away freebies helps you gain clients. Now, that doesn’t mean you should work for free. Instead, consider what you’re good at and create free PDFs, ebooks, tutorials, or webinars. 

While generating such freebies might seem time-consuming, if they catch the eye of your target audience they can convert users and readers into clients. Depending on how confident you feel, you may even want to use methods such as YouTube and podcasts, particularly if you are an expert in your freelancing field.

Again, after creating a freebie, don’t leave it lingering without any promotion. Advertise it on your site and consider only allowing others to access it if they sign up for a newsletter. Promote it to your followers, or tell them they can have it if they follow you, click like, or share a post with your friends. If they find your material particularly useful, they may share it with others, broadening your audience further.

Try networking, both online and offline

Even if LinkedIn seems like a scary place, if you want to know how to market as a freelancer, it’s worth experimenting with. Create a profile slowly, highlighting your best talents and the achievements you feel most proud of. Once you gain clients, ask to connect with them and you’ll become more obvious to their network too. You can also use LinkedIn to blog, and if your blog proves particularly useful, it’ll gain plenty of attention and drive traffic to your business’s site.

While a lot of freelance marketing involves working online, don’t ignore trade shows and other networking opportunities. Building connections within your industry, especially when you need to learn to freelance, allows you to learn from others.

Knowing how to market as a freelancer isn’t always challenging. By taking a steady approach and analyzing your results, you’ll develop methods that prove successful and snag the high-paying clients you need.

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