9 Often Overlooked Ways to Market Your Freelance Business

9 Often Overlooked Ways to Market Your Freelance Business

Marketing your freelance business can often be frustrating. You’re already busy trying to make ends meet, and it just seems like there’s not enough time to do everything you know you need to do.

There’s no “magic formula” to making marketing easy – you just have to do it. But lucky for you, there are simple, often-overlooked techniques you can use that take just minutes to put into practice.

Here are 9 of them. Have you tried everything on this list?

Your Email Signature

This marketing tactic is deceptively simple but definitely one that’s most commonly overlooked. I ignored it myself, initially. But once I set up a great email signature, guess what happened?

I had a new client in less than a week.

In your email settings, find the section where you can add an email signature and set one up. Include your name, your profession, your website, your phone number and the link to your preferred social media profiles.  If your business has a tag line, include that too.

Yes, even on your personal email account as well.

Don’t forget that most forums have a “signature” option as well.  For any forum profile or account you have, use this feature. Every time you post a message, you’ll be marketing easily.

Without even thinking about it.

Your About Page

Most About pages make big assumptions that your readers know who you are and what you do. It’s easy to overlook what seems obvious to you.

It’s rarely obvious to new visitors on your site.

So edit your About page and add that you’re a freelancer for hire. Mention your speciality, how long you’ve been freelancing (if you’ve been doing it for more than two years), what kind of clients you work with, and why you’re qualified for the job.

Don’t just assume that your reader knows you’re looking for clients – make it completely 100% obvious you’re available for hire.

Your Hire Me Page

On your About page, you told readers you’re looking for clients.  On your Hire Me page, you explicitly ask for the sale.

Sometimes clients need that extra little step in order to make the hiring decision. So include specifics about your services and tell people what they’ll get from you.

And like any other sales page, state how you can help your client’s business. Show how you’ve helped other clients succeed, the results you can bring, and include testimonials – the whole shebang.

Your Hire Me page is also a good place to mention important working terms and conditions.  You may want to limit it to the most important three points though, because you don’t want to look difficult to work with or scare clients off.

Lastly, make sure there’s an easy way to contact you on that page.  Web forms (like Gravity Forms) are great for this.

Your Portfolio

Sure, you have a few clients under your belt, but are you showing prospective clients that work up front?

Prospective clients naturally love to see samples of your work. Personally, I love portfolios because they often speak for themselves. It’s also easy to send potential clients a link to your portfolio.

You can create a portfolio on your own website with links to your work, or you can use a service like contently.com. It picks up the images from your published work, including an excerpt, and displays it on your own unique portfolio page.

The result is a professional and visually appealing portfolio.

Wait a minute!  You’re just starting out? Got nothing to show?  That’s fine!  You can still create your own portfolio by doing some mock-ups of your own. A portfolio shows what you can do – it doesn’t just have to show what you’ve been paid to do!

Your Personal Network

Your friends and family already know that you have a freelance business.  But they may have no idea what you actually do until you explain it to them – and once they know, they can be your best referral network ever.

Send a short email to your friends and family—including your mom. Tell them about your freelance business and go into detail about what you do. Tell them what type of work you’re looking for.  Show them you’re serious by giving them examples of your work.

Then ask them to refer you to anyone in their circle who might be looking for a freelancer like you. They will – these people want you to succeed!

Your Social Media Profiles

How long has it been since you updated your profiles?  Yeah, I don’t think about that often either.  But social media profiles do get outdated and often need refreshing.

So make sure your social media profiles are completely up to date and clearly state you’re a freelancer for hire.  Update your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+ profiles – keep going until you’ve updated every account you have.

And don’t just update them with pretty words – link to your website, blog, portfolio or any other relevant pages that help get you hired. (A well-written Hire Me page would work fantastically!)

Your Client Search

Searching through job boards or help-wanted ads can turn up new clients quickly. Set a timer for 15 minutes each day and browse through ads, applying to ones that interest you. My personal favourites are FreelanceSwitch and Problogger. If you’re in a pinch, you can also try Craigslist.

But be careful – job board searches can take those minutes and stretch them into hours easily. You don’t always have that kind of time on your hands.

An alternative is to set up a Google Alert to email you updates revolving around a keyword or phrase that you’re interested in and that relates to what you offer.  You can limit your search to a single site (which is helpful for open job boards) or search the entire internet, if you’d like.

Your Local Queries

Yes, local means actual brick-and-mortar businesses and companies in your area.  It’s obvious – your potential clients could be just down the street!

But they can’t hire you unless they know you’re available, right?

So introduce yourself. Start with your immediate neighbourhood. Use Foursquare and find out the businesses listed in your neighbourhood. Go to their website, look up the required information and walk through their doors with a smile and a business card.

If this idea gives you the willies, send them a simple email. Tell them about yourself, including who you are and what you do (link to your portfolio!). In-person contact is great, but emails often work just as well.

Your Referrals

We all know that the best marketing is word of mouth.  Have you asked your customers to tell others about you?

Contact clients who are extremely happy with your work and ask if they’d be willing to refer you to anyone looking to hire a freelancer. As a perk, you could even offer a referral discount or bonus to encourage your clients.

At the very least, this request gives you the opportunity to ask how your client is doing and if he needs any work from you. You might be surprised to hear yes!

Fly Your Freelancer Flag High

No one can know about your freelance business unless you tell them.  And telling people about your business is marketing. You don’t need a big campaign or a time-consuming strategy.

You just need to hustle a little.

Start telling people you’re for hire. Don’t be ashamed of it. Stand on top of the Empire State Building and shout it out!

Or make sure you’ve tried each of these nine tips and have each one announce it to the world for you.

Post by James Chartrand

The concept for this post was originally submitted by Samar Owais and was jointly contributed to by in-house blogger and editor Kari Wolfe, James Chartrand and Samar herself. Thanks to all involved!

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Dear James : Freelance Business does not depend on the word of mouth any longer. People needs to see what is happening by image. This , does not mean that I do deny what you said that the “word of mouth is strong in any marketing strategy”.

    Ntarugera

    • Word of mouth marketing only picks up when you have worked for a few clients. The ways in this post will help you get to that point.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Good points about referrals and about making sure everyone in your network knows you’re “for hire.’ One often overlooked source of work is to follow up with clients you’ve worked with in the past, but haven’t written for in a while. Take a look at their business. Suggest ways your services can boost their bottom line or make their lives easier.

    “Do you need any freelance work?” No.
    vs.
    “I see that your website doesn’t capture the emails of visitors. Have you thought about producing a monthly newsletter, so you won’t miss these opportunities to sell more of your product? Why let those visitors disappear forever, when you can sell to them every month?” Hmmm… hadn’t thought of that.

    I’ve had more success offering solutions than I ever did peddling services. What problems can you solve? Go for it.

    • Excellent tip, Jesse!

      Old clients are a really good source of work. They’re what I call warm leads. They’ve already worked with you and know how good you are.

      Often, it’s just a matter of appearing back on their radar for them to hire you.

  3. Thanks for sharing James,

    Another tip with craigslist is to set up an RSS reader so you can get alerts automatically. This helps screen out the low quality gigs.

    • That’s a good tip Jacko. Personally, it still became a time suck for me. The number of people posting writing and editing gigs on Craigslist is staggering! It would be good news of most of them weren’t low paying ones.

      In a pinch though, Craigslist is a good place to start. As long as you do other marketing activities too.

  4. Fantastic list, James! I love your common-sense–but very thorough and professional–approach to business. The two that I want to move to a higher priority in 2013 are “Your Client Search” and “Your Local Queries” — it wouldn’t take a very high response rate from just those two things alone to make a difference in a year’s income.

    Thank you, and I send heartspoken wishes to you and yours for a blessed holiday season and a happy, healthy new year.

  5. Yep! Well said all of you!

    Thanks for the networking reminder!

  6. When it came to this part of the post James . . .

    “Wait a minute! You’re just starting out? Got nothing to show? That’s fine! You can still create your own portfolio by doing some mock-ups of your own. A portfolio shows what you can do – it doesn’t just have to show what you’ve been paid to do!”

    . . . I remembered how portfolios aren’t always you’re best friend. I think they’re good in that they demonstrate you know how to structure a piece but clients may see unique angles you took, perhaps with a salesletter that was edgy, or vice versa, one that was plain Jane and think to themselves, “Oh, this person is definitely not for me.”

    But if instead, when a highly qualified client asked for a portfolio, you made them aware that you don’t do this because all of your work is tailor made to suit each client’s specific taste and instead you offered to do them a mock up JUST FOR THEM, then you could customize a show piece that spoke directly to their self interest in the style they’ve told you they prefer.

    To me, this is an overlooked tactic that completely eviscerates the possibility that a client might type cast you and instead helps them see that indeed, you are perfect for them. :)

  7. If you have a blog (which also serves as your online portfolio) just like Men With Pens, then providing quality content for free through the blog posts will also attract potential clients. This is also a way to strut your stuff and show them that you really know what you’re doing.

    • Jovell – That’s very true. More than my own blog, I’ve found that guest posting works really well too. Letting clients know that my work has appeared on Technorati 100 blog sure is impressive :D

      The best part? Guest posting on popular blogs in not difficult at all. Most of them have a “Write for us” page.

      • Hi Samar,

        Thanks for letting me know that. I’ve been contemplating on a guest posting plan for sometime now. But I still have that “fear” that it may be hard for my submissions to be accepted. I’m really hoping it won’t be too hard :)

        • Hey Jovell,

          What do you have to lose? What’s the worst that can happen?

          Worst case scenerio: you’ll be where you are now. Worth the “risk,” in my book. :)

          Go for it!

          • Hi Jesse,

            Thanks for the support! Yup, you’re 100% right. I won’t be able to achieve my goals if I don’t make the move. And you know what? I’m flattered that you took the time to reply to my comment. Thanks again!

            • I have to second Jesse. Best case scenario: You’ll gain experience, a larger audience and rub shoulders with some experienced bloggers. Worst case scenario: You’ll still be where you are – with the added benefit of knowing what not to do next time you pitch a blog a guest post.

              It’s a win-win situation :)

              Start with smaller blogs and grow from there.

              • Thanks Samar! It does not sound so hard anymore. The only thing left is to do it and not just read or think about it. Thanks so much :)

              • Dear Jovell : You have been chose just because not only you are your way of saying things is too concise but also accurate I found it . I will always remember this ‘ The only thing left is to do it and not just read or think about it ‘.

                Ntarugera François

  8. What I like about portfolios is that a good portfolio speaks for itself.

    Sure, it might not have what the prospective client is looking for, but if you include diverse enough clips, they’re bound to be intrigued by your work.

    I love your idea about doing a mock up tailor made for the prospective client. That’s a great way to get work in the beginning! Sure it’s extra work that you might not be paid for, but think about the benefits if you get hired.

    Thanks for the tip!

  9. Ha! I thought I was doing all of these things, and I AM. . . . I’m just not doing them effectively :/

    I have all of these things in place, but my message isn’t clear and consistent across all platforms. It’s not obvious that I’m for hire.

    But at least I don’t have to start from scratch.

    Thanks!

    • You’re way ahead of the general freelance population if you have all of these things in place.

      It’ll only take a few steps to clear out the confusion in your message and then you’ll be well on your way.

      I’d say, start with your about page, then tackle your email signature and move down the list from there when scripting a new, clearer message.

      Hope this helps!

  10. This is wonderful information! But for some strange feeling I don’t see James searching through craiglist for work. I could be wrong and know its a lot of hustle, but really craiglist!?!? I have to know if this is true or not?

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  1. [...] 9 Often Overlooked Ways to Market Your Freelance Business – There’s no “magic formula” to making marketing easy – you just have to do it. But lucky for you, there are simple, often-overlooked techniques you can use that take just minutes to put into practice. [...]

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