Self Promotion – A Freelancer’s Most Important Tool
Self promotion can be hard for many new freelancers, especially if you have only recently made the jump from being a full time employee to running your own freelance business.
When you work as an employee for a company, they make sure you have work on your desk.
Every day, you come in, sit down, and complete the work they put in front of you.
More likely than not, you never have to worry about a dry spell or running out of work.
As long as you show up, you get paid.
If you’re a freelancer, though, this luxury is more of a fantasy.
The life of contractors is a lot of hustle and very little certainty. If you don’t create it, it doesn’t exist.
You know what this means:
You have to keep your schedule full.
It’s a lot of hustle, a lot of work, and a lot of self-promotion.
And it’s not something you can do halfway or part-time.
If you don’t self promote, nobody knows you exist.
As such, the best freelancers self-promote all the time.
Today, I’m here to teach you how to do it.
From nailing your brand and following a self promotion strategy, we’ll discuss how to get out of “race-to-the-bottom” situations and set yourself up to be a highly paid business consultant.
When you do it right, self promotion accelerates your network and allows you to get the most out of your current and future network.
Here’s your guide:
Step 1: Build Your Online Presence
If you don’t already have a website – you need one.
As a freelancer, your website is your “first impression” to the world.
It’s your front door, and the place people come when they want to learn more about you or find out about your brand and what you offer.
You’ve got to think about your online presence with every move you make.
So, if you don’t have a website, your first step is to create one.
Once you’ve built your website, be sure you’ve devoted some time to your social media presence, too.
You should also have profiles on all the major social media platforms (this helps you make use of the “be everywhere” mentality).
At a minimum, you’ll want to focus on the following:
If you’re not a social media guru, though, or you’re pressed for time, commit to getting the most from one platform.
If you’re only going to choose one, LinkedIn is your best bet.
As with anything else, be sure your social media is professional, updated frequently, and filled with reviews from happy clients.
When you add new client work/testimonials to your website, you ensure it doubles as a portfolio and a front page to your business.
Step 2: Build a Cohesive Brand Presence Online
Once you’ve got a website and a few social profile, it’s time to pay attention to how those sites come off to your customers.
If you want to be recognizable and attractive for customers looking for a freelancer, the first step is to create a cohesive brand presence.
That includes things like…
- Your logo
- Your color scheme
- Your brand voice
While there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do this, it’s essential to ensure that you stay consistent with whatever tone, voice, and design scheme you choose.
For an idea of how a major brand does this, take a look at HubSpot.
Not only is the color accent consistent throughout the website (figure out the hex code of the color(s) you like to ensure yours follows suit), but the tone and voice stay the same.
This contributes to a consistent, recognizable brand, no matter where it shows up on the web.
your website, social profiles, and any guest posting you do all fall into the same bucket, so it’s essential to keep yourself consistent across all platforms.
This means you can’t be locked-up and professional on your website, and then silly and out-of-left-field on your social accounts.
Make your online presence more consistent and compelling by explaining your process.
Who are you? Why do you do what you do? What’s your background?
Your website “About me” page is the perfect place for this.
Make your story engaging and truthful, and keep the tread of it going throughout your various social and digital platforms.
Step 3: Create a Marketing Strategy
One of the biggest mistakes most freelancers make is that they stop promoting themselves when their schedules are full.
This is a dangerous move.
While it might be okay to ride the wave of your previous promotional activities while you’re busy, things will eventually start to slow down, and you’ll wish you had been out there hustling the whole time.
With this in mind, keep promoting – even when your schedule is full.
If you want to do this, you’ve got to develop a marketing strategy and stick to it.
Here are a few tips:
- Make a Plan to Request Referrals: If you’re like many freelancers, you’ll find that much of your business is made up of referrals. As such, it’s smart to develop a plan to request them. Here’s one thing many freelancers do: send out follow-up forms requesting referrals after you complete a job for a client. If they were happy with your work, they’d likely be glad to pass your name along.
- Make use of Automation: Platforms like IFTTT and Zapier allow you to automate tasks between apps and set up automated processes that make following-up with clients, sending out automatic emails, and posting to social media as easy as pie.
- Figure out Processes and Templates: The more you can establish processes and templates in the beginning, the easier it will be to self-promote (without breaking your back or your schedule) down the road.
- Create Case Studies: Case studies are a powerful way to promote confidence in your users and help ensure they know what they’re getting from your services. If you’ve never written a cast study before, start by asking a happy client for their permission. From there, break down the problems they were facing, how your services helped, and the results they saw afterward. It’s that simple!
- Offer Promotions: While few freelancers think of self-promotion as an opportunity to actually offer promotions, there’s no reason you can’t. For more sales, consider offering annual promotions, coupons, or deals. The anniversary of your launch, Small Business Saturday, and the holiday season are all great times to start a promotion.
Step 4: Network Efficiently
Networking is essential to a good strategy.
With this in mind, you need to learn how to network effectively.
But what’s the first step?
If I could recommend anything I’ve found helpful, it’s to read this article by Tim Ferriss.
As a man with arguably one of the best-rounded networks in the world, Ferris has some advice to offer.
Once you’ve done that, here are a few general guidelines to stick to:
- Never Take up too Much Space in a Room:Nobody likes a blow-hard. You never know when you’re about to meet a new lead, so keep yourself attractive and ready for new interactions by being conscious of how much space you take up in a conversation. If you dominate it, chances are good the other person won’t have an opportunity to ask you what you do.
- Be Interesting by … Being Interesting: People value relationships, and it’s wise to build yours, especially as you set out to network with new leads. Ask other people lots of questions and be sure to be as friendly and approachable as possible. While it sounds like a soft approach, it’s a great way to build more leads and connections, right off the bat.
- Follow-up With Leads: Swap business cards with someone at that event last night? Don’t wait for them to follow up. Instead, take the initiative and do it yourself. Life rewards the freelancer with the plan, and going out and getting it is one of the best ways to ensure you land those jobs you want.
- Use Social Media: LinkedIn is one of the best places for freelancers to network. Use it to find companies and individuals you admire or are interested in working in and to research new opportunities.
- Join a Like-Minded Online Community: Digital Freelancer offers a 24/7 freelance networking group to help you connect with other freelancers, share opportunities, and advance careers, together. Check it out.
Step Five: Develop your USP
Your USP, or unique selling proposition, is one of the most critical aspects of your freelance career.
What makes you different? Who are you? What do you offer that nobody else does?
If you can’t answer those questions right off the top of your head, now is the time to work on it!
Part of self-promotion is knowing exactly who you are.
Figure it out now and use it to develop your USP, and you’ll be better-prepared to pitch your value to would-be customers both now and in the future.
With this in mind, identify your strengths and find a creative way to appeal to your customers emotionally and strategically.
A blog is a great place to do this. Showcase your expertise and win leads in one fell swoop.
What’s Next? Start your self promotion!
If you’re going to be a freelancer, you’ve got to get comfortable with the idea of self-promotion.
Not only is self promotion important for freelancers – it’s necessary.
With this in mind, never stop promoting.
While it’s okay to adjust your strategy as you go, you can’t afford to stop altogether.
Pay attention to the tactics you admire, find your niche and dominate it, and enjoy a steady stream of work from now on.