As a freelancer, you live and die by your ability to sell your services.
Unless you’ve got some kind of agent or marketing firm doing your marketing for you, you’ve got to be your own marketer.
By learning these essential freelancing marketing skills, you can be a natural self-promoter.
Let me first say that when I say “marketing”, I don’t mean you should be one of those pushy marketers that you see so often.
The real way to market yourself is in a natural, professional, honest manner:
- Show that you’re good, interact in a positive way.
- Find ways to let people know about your services and talents without coming on too strong.
- Let your talents sell themselves.
This gets easier as you’re more established and better known, but it can be done by anyone.
Here are the essential marketing skills for any freelancer:
In this article:
Write a blog about your industry
- The blog is the new CV.
- If you don’t have a blog, learn how to start one up.
- Make your blog look professional.
- Write about things that would look good to potential clients.
- Offer your services to others (with contact info).
If you are a designer, be sure that the design is clean and creative.
If you are a photographer, the photos should knock them out.
If you’re a writer, have only your best writing on your blog.
In all cases, have a simple, clean layout with well-written words.
If you’re not good at this yet, learn and refine.
Look at other professional blogs for inspiration, then tweak.
Then edit some more.
Not sure what to write about with a freelance blog?
Write about your projects, big or small, and anything you’ve accomplished over the last couple of weeks.
Whether it’s making a few new icons and showcasing them on your blog, or launching a client’s newly designed website, or even just some really great snippet of code or that really great wallpaper you made for yourself in Photoshop.
Your blog should showcase and talk about your work.
Posting items like the above on a regular basis will quickly show potential clients that you’re active, doing cool stuff and will give them a great feel for what sort of work they can expect from you.
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of now knowing where to begin, so just dive in and start posting.
Collaborate with other freelancers
One of the best ways to market yourself is to collaborate with others.
Instead of only working by yourself, offer your talents on a project.
If you’re a writer, offer to collaborate with other bloggers. You can reach a wider audience and develop relationships with other bloggers.
You can do the same with whatever service you offer.
Offer it up for free (or at a discounted rate) so you can develop relationships and reach a wider audience.
Add yourself to freelance listing sites and directories
Be sure that you’re on all the freelance job sites.
At least the ones that apply most to the service you offer or the market you’re aiming for.
You don’t have many words to make a pitch.
Offer a few words to differentiate yourself and a link to your blog if possible.
Get the perfect freelance business card
Don’t go with anything tacky or complicated.
Keep it simple, professional.
The fewer items on your card, the better.
All you need is your name, your service and your email address, but you can put a slogan or logo if that works for you.
Also, some have argued that the new business card is to say “Google me”.
If so, be sure that you’ve researched your Google results .
Master your email skills
This is how I do most of my marketing, in combination with the blog and collaboration ideas listed above.
I’ll email someone to see if they’re interested.
I’ll do a short pitch about myself and my services (a short paragraph) and make them an offer.
If they write back, great. If not, you can either follow up or move on to the next one.
Don’t be too pushy.
Be professional, and offer a link or two to show samples of your work.
People don’t have a lot of time to read emails, so be sure to keep it short.
Be friendly and professional.
And make them an offer they can’t refuse.
Learn to sell your freelance services in person
This is the part that many people have trouble with.
Either they are too shy or they have a tendency to overdo it.
You need to find a balance between being unafraid to talk to people and being too pushy.
If you face a fear here, don’t worry — you’re not alone.
If you go to a conference or some other event like that, face your fear by making it a challenge to talk to 20 people today.
By the time you’ve done 5-10 of them, you’ll start to get more comfortable.
Develop a short script for what you want to say, if this doesn’t come for you.
Alter it depending on people’s reactions.
But try to learn to deliver it , and be open to changing it as you go.
The script is a way for you to plan your key points.
Basically, you just want to introduce yourself, ask the person about himself, mention what you do and suggest that you work together.
If there’s interest, make a specific suggestion for how you could work together and an appointment for follow-up communication (a meeting, phone call, email, etc.).
There are many variations on this, but this is the most basic form.
Get active on social media
If you freelance in a certain field, find the places where your industry communicates.
It could be on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or a certain popular forum.
Be a participant, contribute valuable knowledge without showing off, be friendly and helpful.
You might form relationships that could pay off in the long run.
Learn how to pitch your freelance services
Learn how to pitch your freelance services, whether by email, in person, or on social media.
You need to develop the art of making a pitch that doesn’t come on too strong.
This takes practice.
The key point is to understand what the potential customer needs.
Then show how you are the perfect solution to provide that need or want.
The reasons you’re the perfect solution could be:
- a service not offered elsewhere
- added value
- your unique experience
- least hassle
- fastest completion time
Understand your clients needs and meet them. In as few words as possible, or you’ll lose them.
Learn how to close the sale for freelance projects
Once you’ve made the pitch, you could end it with a simple, “Get back to me if you’re interested.”
You might find that people will rarely end with any kind of business.
You need to have a close, make a sell.
Again, don’t be pushy about it.
Learn to make a specific offer and ask your client to take action (with a good reason to take that action).
That could be to:
- buy your services
- give you a one-time try
- work with you on a small job
- meet with you to discuss options
Whatever it is, be specific and don’t let the time be vague (don’t say “sometime next month”).
For example, say, “How about if I sketch up a design and send it to you by Wednesday?” or “Let’s give this a try: I’ll write one article for you, and if it doesn’t work out, no hard feelings. I can have it to you in two days.”
I used to make that mistake with email closes thinking I was being too pushy with anything besides “let me know if you’re interested”.
Now I leave out the “if”! I usually close emails by suggesting that we meet in person then offering a few times when I’m available.
I’ve had an extremely high success rate with this.
Make your freelance work as good as possible
This should go without saying, but your best spokesman is your product.
If your work is shoddy, people won’t continue to use you, and worse yet, your reputation will go downhill.
- Be sure to do you utmost best on every assignment
- Check your work over for mistakes
- Deliver work on time
- Communicate well with the client
- Do professional follow-ups so that the client is happy from start to finish.
If you do an outstanding job, you will continue to get business. Or even better, you’ll get recommended to others as an outstanding freelancer.