It can be tough at times for freelancers, especially those new to it all, when the number of clients they have requesting work are small. One can begin to get worried and worked up about how they’ll pay the bills, and get through the year, but don’t fret, just get your marketing hat on and follow the 10 points below to see instant results.
1. Business Cards
The most obvious of all marketing tools is arguably the business card, and it becomes ever so important for freelancers. Usually, a basic, poorly-designed business card gets little attention and is simply thrown away by the receiver, but make an impression on the receiver at their first glance and you’re well on your way to scoring a client.
Now, I’m not saying you need to go as crazy as some of the business cards above, but if you’re currently stuck with a plain, boring business card, then try to spruce it up a bit to catch more attention.
Distribution is more important than design, so pass around cards to all your family and friends and ask them to pass them around to anyone who they think may be interested in your services.
Many freelancers forget that their existing client base may have additional work that needs completing, but have probably forgotten about you. The best way to keep yourself fresh in the mind of your clients is to send out a monthly newsletter via email, detailing case studies of recent work, and a showcase. You can also send out the newsletter via (snail) mail if you want too, as email is becoming less and less reliable nowadays.
By sending out a monthly newsletter, you’re showing a level of interactivity between yourself and your clients, and this helps to build up good, healthy links between you and your clients (which is definitely necessary in the freelance business).
3. Small Discounts
Discounts may seem a little gimmicky and out of place in the world of freelancing, but offering a small discount to new clients can really be a way of getting them to accept your proposal.
Existing clients should be returning to you on the basis of the quality of service they received in the past, so I do not recommend offering discounts to an existing client, unless they’re considering you again and you’re trying to tip them in your favour.
4. Word of Mouth
The most effective marketing tool hands down in word of mouth. Human psychology is such that we put trust in those closest to us, such as our family and friends, and therefore we seriously consider a choice that such a person presents to us. For example, if your uncle recommends a good plumber that they had commissioned in the past to do some work for them, you’re more likely to hire them to fix that darn toilet in the attic than if you saw an ad for a plumber in the Yellow Pages.
The best way to get referrals and recommendations is to simply astound the client with your quality of work. Produce all work to the best of your ability, on time (or even before a deadline!) and at a good price, and the client will definitely return back to you if they need any more work done.
Probably the hardest to achieve, publicity in the local newspaper could prove very lucrative for your freelance business. However, because of its difficulty, it’s good to try alternatives to get yourself noticed in your industry. Try guest posting on popular industry blogs to get yourself noticed, just make sure you have a nice, short, well-rounded bio with a link to your portfolio on the blog! The more popular your posts are, the more recognition you’ll get from the blog’s community.
You could also try running a blog of your own, but it requires extreme dedication and consistency with content produced on a regularly basis to become successful. If you’re not up for running your own blog, guest posting is definitely for you.
6. Participate in Communities
Online and offline communities exist for every niche and hobby on this planet. Anything from sewing to bird watching has a community of some kind that you can get involved in, and it’s no different when your freelancing. There are an absolute ton of online forums and websites which you can contribute to and interact with other people on which can help you build credibility both online and offline. You could try joining your local Chamber of Commerce, a great start in getting involved in the business sector in general in your area.
Online, you could try joining popular, related forums. For example, if you’re a freelance web designer, you could join the SitePoint community.
7. Social Media is Your Friend
With the advent of social media, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the thousands of other social networking websites are hard to get away from. Use them to your advantage by interacting with people who have similar interests, and make it obviously through profile settings and conversation topic that you’re an established freelancer in your field. You’ll never know when the opportunity will arise for new work, or business ventures, so it’s worth getting involved in the various specific-interest groups available on each social media platform. I do warn you however, it can prove to be addictive though .
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to exposure yourself in such a diluted and ‘spammed’ environment where everyone has the same goals of you and is trying to do the same thing as you. Think about something that will set you apart from your competition, your USP (unique selling point), and be consistent with your marketing efforts and you’ll soon become an industry leader and be flooded with new and exciting projects from clients who are dying to do business with you.
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