How to promote yourself as a freelancer
So you’ve kissed goodbye to that office desk and said hello to a life of laptops on the beach? Welcome to the World of Freelancing. You are now master of your own destiny, the captain of your ship, able to take on the World from the comfort of your favourite pyjamas!
Yes, this is the stuff that dreams are made of. But you will soon realise that even dreams have their downsides and the responsibilities of a freelancer spread further than you would initially think.
You can provide a service but the person advertising this and bringing in that coveted new work? Yes, that person is now also you. The idea of promoting yourself can intimidate even the most confident of freelancers. Don’t know where to start? Here are some pointers…
Never Stop Networking
Networking is the invisible driver behind all new work, the way to let people out there know what you do and create the ripples of interest that will lead to projects.
1. Speak to your friends, your family and everyone in between about what you do.
It may seem pointless telling your mother’s sister’s cousin’s uncle’s ex-roommate, but the truth is you never know what work may come from the Network you already have. Explaining to those in your circle about what you do could lead to surprising work and, at the very least, you can use it as an opportunity to practice the pitch you will be giving to prospective clients.
2. Create partnerships with other freelancers in complimentary careers.
By actively building relationships with people who work in the same industry you are more likely to hear about upcoming projects and potential leads. If those people are not competitors they may be able to connect you with existing clients on the understanding you do the same, e.g. a film director and a sound engineer, a blogger and a graphic designer.
3. Follow prospective clients and companies of interest in the news.
When something newsworthy has happened and they have gained new work, use it as an opportunity to contact them to explain how your services could help.
4. Go to Industry Events and Conferences.
While these can sometimes be expensive, pick the right one and you are exposed to a huge amount of potential clients to network with.
5. Ask for referrals from happy clients.
The best response rates from contacting prospective clients will come if they are accompanied by a referral from a mutual friend or colleague so when a project goes well, don’t be afraid to ask for one.
Get Social Media Savvy
Social Media is not just for selfies and style icons. Freelancers from all disciplines are using social platforms more and more for networking, advertising and getting work.
1. Get yourself a plan, Batman.
Every social media publication by a freelancer should be part of a well thought out plan, scheduling regular posts on multiple platforms.
Create a weekly schedule with all the content you are hoping to circulate. Once the publications are ready, use a programme like Hootsuite to schedule every, single post. This will mean you don’t have to manage this during your working week and can instead concentrate on your business.
2. What shall I publish?
When it comes to social media, quality content is key. Show off your area of expertise with blogs and posts published on a weekly basis. Content can include:
- Interesting news and developments in your sector.
- Tips and advice demonstrating your skills.
- Quality photographs relating to your business and designed to encourage interaction.
Whatever the topic, always bring the posts back to what service you can offer as a freelancer.
3. Where to publish?
FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn… nowadays there are an endless stream of possibilities. Pick the ones most relevant to your service and commit to posting regularly. For instance, a textile designer may be better suited to Instagram, while a blogger may prefer Twitter. Better to have few accounts that are live than if you over-stretch yourself and lose track.
4. Make sure to keep consistency across all platforms.
With so many different platforms worth using, this can become difficult but it is important to keep a clear message to the clients of the exact service you are offering. Small touches like keeping your profile picture consistent can also contribute to this.
Craft your Image
You may think creating an image is the stuff of celebrity but you should think of your freelance business as a brand. You want your brand to come across as professional and give the impression that you are good at what you do. There are some easy ways to do this…
1. Get yourself a domain.
While Gmail and Hotmail are great functionally, using a website and email address including your business or own name shows investment. If you’re prepared to invest in what you do, then clients are more likely to.
2. Get yourself some business cards.
There are hundreds of cheap and easy websites where you can create business cards for as little as the price of delivery. Having these handy at events is an easy way to hand over your contact details without too much fuss and gives an air of professionalism.
3. Get yourself a logo.
This is an easy one for all the designers out there, but for the less creative freelancer you can always arrange a skill swap. Perhaps a writer could offer some copy, in exchange for a logo?
Use this everywhere - on your email signature, on your website, on your invoice… On the free invoicing app Albert there is a function that allows you to upload your logo with ease; your client will receive an email with your beautiful logo. This means you can create professional looking, branded invoices on the go straight from your iPhone, enabling you to get your paperwork to your client quickly.
Put in the Hours
Know that your actions will gain momentum. You may at first feel like your promotion work is made up of a series of disjointed activities but they will gain momentum and lead to work, real work. So roll up your sleeves and get promoting, you will be on that beach with your laptop in no time!