Freelancers face a number of challenges when going it alone. One of the toughest challenges is finding work and converting casual inquiries into paying clients. Even if you’re not a marketing guru or an extrovert, you can still find a myriad of subtle, yet effective marketing methods that can work behind the scenes to bring attention to your services. Rather than fight your personality, why not use it to your advantage. In a world of information overload and competing consultants clamoring for attention, the quiet and persistent approach can be a breath of fresh air for some consumers. You may be surprised at how far you can reach when you’re not using the over-the-top “look at me” methods used by most marketers.
Let your website do the marketing. It’s gotten to the point that if you don’t have you own website, or at least a portfolio, that showcases your best work and promotes your services than you may come off as less than legitimate. To save rehashing your strengths, skills and offerings repeatedly, make sure your website presents your brand with:
- A landing page that explains to potential clients what you offer.
- An engaging bio with a professional photo.
- Add your contact information.
If you’re a graphic designer or web designer consider a portfolio site in addition to a website. Check out Folio Focus for some inspired gems. If you’re a photographer, check out Hongkiat’s top-ten list of portfolio sites.
Use referral business. When it comes to referrals, word-of-mouth is your best friend. By that I mean, talk to everyone you know to get the word out about your services. Start with your present clients. What could be better than to have someone you have worked with, and trust, to refer your services to others. In todays competitive market those looking for your services may actually breathe a sigh of relief when a recommendation from someone they know comes their way. If you think about it, it saves a lot of time from doing the research and inquiries themselves. The benefit to you is that you have a potential client that’s easy to convert.
Just remember, all good things come in time, and this is especially true of referrals. Always focus on doing the best work you can. Also always ask if they know of anyone else needing your services. Don’t forget family and friends. Be sure that anyone you talk to whether it’s over the phone or email knows your service and the best way to contact you.
Get social. This is one method where done correctly can reap some benefits. You not only get to know other professionals in your expertise, but you can also join communities. With Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Linked In, sharing information and updates with others could lead to more business.
Try one-on-one networking. Not everyone is fond of conferences, big industry events and business meetings. Some simply freeze up at the sheer mention of interaction with strangers. But it’s a wise freelancer that plays to their strengths rather than working against them. You may be far more effective with direct person-to-person inquiries. Meeting for coffee or class or some other arrangement where you can speak specifically with the person making the decisions can be a far better approach. You’ll not only impress them with your initiative but you’ll also amaze them with your research and interest.
Build your brand with a blog. Having a blog on your website will draw more casual searchers and surfers to your site than anything else. That being said, blogs are mainly used to entice readers, but it’s also a credible way to build yourself as an authority within your respective field. By using target keywords and search phrases within your posts, you can increase your traffic and in turn receive higher conversion rates.
Write a blog for other websites. Blogging on other websites can easily attract a whole new audience. Not only will you receive exposure, but you can also get paid for your blogging efforts as well. Need more enticement? Include an author bio on their site that links back to your own freelance website, and you can increase traffic and potentially receive a few interested inquiries.
Opt for business cards. When you do attend a large seminar, conference or meeting, bring business cards with you. And not the standard, run-of-the-mill, printed from your computer type of business cards, I’m talking about the ones that are well-designed on high-quality card stock. The added investment is well worth it. Just be sure before you leave any event, that you’ve exchanged business cards with key people. Also, be sure to follow-up within the next week by dropping an email or a quick call. Follow-ups can lead to online networking, and hopefully, the beginning of a good working relationship.
Share your thoughts. What subtle marketing techniques have helped you along the way?