The Freelancer’s Guide to Self-Promotion

freelancing and self-promotion

You’ll have elected to make the transition to freelancing because you have enough confidence in your abilities to believe you can make a living. But you’ll quickly come to realise something: your ability to do whatever skill it is you’re selling is only half the battle. The other half is all related to the business side of things, such as making sure that people know that you’re there and available for hire. Even if you have no background in marketing and it’s not something that you’re usually interested in, if you want to be a successful freelancer, then it’s something you’ll need to manage. But how should you go about self-promotion as a freelancer? We take a look at some tried and tested tips below.

Understand Self-Marketing

First thing’s first: you need to have an idea of what marketing actually is, and – perhaps just as importantly – how crucial it is to the long term success of your freelance career. One way to do this is to take a look at how other people in your field are promoting themselves and their services; this tactic actually works on multiple levels. First, you get an insight into self-promotion overall. Second, you get to understand the mistakes they’ve made. In all likelihood, you’ve never really analysed a marketing tactic before; once you do, you quickly begin to differentiate the good from the bad. You’ll be able to ensure that you’re on the right path.

Who Are You Marketing Yourself To?

It’s important to keep in mind that marketing isn’t the same across all platforms and demographics. In order to master the art of self-promotion, you first need to figure out who it is you’re trying to market your freelance business to. This will help direct the type of imagery, language, and content that you use. You wouldn’t use the same type of speech for, say, marketing to schools as you would marketing to a brewery. If it gets more specific than that, then you’ll need to dive deep into your market research. This will provide a clear overview of the types of companies and people you’re targeting with your freelance business, what their values are, how much money they have, and so on – at the end of your research, you should have a pretty robust idea of the types of self-marketing approaches that will work.

Promote Yourself With Your Story

There’s no getting around the fact that big companies have many advantages over the smaller guys trying to muscle in on their turf. But there are some things that the big companies can’t replicate, which you can play up: your story. You’ve been on a journey to where you are now, and it’s one worth telling. In the process, you’ll be telling your potential customers multiple things. First, that you’re a human, rather than a faceless corporation (and you shouldn’t underestimate how important that can be). Second, you’ll be showing why you’re qualified to do the job that they need. You won’t have just fallen into where you are now – there have been years of build-up, hard work, experience, and more leading up to this moment.

Remaining Professional is Key to Self-Promotion

A common downside isn’t that potential customers don’t take small ventures seriously; it’s that freelancers very often don’t take their own work seriously, or they have confidence issues and doubts. While it’s fine to have those thoughts privately, you’ll want to present a confident, robust front to the public. To do this, make sure your professionalism is watertight. That means having a well-designed, error-free website, presenting yourself well, and making sure all of your marketing materials are on point. Your level of professionalism is one thing that many freelancers overlook, but it provides a crucial cornerstone for your self-promotion strategies, which will only be undermined if you don’t have a level of seriousness.

Online Basics

The internet is going to be your primary platform for your self-promotion. The fantastic thing about the web is that it’s more or less a level playing field (well, perhaps less so than what it used to be, but it’s still pretty good in this regard). You have access to all the same social media platforms as the bigger companies – it’s just up to you to get it right. One mistake that many freelancers make when it comes to their self-promotion is putting too much energy into their social media pages, and not enough into their website. Yes, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all important, but they’re not as important as your website. As such, make sure that your posts and general set up of your social media channels point people towards your site. There’s little value in having 10,000 Instagram followers if no-one is visiting your personal page.

Dedicate Your Time to Self-Promotion

It’s true that you might not want to spend your time marketing your freelance business. You’d rather be doing your job, especially if it’s a creative position where it really pays to dive into the work. But as we said earlier, marketing isn’t something extra – when you’re a freelancer, it’s an integral part of the job. As such, you’ll benefit from setting aside some hours each week to developing your self-marketing approach. Don’t just think about it when it pops up in your mind: make it a part of your routine.

Find Your Authentic Voice

In five years, you’ll look back at your first self-marketing posts and campaigns, and you won’t recognise them as coming from you. Over time, you’ll slowly begin to find your online voice, your own style. Don’t worry about it too much in the beginning, but it is worth keeping an eye to see if there are any recurring themes and styles that keep popping up. They could become part of your personal branding. Part of this will also include figuring out what works and what doesn’t, which is vitally important when it comes to any marketing campaign.

Tools for Self-Promotion

You might have an intuitive understanding of what works and what doesn’t, marketing-wise, but when it comes to the success of your freelancing career, you’ll need to rely on more than intuition. You need the data that tells you what is working, and what should be avoided in the future. So how can you do this when it comes to your self-marketing strategies? Well, there are tools that enable you to effectively manage them. With that tool in your arsenal, you’ll know where you should continue to invest your time and energy, and the marketing tactics that should be consigned to history.

Attending Trade Shows

If only there were a way to gather thousands of people who already have at least a passing interest in what you’re offering. Well, there is – they’re called trade shows. No matter what industry you’re in, there’ll be large events taking place each year, somewhere in the country. So make sure you’re heading down with something to say. We talk a lot about digital marketing, but the truth is that face-to-face marketing, which is what you’ll find at trade shows, is still remarkably effective.

In-Person Self-Promotion

And talking of face-to-face marketing, you should keep in mind that there are frequent opportunities for self-promotion in the real world. While you don’t want to forever promote yourself as a freelancer at parties, you should be ready to talk about what you offer when it comes up in conversation. Just think of all the people you meet as you just go through life – surely, one of them will eventually have a need for a person with your skills one day. Carrying a business card is also recommended – actually, business cards might be somewhat underrated. People seem to think that it’s all digital now, but don’t forget that people who use the internet are the same people you bump into in the real world.

Showcase Your Expertise

You know that you can do any job that comes your way, but how do other people know that? If you’re a creative industry then, sure, you can show them your portfolio, but what if you’re not? Then, you’ll need to confirm your expertise in other ways. One way to do is to share your knowledge through podcasts, blogs, and social media posts. If you can become an authority on issues related to your industry, then that’s going to work in your favour in the long term. To reach a larger audience, take a look at guest blogging for other sites – it’ll expose you, and your expertise, to a whole new set of potential clients who may otherwise have never heard of it.

Ask for Reviews

It’s fine to tell the world how good you are, but the truth, which they will know, is that you have a vested interest in having people believe that you’re good. Instead, it’s better to get other people to spread the good word. Ask for reviews from your earlier, happy clients, and make sure you’re showcasing them on your site and social media channels.

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