In the last year and a half, many of us have found ourselves looking for a change in our work situations. Whether you got laid off from a job or you’re tired of dealing with unreasonable customers, you may have decided to strike out on your own. Freelancing can provide some amazing opportunities, but it can also be tough to get your business off the ground.
There are several things you can do to grow your business when you’re getting started as a freelancer. Read on to discover some of the best marketing tips that will help you build a thriving business the smart way.
When you’re trying to get your freelance business off the ground, social media is one of the best tools you have available to you. Nearly 70 percent of American adults have a Facebook page, and another 40 percent use Instagram. You can reach a huge segment of your target market through just a few websites.
Set up social media profiles and start building an active presence on them. Post relevant content for your audience on a regular basis, and make sure you’re posting plenty of original content. It’s also a good idea to take advantage of the affordable advertising available through social media to grow your customer base.
Having strong social media profiles is important, but you need somewhere to link to from those social media pages. Building a website gives customers a place to go to learn more about your business. It can also be a center for original content, as well as reinforcing your branding and improving your reputation.
Your website needs to be beautiful, but it should also be easy for customers to navigate. You need to make sure you keep load times low, as about 40 percent of customers will abandon a web page that takes more than two seconds to load. And make sure you make it easy for customers to find the information they’re looking for on your site, especially your contact information.
Having a website is a great start, but it doesn’t do you much good if no new customers can find it. There are nearly two billion websites online as of this writing, which means that if you visited one site every second, it would take you more than sixty years to see them all. You need to make your website stand out from the crowd if you hope to bring in new customers.
Search engine optimization can be a great way to get your site to the top of search result rankings and improve your site traffic. Some website platforms, such as WordPress, have plugins that you can use to make sure your site is search engine optimized. The rules of SEO change every day, so be sure to stay up to date on them so you can keep your site at the top of search engine listings.
One great way to improve your SEO and create content to post to your social media pages is to start a blog. When you post a new blog every week, you create more opportunities to use high-traffic keywords and to hit common search engine queries. You can also cross-post those blog posts to social media and use them to fuel your content on those pages.
Make sure to write about topics that your clients will find valuable, including giving insider tips. Not only will this keep readers coming back to your site for more, but you’ll establish yourself as an expert in the industry. And once people find their way to your site to read a blog post, you have additional opportunities to draw them into the rest of your sales funnel.
Another fantastic way to get your site up in search engine rankings is to request reviews from customers. For one thing, search engines tend to rank sites that have a lot of customer feedback more highly than sites that have none. But getting this feedback can also help you to improve your customer service.
Once you wrap up a project with a client, ask them if they would mind leaving a review on your website. Be sure to display these where customers can find them, and be transparent about the reviews you’re getting. If customers see you have 400 five-star reviews and three one-star reviews, they’ll be more likely to trust that your service is genuinely good than if you only show ten five-star reviews.
In addition to social media, email marketing can be a great way to connect with your existing customers. You can keep them up to date on what’s happening with your business and keep your name present in their mind if someone they know happens to need your services. And unlike social media, you can deliver your message directly to customers, rather than flinging a message into the void and hoping for the best.
Gather an email list of previous customers and start sending out a weekly or monthly newsletter. Include links back to your blog posts, write updates about what’s happening in your business, and highlight customer projects that are available to the public. Make sure you include a signup form on your website so potential customers can start receiving your newsletter and learn more about your business.
You can tell people all day long that you’re good at your job, but there’s nothing like a good object lesson to drive that point home. Having an online portfolio can be a great way to show customers just what you can do. This is especially important if you work in a visual or artistic field, such as graphic design, photography, and so on.
As you finish client projects, ask them if you can display a portion of them in your online portfolio. Make sure to include personal projects that showcase your capabilities as well. This can be a great way to fill out your portfolio when you’re just beginning your freelance career and projects are still thin on the ground.
One of the best ways you can bring in new customers is to wow your current customers. People who have business in your industry will likely have friends and colleagues who are involved in similar projects. The more of a reputation you can build in this industry, the more you’ll find customers coming to you with projects.
As much as possible, try to blow your customers out of the water with the quality and service you provide. This doesn’t mean you have to work yourself to death or submit to customers who are being unreasonable. Just make sure to respond promptly to messages, try to solve problems as soon as they arise (or before they ever happen), and take little opportunities to go the extra mile for your customers.
Once you’ve impressed your current customers, you can start making that investment work for you. Ask customers who have had good experiences with you to refer any friends they may know who are looking for services similar to yours. Getting your foot in the door with a community like that can help you start to build a reputation in your industry.
If you do get a referral from a former customer, always make sure to let them know how grateful you are for the recommendation. At the least, send a personal email, but ideally send them a hand-written note if you have their address. You may also consider offering some sort of incentive for customers who refer new clients, especially if you have an ongoing service agreement.
In the freelance world, it can be easy to get the impression that you have to wait for work to come to you in order to succeed. And ideally, once you get your career established, you should have customers lining up outside your door to use your services. But at the beginning, there’s nothing wrong with asking for work.
Find a company or individual who you know frequently has projects that fall within your area of expertise. Send an email to an appropriate contact person introducing yourself and letting them know what sort of work you do. Be sure to include a sample of your portfolio, a link to your website, and a way for them to contact you if they’re interested in working with you.
In some cases, you may know about a specific project that would fit your area of expertise and that’s up for grabs. Applying for these gigs can be a great way to introduce yourself to a new company and to get more freelance work. But you can’t send in a one-size-fits-all application and expect to get the job.
Make sure you customize your pitches for each new job you apply to work on. This certainly means adjusting your cover letter, updating your portfolio to include relevant projects, and addressing any specific questions they mentioned in their job listing. It may also mean tweaking your resume or even making a custom landing page on your website that highlights why you’re the perfect choice for the job.
A lot of times, you may feel like you have to hunt down freelance jobs alone in the wide world of the internet. What would you say if we told you there were sites that had whole pages of job listings that fit your specific areas of expertise? Freelance platforms provide exactly those opportunities and are a must when you’re growing your freelance business.
Look into freelance platforms that provide listings of available jobs for you to apply to. Some of these sites have specific rules about how much they get in referral fees and how you can interact with customers through their platform. Be sure to learn about these before you start submitting job proposals and requests.
Another great way to grow your industry presence is to make connections with other freelancers. While these people may seem like competitors at first, in reality, they can be some of your best resources. You may even need to work with them on various projects that stray outside of your specific areas of expertise.
Platforms like Hectic make it easy to work with other freelancers both in your industry and in connected industries. Connect with other freelancers in some of our favorite sites: Freelancing Females, Black Freelance, or at r/freelance on Reddit.
In addition to these social platforms, you can also make some great industry connections by attending events and trade shows. These gatherings may include dozens or hundreds of people who work in your industry and who all have expertise and connections to share. Industry events also often include seminars that can teach you how to optimize your business in your specific industry.
Of course, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed or derailed many in-person events. But many industry leaders have gotten innovative and started moving their events and conferences online. You can find webinars, virtual gatherings, and digital events all over the internet that will allow you to grow your expertise and make more industry connections.
Learn more about getting started as a freelancer
Being a freelancer can be tremendously rewarding, but getting started can be very tough. Use digital marketing to your advantage with social media, a website, and an email newsletter. Also take advantage of your connections, whether those be with former clients or other freelancers in your industry.
If you’d like to discover more tips for getting started as a freelancer, check out the rest of our site at Hectic. We’re here to help you get in control and stay on top of your freelance work, all in one place. Get started for free today and start freelancing smarter, not harder.