How to market your freelance business in 6 simple steps
Knowing how to market your freelance business can be a real challenge.
You want your business to grow and thrive – but unless people know it exists that’s never going to happen! So how do you get your name out there, find those dream clients and build your freelance business?
In the bad old days (believe me, I’m old enough to remember) marketing involved a simple choice: you sent a mailshot, took out an ad in the local paper or picked up the phone and made the dreaded cold calls.
Thankfully, those days are gone – and, thanks to the internet, you’re now spoilt for choice* when it comes to marketing your freelance business.
(*read overwhelmed – anyone?!)
So where do you start?
Here are six simple steps to get your business noticed – without sapping too much of your time, energy or cash.
1. Get your website working for you
Think of your website as your shop window to the world. It’s often the first stop for anyone wanting to find out more about your business.
According to a 2019 study, an incredible 40 per cent of UK businesses have no online presence. When you remember that a well-written, well-designed, SEO optimised website could be working for your freelance business 24/7 that’s a lot of missed opportunity!
With free web-building tools such as Wix and Squarespace readily available, there’s really no excuse for not having a website, though investing in professional web design and copywriting can help to give your freelance business the edge.
2. Start blogging
Blogging is a great way to create value for your audience and to position you as an expert in your chosen freelance field.
Think of your blog as a conversation with your audience.
- Get clear on the purpose for each post.
- Aim to inform, engage and entertain by sharing helpful tips and advice.
- Remember to include a strong call to action – somewhere interested readers can go if they’d like to know more.
Don’t just rely on search engine traffic to gain readers. Once you’ve published your new blog post on your website, share a link on your social media channels to increase your audience.
Fun fact: the word blog comes from the word weblog
3. Email marketing
Business emails fall into two categories: irritating spam emails for products and brands you’re not interested in (please tell me why I keep receiving invitations to attend engineering seminars!?) and emails you actually look forward to receiving each month/week/fortnight.
Your job is to ensure yours fall into the second category.
How? Put yourself in your client’s shoes. What do they want to read about? (Send a short survey to a handful of trusted clients and ask them!) How can you solve their problems, make their life easier, add value or even just brighten their day with an inspiring story?
To help you get the tone right, think of your email marketing as a direct conversation with a client. And make sure it sounds like you! Business speak and jargon are far more likely to turn people off.
Want to see how I do it? Subscribe to my monthly email newsletter. It contains a mix of news, advice and useful tips for freelancers and business owners and a no hard-sell guarantee.
Pro tip: keep it short, keep it helpful, keep it regular (but not too frequent).
4. Build your network
When it comes to spreading the word about your business, support can come from unexpected places. Don’t discount friends, relatives and former colleagues. They may not be in the market for your service, but with a little encouragement they may be happy to help you spread the word.
Keep an open mind when you’re talking to someone who doesn’t appear to be a potential client – you never know who they’re connected to!
As Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Aim to make a great first impression. You never know where it might lead.
Pro tip: remember, networking is about being part of a mutually supportive community so skip the hard sell!
5. Use social media: don’t let it use you!
How many times have you reached the end of the day and wondered where on earth the time went? When you learn that the average person spends around 2.5 hours Every. Single. Day. on social media, it’s easy to see why.
While platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be great ways to build your network and spread the word about your business, they’re also a huge distraction – sapping your time, energy and productivity.
Instead of trying to conquer all platforms, pick one or two where your target clients hang out and focus your attention there. Resist the temptation to check for updates every two minutes and turn off those notifications – your brain will thank you for it!
6. Ask for recommendations
When you need a plumber or a decorator, you ask your network for recommendations, right? The same applies whether you’re a graphic designer, photographer, chiropractor or copywriter. In fact, 77% of consumers are more likely to buy from a business that’s recommended by someone they trust.
Five-star reviews are the best free marketing tool your business has.
Let that sink in.
Testimonials tell people we know our stuff. We deliver. We’re credible. We’re creative. We add value. We make their lives easier. We’re fun to work with.
So make the most of them!
As soon as you’ve completed a project, ask the client if they’d be willing to review your service for LinkedIn, Google or Facebook. Chances are they’ll be happy to help. You could even build your testimonials into project profiles or case studies to showcase your services and the problems you solve for your clients.
Check out this post for more on using recommendations to build your reputation.
Pro tip: find more stats on the importance of reviews and recommendations here.
The last word…
Many freelancers feel uncomfortable with the idea of selling and marketing their business – but you won’t succeed as a freelancer without it!
If this sounds like you, focus on the end result you deliver to your clients. Perhaps you save them time, or help their business become more successful.
Either way, you provide a valuable service and people won’t know about it unless you tell them! So, don’t be shy about promoting your business. A little marketing can go a long way.