If you are an introvert, being a freelancer or solopreneur can be an ideal work situation. For a dedicated introvert like myself, having the freedom to set my own schedule, work from my quiet home office, and choose my own projects and clients are some of the major pluses.
Though I have a lot of autonomy over my work environment and situation, a freelancer can’t exist in complete isolation especially when you are just starting out.
You will need to do a considerable amount of marketing and networking in order to build a steady client base.
While these were challenging for me at first, I came to develop strategies that helped me out greatly. I share them here in my guide to entrepreneurship for introverts.
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Marketing is a word that makes many introverted entrepreneurs uneasy. Most of us aren’t big self promoters by nature, and isn’t that what marketing is all about?
The good news is that marketing doesn’t have to be loud and in your face to be successful, and this approach can even be a turn off to potential clients.
These days, many people are finding success with content marketing, that is, sharing free content that is helpful and valuable to your client base.
If people like your content they are more likely to come back to your blog or website, and to eventually try out your services.
The great thing about content marketing is that it is far better suited to introvert preferences than traditional self-promotion.
It takes a lot of thought and strategy to do this well, as you need to identify your ideal client and plan content that will meet their specific needs. Then you need to create the content and share it with your target audience via a website, blog, or social media.
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Introverts tend to be reflective and thoughtful by nature, which can benefit us greatly with developing a content marketing strategy.
When you are starting your own business networking is necessary, but if you are an introvert, the prospect of networking can be very stressful.
I used to think networking was extremely intimidating, but eventually I realized that introverts can find ways to network on our own terms.
We might not want to go to a job fair or a networking event, and that’s okay. There are many ways to do this that are likely to be even more effective.
The first step is to start with people that you trust and to have a frank conversation with them about your growing business. Even if they are unable to use your services, one of them might know someone who can.
Starting with people you know well is much less stressful than approaching strangers, and is a good way to ease yourself into networking.
Also keep in mind that networking can be done effectively online instead of face to face. Many freelancers consider LinkedIn to be a gold mine for locating both new prospects and other freelancers in your field.
When you locate them, it is best to send a brief personalized message with your connection request. Remember that your goal is not to send a pitch, but to initiate a business relationship.
Another option is to join various groups for freelancers, many of which you can find on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
These groups will help you to connect with other freelancers in your field to ask questions about growing your business and to provide moral support.
It’s a good idea to check in with these groups regularly, as sometimes people looking to hire freelancers will post a job as well.
If you find yourself worrying that you don’t have hundreds of connections on LinkedIn or Facebook, remember that a large number of contacts is not necessary for freelancing success.
When it comes to networking, the quality of your connections is far more important than the quantity.
Networking on its own is unlikely to bring you enough business at first, and for this reason many new freelancers apply for gigs on job boards or by cold emailing potential clients directly.
The idea of cold emailing is intimidating for everyone at first, but may be especially challenging for introverts.
It took me some time to muster up the courage to give cold emailing a try. What if I come across like a spammer or get an angry reply?
I soon learned that there is a cold emailing strategy that increases your chances of your email being read.
The first step is to search for companies that may have a need for your services, research them thoroughly, and find a relevant contact at the company.
Your best bet is to find the person who is in charge of hiring freelancers, such as a Marketing Manager, Content Marketing Director or Graphic Design Director.
Once you locate the person, send a customized email introducing yourself and explaining how your services can help them.
It’s best to be upfront in both your email and your subject line. For example, if you are a blogger or copywriter, you could use a subject line that reads: Content at (insert company name).
While cold emailing takes time, it is far less scary than you think. I’ve never gotten an angry reply, and it is unlikely that you will either.
After all, if the person is not interested in your services, they can simply ignore your email. Cold emailing is a relatively low-risk way to spread the word about your services, and you just might find some quality clients this way.
Client phone calls
Many introverts dread the prospect of speaking with a potential client on the phone. It seems like there is so much that can go wrong. What if I fail to convince them to work with me or come across as incompetent?
It’s natural to feel nervous before speaking with a potential client for the first time. That said, there are steps you can take to feel more confident.
Prepare yourself adequately for the call by doing plenty of research on your client’s company. It’s a good idea to jot down some notes in a physical notebook or in a Word document that you can have in front of you during the call.
You might also want to have the client’s website open on your internet browser for easy access if you need to reference anything.
What if the client asks about your rates during the call? You don’t need to toss out an answer immediately.
It’s perfectly acceptable to let them know that your rates vary depending on the project and that you will include your project rate in the proposal.
While phone calls with potential clients might be intimidating at first, they will become easier over time and you will start to feel more confident.
Remember your strengths
Too often, the value of introverts is overlooked in our fast-paced society that promotes assertiveness, confidence, and outspokenness.
If you ever worry that your abilities are unrecognized or feel lacking in confidence, it’s a good time to step back and remember that you have many strengths.
As an introvert, you are thoughtful and analytical, calm and composed, can work independently and don’t need others to motivate you.
If you believe in yourself and your strengths, you will feel comfortable being yourself, and your quiet confidence will shine through.
All entrepreneurs face challenges when they are starting out, and some of these are specific to introverts.
In this guide I share some common concerns and the strategies that I personally found to be helpful. I hope that these strategies will help you to feel more confident as you build your freelancer business.
What are some of the challenges you faced as an introverted entrepreneur, and how did you overcome them? Let us know in the comments section.
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