Nowadays, freelancing is a trend that many professionals follow: it’s fun and liberating. Freelancing, however, is also quite challenging — and of such challenges is knowing the best freelance marketing secrets.
Freelance is a global community and the pool of available job candidates is just overwhelming. For clients, this is just awesome; for freelancers themselves, however, it often becomes quite troublesome to get their voice heard when there’s so much competition.
The answer to this problem is freelance marketing: freelancers should refine their professional skill set, but they should also promote themselves in the digital environment.
With these 4 freelance marketing secrets, you’ll improve your marketing game and be one step ahead of your competition!
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Why marketing is important for every freelancer
A quick glance over freelance marketplace platforms like Upwork or Freelancer shows: there are thousands of freelancers in each category. In this competitive environment, it’s absolutely vital for every freelancer to find a way to promote themselves.
Here’s a paradox that many freelancers refuse to consider: clients are often unable to gauge the skills of the people they hire.
Instead, they have to rely on other factors to try and assess whether this particular candidate would be a good fit.
These factors include reputation, recommendations, presentation, and many more — ultimately, they’re all tools of marketing.
It goes without saying that marketing is a powerful tool, so which benefits does it bring?
- Networking opportunities. Your success in the industry is highly reliant on your network — professionals you can trust and who can vouch for you. Marketing is a never-ending process — and it presents better networking opportunities as time goes on.
- Thanks to marketing channels, you can broadcast information more easily: on a freelance marketplace platform like Upwork, your self-presentation options are quite limited (“Upload a profile pic and write a short bio”). On your personal website, for instance, the possibilities are endless: if you feel that a fancy video describes your work best, go for it!
- Additionally, a great marketing strategy is a testament to your skill set: it shows the prospective client your dedication to your area of expertise. After all, ranking #1 in, say, “cat whisperer los angeles” search query is a challenge in and of itself — and you’ve made it!
How to compete with big marketing budgets
It’s tempting to think that individual freelancers can’t compete with big marketing budgets of large companies — but they actually can.
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Freelance marketing secrets lie in the freelancer’s genuineness: every freelancer is a real person with their own story — and telling this story (i.e. marketing) is a great way to attract customers.
Indeed, competing with a big company may seem challenging because of marketing budget problems, but customers often place their trust in certain products and people because they’re feeling personally connected to them.
A big company may have an enormous marketing budget, but it’s ultimately faceless, abstract, and hard to connect with.
A freelancer, on the other hand, is real and their story, however boring it seems to the freelancer themselves, is engaging.
Social media profiles and personal websites do an excellent job at presenting this “realness”: write all information-that-you-wouldn’t-put-in-the-official-resume in the “About” section, talk about your side projects, hobbies, and interests, show that you’re a real person and not a machine that only does one task — and people will love to connect with you!
Additionally, many platforms where you can compete with bigger companies are free, so here’s another awesome freelance marketing secret: your Medium article, YouTube video, or, well, Twitter tweet have an equal chance of rising to the top as the content created by companies like Apple, Instagram, or Airbnb.
Big marketing budgets cannot buy engagement — in the end, the audience will vote for the most interesting content with their watchtime, likes, and reposts.
4 freelance marketing secrets you’ll want to read
Freelance marketing is a huge topic to uncover, but there are always neat little secrets you can use. Let’s explore some freelance marketing secrets and how they can help you become a better freelancer.
1. Build your reputation
As discussed above, each client has an overwhelming amount of candidates to choose from. Here’s some food for thought: Why does a given client actually choose a given freelancer?
Although factors like presentation and popularity are important, we’d argue that the freelancer’s reputation creates the most impact.
Reputation is arguably the single most important quality of any business — and that’s hardly a “freelance marketing secret”.
You’d be surprised, however, to find out that many freelancers neglect their reputation, preferring to let their job-related skills “speak for themselves”.
This reinforces an important point: your reputation is much more than your raw professional skills; it’s also about reliability and trust.
So what makes a great reputation? Our experience tells us that you should focus on these aspects:
- Deadlines. Not only setting them, of course, but also actually sticking to them!
- Solving the client’s problems. Doing excellent work — but also helping when posed against mutual problems (e.g. the payment didn’t come through)
- Being loyal to your work ethic and standards — even if you have to say “No” and infuriate a prospective client.
As stated above, social media (and overall digital) platforms are a great marketing tool — in essence, they allow you to reach your target audience organically and (more often than not) for free.
Still, you should optimize the content you post for each particular medium.
In general, social media channels can be grouped into two distinct categories: “Outlets” (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more) and “Creative networks” (Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Flickr, etc.).
Their main difference lies in the type of content that is usually produced there — visual vs. textual.
Freelance web developers, for instance, do well on Medium (writing in-depth technical guides) and Twitter (sharing state of the art technology) — so which medium fits you best?
Naturally, to fully capitalize on each medium’s potential, you should optimize your content to fit the platform.
3. …but also diversify them!
Online platforms give — and online platforms take away. When you put all of your marketing eggs in a single basket (i.e. focus only on one platform), you’re running the risk of losing all marketing progress.
Here are a few things that can happen to any platform:
- It changes focus, causing outrage from its community and a massive user exodus (e.g. Medium in May 2019)
- It realizes that it cannot compete and gets abandoned/closed (e.g. MySpace, Vine, or LiveJournal)
- It bans you. That’s it (we don’t have such an experience, but you can share yours in the comments ̄\_(ツ)_/¯)
4. Create a personal brand
Closely related to your reputation, your personal brand ensures that the clients come back for your services time and time again. In essence, it works as a proof of your expertise and proficiency.
A personal brand can be developed via social media and your overall presence in the industry: attend meetups, clubs, and conferences; mentor your peers; and when every event is attended, organize your own!
Love it or hate it, marketing is a crucial aspect of every freelancer’s work routine.
Marketing can seem like a chore, but it can also be an exciting race against the best talent of your industry, testing your creativity, dedication, and focus — the choice is up to you!
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