Freelancing is glorious, but getting work as a freelancer is often quite the opposite. Stressful, grubby, and at times a little bit painful.
Thankfully, through the fun of the Internet, we can learn from others’ mistakes and save ourselves the heartache. And that is what I am going to share with you here.
I have been freelancing for about three years and there are a few lessons I’ve learned about marketing myself as a freelancer that is probably worthwhile for people just starting out.
TLDR, they are:
- Build up a book of work ASAP
- Build a portfolio, ASAP
- Case studies are your harpoon
- Use freelancing websites
- Balance pigeonholing and not
- Develop packages
- Actually make a website
Let’s hit these in detail.
My Marketing Tips for Freelancers
Build your book of work
A book here refers to basically a database of clients who engage you. Something I think new freelancers should focus on is building up a book of clientele as fast as possible. While this may seem obvious, what I mean here is that you should forgo charging as juicy hourly rates as possible and focus on getting fully booked.
There is a lot of information on Reddit, wrong in my opinion, about charging what you believe you’re worth straight out of the gate.
Please take this as ‘tough love’, but in the beginning, unless you already have results and highly refined skills from a corporate role, your professional contribution is competing with others who have more experience and skills to offer. Aka, the value is lower.
What you need is experience. Experience in applying a repeatable process that gets clients results and gets you reviews and case studies. If you don’t have this, you’re not worthless as a person, but your professional skills are underdeveloped and you need to develop these ASAP.
Focus on building up a book of clients who like what you do and can vouch for your results.
Build your portfolio
A portfolio is a showcase of work that you have done. Don’t make the same mistake that I did, and do lots of work without properly collecting screenshots and examples of your methodology and work in progress as you go.
If you think about it from a client’s point of view, they want to see what they’re getting. If you have a portfolio you can show them exactly this. It just makes total sense. Don’t make their lives harder by having them guess what your work will be like and just take your word for it. If simply taking you at your word were enough to convince them, then why would a client want to choose you over other people who say the same thing?
Case studies are your harpoon
Excuse my analogy here but it’s kind of a good one. At least I think so.
Case studies are a secret weapon that it seems like people aren’t talking enough about. A case study shows your process for diagnosing a particular client problem, how you solved it, and the results. Anet is absolute gold.
With a case study, you actually have something to talk about when you talk with prospective clients. Clients love to learn things, especially those things relevant to a particular problem they are facing. Think about it if somebody had a methodology to solve a problem that you’re having in life, wouldn’t you be interested in seeing what it is? That’s the same thing for clients.
\Make sure you make case studies and tell people that you’re willing to show them what you’ve learned about solving their problems. Then show them your case study. You’ll be surprised at the number of people who are interested and having you work for them based on this.
Use freelancing websites
A lot of people sneeze at marketplaces like Upwork. But they shouldn’t. Upwork takes a big chunk out of the mystery for you on how to find freelance clients. Music up work you can basically contact a somewhat qualified but highly motivated database of people looking for services just like yours. It also helps you collect payments and reviews for your work, especially when you’re starting out.
But they don’t spell out exactly how the system works.
Upwork is a place for specialists who provide hourly work on a particular thing. You can provide consulting, but in my opinion it’s very difficult because it’s not really built for consulting calls or anything similar to this will stop it’s built around discrete deliverables or hourly work.
What this means is that you’ll do better on the platform if you adapt your freelance service to something that can be delivered hourly. For example, it will be quite difficult to find work if you are an image consultant and did not already have a packaged service. However, if you are a copywriter and sell copywriting services by page or by the hour, then it will be a perfect fit.
Balance pigeonholing and not
Pigeonholing can be a great thing and a bad thing. If you pigeonhole, then you will generally see better results on your communication such as marketing yourself on Upwork or off the platform.
On the other hand, if you hold too much you may find it difficult to find work because when you offer is too niche. Generally, I haven’t found that I had this problem but more the problem of wanting to expand to something else that caught my interest later. Anyone who knows me could expect that that would be the issue.
Regardless, it is a great idea to try and come up with a sustainable niche to target and build your columns around this.
Packages are great, because they allow you to divorce your time from the result and for you to sell multiple things to a client of value at the same time. For example, you may offer packages where you do the research and writing as one thing rather than separately.
What I wish people told me, though, is that you are better off building the packages after you have done the services of few times. This helps you get a feel for how long a service takes and what’s really required. This also tells you where there are a good opportunity to add value to the client that is ultimately pretty easy for you to add on.
Actually make a website
Fortunately, I was given some great advice when I started freelancing. I was told to build a website. Unfortunately, I wasn’t that bright and didn’t follow this advice. Now I really regret that I didn’t do it earlier.
Building a website gives you a couple of great benefits. First, it allows you to clarify what you do for people who are considering you after initial contact. What this means is that they can look at your website and think about what you do after you’ve already talked to them.
Second, it allows you to start building a personal brand by talking about things related to your service which can help communicate to prospective clients that you know what you’re doing. Newlight
Finally, at some point, you may get ranked on Google and start receiving inbound leads. This is a really great thing and there’s nothing better than getting a steady stream of client interest from Google searches.
If you’ve ever had any doubt about creating a website, please just go ahead and make one. If you don’t know what to write about, then write about the things that you are learning in your craft and that’s enough to show that you are an active professional developing your skills on the subject.
I hope these lessons that I’ve shared, that I learned myself the hard way, can save you a whole lot of time and frustration in your own freelance work. If I were in your position, apart from listening to my rantings and rumblings, I would go ahead and have a look at other freelancers’ websites and see if they have any other similar lessons learned.
If I wanted to market myself more effectively as well, I would probably focus on learning one or two major channels that are scalable and repeatable for finding new clients. Then focus on those.
If you have any questions about marketing yourself as a freelancer that you’d like my opinion on, please leave a comment below!