You have no clients or business if you don't properly market your freelance services. It's literally the fuel that keeps new clients coming in and current clients coming back. Without a proper marketing strategy, it's only a matter of time before your freelance business dies out.
We've created a list of marketing strategies that will keep your workflow jam packed with new and returning clients. With that said, here are 10 ways on how to market your freelance business to get you up and running.
10 Proven Strategies to Market your Freelance Business
So, how do you market your freelance business? Well, it's not just about giving discounts and trying to be the “one stop shop” for all your client's needs (which is actually a bad idea in most cases). Rather, it's about knowing who your market is, where they can be found, and creating trust and a positive reputation among that market.
1. Repeat Business
I had to bring this one up first, because I believe it's the most important of them all. The majority of my freelance income comes from returning customers. So how is this a marketing strategy? The work you provide to your customers is in and of itself a form of marketing to keep your customers happy.
By simply trying to provide world class work to the clients you do have, naturally, you will build up a list of loyal followers who just can't see themselves going to anyone else but your business!
Some ways to go above and beyond your client's expectations can be things like:
- Delivering your work earlier than expected
- Keeping your clients informed about the project, even when nothing has changed since the last time you updated them. This gives them confidence that you didn't forget about them, and thus they won't worry about where you are at with the project.
- Providing additional work that your client didn't expect but will help them out. This doesn't mean giving out free services, but rather going the extra mile on the projects your clients order from you.
- Providing added benefits to your repeat clients such as locked in prices, faster delivery, project priority, etc.
Looking for a one stop shop to grow your freelance business? Well, apart from The Money Venture website, take a look at The Freelancers Bible. Highly recommended, and saves you hours of time.
2. Referrals & Word of Mouth
Naturally, as you follow the first marketing strategy outlined above, your clients will be walking talking free marketing machines for you. They will talk about you to their friends and network, when topics related to your services are brought up among conversations, they will mention you and how well you work with their company, etc. Each client that becomes a repeat client will create a network like effect of growing your brand and company through word of mouth.
Along with providing great service and going above and beyond for your repeat clients, naturally they will pass you referrals. To take it a step further, having promotional referral programs is a great way to get your clients talking about you even more.
An example of this might be a free service for your client when they send you a referral who buys from you. Or, it could be giving referrals a 25% discount when referred by a current client. Whatever it is, the idea is to create an incentive for your clients to want to refer your company to other potential customers. It's cost effective, it creates loyal clients, and when done right it can spread like wildfire and your workload will be enormous!
3. Launch A Website or Blog
The majority of your prospective clients will do one thing before they decide to work with you: they will look you up online. Think about it, when you look for a graphic designer, where is the first place you go? Google!
Clients that are searching for “graphic designers” (videographers, copywriters, web developers, etc.) but don't see your business or website as a result of their search will never find you in the first place!
Creating a website or a blog costs little to no money and brings in clients naturally who are looking specifically for your freelance services. Your website should be the foundation for where you can instill trust, professionalism, and reputation among potential clients. It's your first shot at proving to people and businesses that you are the best choice to hire.
Your blog should have posts that provide helpful information for your target market. If your market is small businesses who need a new logo, then you should be writing about popular questions, obstacles, and resources to small businesses who are just starting out. This will attract them to your website, and naturally they will become familiar with your business and services.
Using a service like GoDaddy allows you to buy a domain for a few bucks and build a website with WordPress without any required web development skills.
4. Email Marketing
After following the first three strategies above, you will likely have a list of clients and potential clients, along with their email addresses. One of the easiest ways to stay top of mind is by sending out regular emails with helpful information and occasional sales pitches.
Using an email marketing service like Constant Contact or GetResponse allows you to create email sign up forms, landing pages, schedule email broadcasts and even create regular email campaign sequences that send one email a scheduled amount of time after the previous email to promote a campaign.
5. Pay Per Click Ads
Have you ever performed a search on Google, Bing or Yahoo and the top results have a small icon that says “ad” by it? That's because these search results are being paid to be listed at the top of the search results for the keywords you entered into the search engine. This is called Pay Per Click ads, or PPC for short.
Since you know who your freelance market is (or at least you should know your ideal client profile by now) you can create ads with Google Ads that show your ad at the top of search results for specific keywords your clients might enter into the search engine. You pay Google per click on your ad. Paid ads can cost as little as a few cents per click, to as much as $10 or more per click, depending on how competitive that keyword is among other businesses like yours.
An easy way to research keywords is to use a keyword search tool like SEMRush, that allows you to see how often certain keywords are searched each month so you can place your ads targeting the keywords with the highest search volume. You can also view the SEMRush Academy which features free courses for digital marketing, including PPC Ads.
6. Stay Active on Social Media
Getting found online through major search engines is just part of the equation to building an online presence. You can get just as much organic website traffic, if not more, by being active on social media. Posting regularly on social media platforms where your ideal clients are most active gives you the following benefits for your freelance business:
- Builds awareness of your services
- Creates customer engagement
- Provides website traffic
- Provides potential referrals
- Builds overall Search Engine Optimization
- Builds brand trust and reputation
- Gives you insights into your ideal clients
You can even schedule your social media posts in advance, so you don't have to worry about constantly updating your social media accounts. SEMRush has another added benefit for social media as well, allowing you to build posts and schedule them even weeks in advance, while also monitoring your customers engagement with your posts and responding to comments and questions.
Too many freelancers try to become the “one stop shop” to provide every service available for their market. The problem with this is that most people seeking a solution or help with a project aren't searching for help with 10 unrelated projects, they want an expert for one specific project.
When you specialize your freelance work to a very targeted market you become the “go to” person for anyone and everyone within that market. This is a marketing strategy that can really make a huge difference in your freelance business. Once you've gone very niche, you can then start expanding to additional related markets.
An example of a niche market might be small businesses within the financial industry who need help with digital marketing. Once you become the go-to for this market, you might consider offering digital marketing for related industries like technology, real estate, etc.
8. Get Customer Reviews
When potential clients are deciding who to work with, they want to make sure they hire a trustworthy freelancer who knows what they are doing. The most effective way to do this is through customer reviews.
When you go to shop on Amazon for a particular product, and you have multiple choices available to you, which one do you usually end up going with? The one with the best reviews, often times even if it costs a little more!
Having proof of great service and reputation naturally attracts more clients, and even gives you the ability to offer your services at higher prices. If your clients want the best of the best, they are almost always willing to pay a premium for it!
9. Build Brand Awareness
This might seem pretty generic by the title. But, here is what I mean by this. What do you immediately think of when you see someone walking down the street with a pair of white earbuds in their ears? Chances are you think Apple!
Why? Because everyone knows apples earbuds are white, and few competitors offer anything even remotely similar. This is a prime example of building brand awareness.
Building brand awareness means creating a level of expectation, reputation and service that is immediately noticed when someone hears about your brand or sees your logo.
This is done by branding yourself online through your website, social media platforms and even on your delivered services. If you provide detailed SEO reports for client's websites, be sure to brand your work with your logo on the report you give them!
If you post pictures or infographics to your social media promoting some of your services, make sure it's stamped with your logo. Over time, your brand will become more of an emotion or sentiment that is associated with great work, trustworthiness, and expertise.
10. Perfect Your LinkedIn Profile
After your clients have looked you up on the internet through Google, Bing or Yahoo, the next most probable place people are going to do research on you is through your LinkedIn profile page.
This is especially important for new freelancers starting out because it's the foundation of their trustworthiness since they may not have many customer reviews or a well built out portfolio to showcase.
The easiest way to tell whether your LinkedIn profile page is top notch is by simply following the LinkedIn guidelines on how complete your profile is. Work on it until it says 100% complete and optimized. Make sure your description describes who you are as a person, what you enjoy, why you're good at what you do, and who will most benefit from working with you.
Be sure to include any certifications, education, major achievements, etc. on your profile as well to provide proof of work and expertise. Once you've optimized your LinkedIn profile, you can likely apply to become a part of the LinkedIn ProFinder program, which is a list of vetted freelancers that LinkedIn sends leads to when businesses request help with specific projects.