Marketing tips to help you grow your freelance business

Setting yourself up as a freelancer is one thing; generating interest in your services is quite another – particularly in a crowded and competitive marketplace. Consider these marketing ideas to give yourself an edge.

Freelance Marketing Tip #1: Be a specialist rather than a generalist

In the beginning it’s often difficult, because you’re just glad of any work that will pay the bills. But, with time, you should consider specialising in sectors that suit your expertise and experience. Specialists usually find it easier to build a profile as an ‘expert’ in their relevant sectors and it’s more practical to target your marketing at specific clients in those sectors, rather than taking the shotgun approach and hoping for the best – which, with limited time and money, you probably can’t afford to do anyway. But don’t put all your freelance eggs in one basket; choose two or three related sectors.

Freelance Marketing Tip #2: Build an industry profile

Once you’ve decided which market sectors to target, start building a presence in the marketplace which will establish you as a respected commentator and ‘expert’. Get involved with industry associations and make yourself available as an office bearer; chairpersons, secretaries or presidents have a greater stature and a reason to make public statements and be quoted in the media. Put yourself forward as a specialist speaker at industry conferences and participate in industry events. If you feel you’ve got something to say, utilise Facebook and Twitter. But here’s an important freelance marketing tip: be sure to use social media on an ongoing basis and keep it appealing and topical, otherwise interest from others will quickly wane.

Freelance Marketing Tip #3: Write, broadcast and blog

Write articles for journals, magazines and websites covering your targeted industries. Create a relevant blog and make it suitably entertaining and/or contentious (bland blogs will die, unread!). Watch out for high profile industry issues and put yourself forward as a commentator and someone who is willing to be interviewed by the media on the topic. If the issue reaches the mainstream consumer media, phone in to talk radio stations. It’s important, though, to have an opinion because listeners, readers and journalists are not interested in uncommitted fence-sitters. However, ensure the viewpoint is both valid and considered; leave rabid, irrational and one-sided opinions to political and religious fanatics.

Freelance Marketing Tip #4: Get testimonials and recommendations

So the saying goes, marketing is when you tell the world how good you are; public relations is when other people tell the world you’re wonderful. Aim for the latter as it’s cheaper, far more credible and, ultimately, a much better freelance marketing idea. Ask clients who are happy with your work to tell others within their organisation and their wider network of business friends and associates. Also ask for written testimonials that you can use on your website, in presentations and as part of your portfolio of work.

Freelance Marketing Tip #5: Continue to market yourself

Everybody from Tokyo to Toronto knows Coca-Cola, yet the company continues to spend billions of rands annually on marketing itself across the globe. Why? Because even the best products and brands have to be marketed on an ongoing basis to stay relevant, top-of-mind and to fend off the competition. What’s good enough for Coke should be good enough for you too, so one of the most important freelance marketing tips we can give is to keep promoting yourself. One blog, one article, one phone call, one e-mail, or one listing on a freelance website is simply not enough. To make your marketing work, you have to keep at it all the time.