Hey, freelancer! Did you know you’re part of a 53-million strong workforce?
That’s if you’re freelancing in the U.S., and there are millions more like you across the world. Add it all up and you’ve got a pretty powerful freelancing community that’s a major contributor to the global economy.
But that very same workforce is also competing directly against you. Wireless tech, online gigs and work-anywhere practices have taken care of that.
So guess what? It’s time to get marketing savvy. You need to secure your next job, and your future, starting now.
To help you do that, we asked a bunch of awesome freelancing gurus for their advice on how to get found by the right people, for the right jobs, at the right time.
Freelance Marketing Tips: The Experts’ View
First up is Claire Beveridge from Crunch (@freelanceadvice). We asked Claire what she considers the most important marketing tip for freelance workers, and she gave us not just one but three handy hints. It’s like asking for a biscuit and getting the whole tin.
Claire says: “Ensure you have a solid presence across all the relevant social media channels. Everyone is on Facebook and Twitter, so think outside of the box. Depending on your freelance business, could you expand to YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram? LinkedIn is also a valuable business network to share work and gain potential jobs.”
Learn to love networking:
Love it or loathe it, old school networking is still going strong. “It’s important for people to put a face to a name or brand,” says Claire. “Research local networking events or meetups in your area and attend. Networking can be daunting at first, but remember: everyone is in the same boat.
“You never know who you might meet or what leads you might gain from a few conversations with like-minded individuals.”
Perfect your ‘elevator pitch’:
Before you go dashing off to your nearest networking event, freshly printed business cards in hand, you should first perfect your elevator pitch.
“An elevator pitch is a summary of what you do; a summary so concise it can be (theoretically) explained in an elevator ride,” says Claire. “It needs to sell you, your business and your skills. Keep it short, simple and explain why clients should hire you.”
According to Claire, an example of a good elevator pitch is: ‘I’m a graphic designer, so I help businesses appear their best to clients, and take care of things like logos, adverts, packaging, posters, signs and basically anything that needs to look great.’
Sounds a lot better than just “I’m a graphic designer”, doesn’t it? Again, think outside the box. Take a backward step and try to look at your role from the outside in. The more you can demonstrate your value to clients, the more likely they are to bring you onboard.
Always be consistent: (Cristina Roman and Sara Frandina – One Woman Shop @OneWomanShop)
Cristina and Sara hail from One Woman Shop, a powerful online community that’s “part resource, part community and all heart” for female freelancers, solopreneurs, businesswomen, and anyone who’s got the balls to go it alone.
Yet as One Woman Shop says, going it alone shouldn’t be lonely – so they’re full of practical advice and “kick-ass inspiration” for solopreneurs everywhere (and, guys, these marketing tips aren’t just for the ladies). So what’s their No.1 freelance marketing tip? “The key to successful marketing is consistency,” says Cristina and Sara.
“With that in mind, choose 3-5 marketing priorities that make sense for your business and that you can realistically be consistent with. Stick to them, and only when you feel like you’re truly nailing it should you consider introducing anything else.”
These are wise words, particularly when you’re going it alone. Don’t spread yourself too thin. This includes knowing when to say that most difficult word in the freelancers’ vocabulary: “No.”
Which brings us onto another key piece of advice Cristina and Sara shared with us…
Learning new skills vs outsourcing:
When it comes to managing your time, and basically keeping your hair intact, it’s okay to shout for help once in a while.
“Know when to learn a skill and when to outsource,” they say. “For example, if you’re a copywriter, learning to code or design your own website probably isn’t the best use of your time.”
As a solopreneur, you’re responsible for everything from invoicing and taxes to chasing up payments, expenses, client communications, marketing, and of course the work itself. It’s unnervingly easy to reach burnout, yet it’s extremely difficult to spot the signs leading up to it. So make the best use of your time and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Task-switching is a productivity black hole: (Velocify @Velocify / B2B Listings @b2byookay)
On the subject of time management, we love this infographic from Velocify – ‘Prioritising Is More Effective than Multitasking’. It demonstrates how constant task-switching is a productivity black hole that leads to silly mistakes, lost time and inefficiencies.
During a Twitter conversation on the same topic, B2B Listings @b2byookay says that the time it takes to “get into” each separate task is the worst culprit. If you can’t completely finish a task, they advise hitting small goals before moving on. That way, you’ll reach a sensible milestone in the project which makes it easier to come back to later.
Timing is everything: (Matthew Stibbe)
Finally, we’re taking a trip back to 2008 for this excellent post by Matthew Stibbe on ’27 proven freelance marketing tips’.
At 7 years old, this article is a golden oldie in modern digital terms – yet it certainly doesn’t show its age. It proves that freelancing has been alive and well for a lot longer than most people think, and it’s fascinating that so many of these points still ring true.
Our favourite top 3 freelance marketing tips from Matthew are:
- Allocate time. It’s really important to carve out time every day to do some kind of marketing activity. It’s also important to dedicate a day or two every month (more if you’re starting out). Getting up early can create extra time for marketing.
- Keep marketing when you’re busy. The biggest mistake I regularly make is to get so busy that I forget to market myself. When you’re busy, you need to be lining up the next deal so you don’t have any downtime. (It’s like the farmer with the leaky roof. When it’s raining it’s too wet to fix it and when it’s dry is just as good as any man’s house.)
- Your obvious is your talent. An editor at Wired told me that if I wanted to write about everything, I had better be the best writer in the world. Better to be the go-to guy for aviation articles than a hack writing about every topic under the sun. As a freelancer, it’s really difficult to do everything well. Better to be a deep expert in one area and cultivate a network of agencies, friends and colleagues who can fill in the gaps.
What are your experiences of marketing a freelance business? What works for you and what failed miserably? Keep us posted @AllianceVirtual. We’d love to hear your stories!