8 Steps on how To Market yourself as a freelancer in 2020
As a freelancer, if you want to be successful, you must know how to market yourself. If you build it, they won’t come – this is a dream that won’t come true unless you attract people to what you’ve built. In this article, you’ll get the steps for how to market yourself as a freelancer to successfully gain more clients.
Step 1: Define Your Niche
A lot of freelancers out there just take whatever skills they have and start applying for projects willy-nilly. They are content to see who will bite, even if it’s just a short project. This is not sustainable long term, and does not lead to success.
Defining your niche is foundational. You must pick one area that you will focus on so that you can become an expert in that area. If you are juggling various skills, you will remain the proverbial jack of all trades, master of none.
That said, it’s important to choose a niche that you are absolutely passionate about, and comfortable with. This is what you will be doing long term, to build your success. Think long and hard about what you really want to offer to the world that makes you happy and fulfilled.
Step 2: Identify Your Ideal Client
Again, a lot of freelancers just throw applications out there to anyone to see who will hire them. This catch-all net method takes a lot of time and usually ends up in great frustration. The second step in how to market yourself successfully is to identify who you really want to serve.
Your satisfaction plays a big role in your success. Too many people work for the sake of earning a living. This is not sustainable, nor does it bring success. You must find within yourself that ideal client avatar who will make work a joy; the person who you can serve all day with a smile on your face.
Start by outlining the personality traits that are a must for you to work comfortably with someone. Then jot down the aspects of their business that appeal to you the most. Take into consideration your niche as well. Then throw all that into a Venn diagram. The resulting connections in the middle will be the qualities of your ideal client.
Step 3: Create an Online Portfolio
Armed with your niche and ideal client, you can now create a freelance portfolio that targets your ideal projects. Choose a platform and design that matches your niche, audience, and personal style. This will help attract your ideal clients organically. And always use professional images and check three times for errors.
When writing and uploading content, focus not on yourself but on what you can do for your ideal client–the results that they can get with you. And always think about the next step in the journey that they are taking from curious visitor to paying client. And keep them on your site so that their destination, whatever links they browse through, is always you–booking a call or signing up for services.Keep improving your digital portfolio. As you connect with more clients, you will notice patterns and things that you can tweak to make your portfolio focus more on conversions. You will also collect case studies that you can share (with permission, of course).
Step 4: Develop Your Skills
As you continue on your freelance journey, a vital aspect of how to market yourself is to always be improving. Clients will always notice from your content and services if you are stagnant or growing–and they love to work with people who see growth as important!
Whether potentials or clients who have already signed up, showing how you are improving is key to your success. Potential clients will notice the progression and be even more attracted to you. Current clients will see how you are even better than before and want to retain you and refer you to their networks.Note that you will need to find the time to develop your skills–both hard and soft skills–without sacrificing your earning potential. This entails developing systems and processes so that you are automating a lot of work to free up time rather than taking time away from serving clients.
Step 5: Build a Social Media Following
The best tip I can give you along the lines of how to market yourself in this day and age is to create relationships. Old-style hard-sell marketing does not work. The focus has shifted from what is available because there are so many options out there today. This puts the power in the hands of clients, since they are looking for the best option that suits their needs and desires. First, choose the social channels where your ideal clients hand out the most. Then create a compelling profile that matches your portfolio.
Then start creating content focused on reaching out and providing value for free. Everyone loves to see value-ridden content that they can consume and apply without a catch. This will draw your ideal clients to you.
Third, you can start building relationships with them through comments and even inviting them into private chats to go deeper into what they need and want.
Finally, you can simply ask them if they need help and they will not be able to say no.
Step 6: Educate Your Audience
Within your portfolio and on your chosen social channels, create regular content that educates your ideal clients.
Talk about the need for your services in a non-promotional manner. For example, if you are a graphic designer, talk about how the right design elements can boost conversions for them. If you are an editor, talk about how clean copy and articles make a good impression on visitors.
Step 7: Participate in Speaking Opportunities
Whenever you get the chance, expand your content creation to speaking opportunities. People love to consume audio and video content—it’s a lot easier and more convenient than reading!
Reach out to people who have podcasts and do webinars around your niche. Create a down-to-earth introduction and pitch to be invited as a guest speaker. Tell them the value that you want to provide to their audiences. (Again, always focus on the value that they will get, not on how great you are.)
As you put yourself out there, you will become more well known and members of these audiences will start following you, engaging with you, and inviting others to view your content and engage. Before long, you can start building relationships with them, and ultimately bring them on as clients.
Step 8: Attend Networking Events
Whether online or offline, you should be putting yourself out there by attending networking events. Similar to the above, networking gives you the opportunity to be seen and heard by people outside your circle. Impress them with value and they will invite you to their circles and connect you with others who will introduce you to their circles, and so on.
You may also find new clients directly at these events. Because you are participating on a more one-on-one basis, you can engage and build relationships on the spot. This opens up a hot channel for you to draw in direct sign-ups and referrals.
These are my top 8 steps for how to market yourself as a freelancer. There are undoubtedly more, but these are focused on getting you on the path to success, and getting there faster without a lot of time or frustration.
Take each step in order so you don’t overwhelm yourself. If needed, go back to previous steps and make tweaks until you’ve perfected each one. We can’t always find our perfect niche or ideal client on the first go. Our portfolios and skills are a perpetual work in progress. Putting yourself out there, building relationships, and providing value are also ongoing endeavors.
Author: Matt Harrison
Matt Harrison is the VP of Strategy of FreeUp, the preeminent freelance marketplace for hiring high quality, vetted talent. He has hired freelancers from around the world and built teams to service multinational brands resulting from over $100 million in web hosting company acquisitions. He currently lives in St. Petersburg, FL.