Did you know that more than half of Google employees are freelancers, not permanent employees? And the number keeps rising! The word “freelancer” is now trendier than ever, and more and more people choose the path of an independent self-employed professional. In this article we share 7 Tips for Freelancers to Promote Their Services and Find Clients.
Yet, leaving the safety of an old office and throwing yourself into the new world of freelancing can be confusing and sometimes even tough. The competition is getting more and more intense: 41% of Americans already freelanced in 2020, and the number is still climbing.
No wonder you might feel like it’s impossible to find a job if you’re only starting out as a freelancer. But no worries – we got you covered.
You can take 7 simple steps to help you stand out from the crowd and manifest your expertise in a way that will attract a high number of quality clients.
1. Collect an Impressive Portfolio
Showcasing your experience and skills is of primary importance to self-promotion as a freelancer – we bet you already know that. That’s why properly collecting and organizing your portfolio can make up half of your success in finding clients and projects. Whether you’re a copywriter, web designer, programmer, or SMM manager, compiling evidence of your expertise is the one step you shouldn’t miss.
If you want to create a portfolio that will stand out, consider the following:
- Be selective with your work. Choose the most remarkable and well-executed pieces for the portfolio.
- Add explanations to your pieces. For those less familiar with your niche, some commentary on what and how you execute your tasks would be a valuable demonstration of your skills.
- Be visual. Even if your sphere is not that “picture-worthy”, you can still leverage this. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, take screenshots of the websites where your texts appear.
- Include previous clients’ feedback. Testimonials and positive reviews are key to your trustworthiness as a freelancer.
- Have the portfolio available online. Leave the link to it on your social media and have it as an attachment to all your outreach messages.
Pro-tip: you can make examples or “mockup” pieces for your portfolio if you don’t have enough experience to demonstrate to prospective clients yet.
2. Leverage Social Media Channels
Social media prove invaluable when it comes to looking for clients. You can bump into a great offer on Facebook, Slack, Instagram, and pretty much on any other social media platform if you play your cards well. Here’s how you can do it:
- Engage with relevant Facebook groups. They are excellent tools for connecting people under the same cause, interest, or issue. Join a freelancer Facebook group and stay up to date with the offers that pop up. And don’t forget to actively advertise your services as well.
- Create a business account on Facebook. A business page is a great way to promote yourself as a freelancer. Configure your page in a way that shows your professionalism: upload a well-taken professional profile picture, make your contact info accessible and visible, and pin a post where you tell the audience about your expertise as well as the services you offer.
You can also run Facebook ads for your business page if your budget allows it.
- Establish a solid presence on LinkedIn. Follow companies that might be in search of people with your skillset, regularly update your status, CV, and portfolio. It will help you gain more leads for great projects and gigs.
- Use Instagram as a self-promotion platform. Instagram is especially beneficial for freelancers with creative professions: photo- and videographers, designers, etc. Regularly post the examples of your work, tell the followers about your offers, and engage with the audience – you might find new clients among them.
3. Make Your Move on a Freelance Platform
More and more companies outsource certain tasks and operations – the outsourcing market will make $397.6 billion by the year 2025. On top of that, lots of startups, agencies, and individual clients turn to freelancers for cooperation.
The easiest way for them to find a good freelancer for the job is through a freelance platform such as Upwork, Freelancer, etc. They are filled with vacancies of all sorts and present a space where both clients and freelancers can get in touch and look for the best deals to strike.
So why not approach the search for clients by joining a freelance platform? You can score diverse exciting gigs and try working with a variety of projects and clients all over the world.
Choose the platform that appeals to your expertise and scale, create an account, upload your CV and portfolio (good thing we took care of that in section 1, right?), and begin to reach out to clients!
When you’re starting out on a freelance platform, remember to:
- Be patient. Major freelance job aggregator websites are territories of high competition, so you might have to send dozens of proposals and/or pitch emails before you get chosen by a client for the first time. So take your time to learn more about the platform ad craft your outreach skills.
- Be reasonable with your rates. Do not aim too high before you build up a solid review base and reputation on the platform. At the same time, do not agree to work for next to nothing – you’ll hardly make any profits this way.
- Choose clients with decent reviews and ratings. You’re not the only one who comes under scrutiny on a freelance platform. Assess and choose your clients wisely as well! Opt for those with high ratings and favorable reviews.
4. Don’t Forget About Networking!
Did you know that more than three-quarters of freelancers work from home? While this choice has a number of apparent upsides (not having to commute is already a huge one), you might consider getting out of your home office and doing some good old networking.
- For example, consider joining coworking spaces. They are not only well-equipped with whatever resources you might need (fast internet connection, scanners and printers, etc), but they also present a great territory for cooperation and connection with potential clients. You’ll surround yourself with professionals who might need your services for their business efforts.
- Alternatively, you can look for professional networking events in your area. These include workshops, seminars, job fairs, and so on. Such events enable you to demonstrate and exchange expertise, meet new people, and pitch your services to prospective clients in a vibrant professional environment.
- The good news is, COVID-related social restrictions do not present a barrier for such initiatives. You can still join or host webinars, take part in online conferences, and other online events where freelancers and clients come together looking for partnerships. Use local social media groups and search engines to find the event that suits your skillset and business niche.
5. Do Your Research on Local Businesses
Your local community is another amazing source of gigs and projects you can become part of. Do your research on local businesses within your professional sphere and make connections.
In particular, find out their pain points and figure out how your skills and expertise can make you a valuable professional that will address and solve those problems.
For instance, if you’re an experienced SEO manager, why not reach out to a local restaurant and offer to improve their website content for efficient online promotion? Or if you specialize in brand identity design, suggest a better logo and design code to a dentist practice around the corner.
A distinctive advantage of this strategy is lower competition. Many freelancers tend to aim for digital positions and seek projects online, so going “old school” and targeting your local business is beneficial if you want to stand out from the crowd.
Moreover, when you approach businesses personally and address their potential needs head-on, they will be more likely to respond to your enthusiasm and offer you a job.
6. Put Your Expertise on (Online) Display
Sometimes a little show-off doesn’t hurt – quite the opposite, in fact, especially when you’re an aspiring freelancer!
Put your excellence on display by demonstrating and sharing your skills and experience with others. This is a perfect way to attract new clients and accumulate a solid professional presence online.
Here’s what you can do:
- Start a blog. Are you a freelance PR manager? Post about the most exciting projects, break down the best PR strategies for challenging campaigns, and share valuable tips with your less seasoned colleagues. Chances are, a promising project will find its way to you through a client who happens to be your new or habitual reader.
- Come talk for a podcast on your business. While podcasts used to be a somewhat marginal medium of information and communication, the number of podcast listeners rose by 29.5% in the last 4 years. It is certainly worth exploring podcasts for your promotional efforts as a freelancer!
Do you listen to professional podcasts dedicated to your niche or skills? Reach out to the authors and offer to put in a word on the business issue or phenomenon that intersects with your expertise. Or maybe you could start your own?
- Leverage Twitter threads. Twitter is a true hidden gem of professional networking and a place where you can showcase your talent as a freelancer. One way to do it is to post threads (chains of tweets connected to each other as a continuous story) about your profession. For example, you can share interesting facts about your business niche, comment on specific cases, and give advice. Pro-tip: use relevant hashtags to get more people to see and connect with your thread when you’re posting on Twitter.
- Make a speech at a professional conference. We’ve already mentioned that networking events are extremely valuable for freelancers who are after new job opportunities. You can take it a step further and become a speaker at one! Or, perhaps, you can come up with a workshop, discussion session, or debate on the relevant professional issues. Don’t be afraid to express your ideas and reach out to event platforms and organizers. For instance, Freelancers Union regularly stages networking events and accepts applications from experts. You can also search for similar organizations in your area.
Interesting fact: freelancer events are a great place for major industry players to notice you and your talent! Many top headhunters appear at conferences, webinars, and workshops to spot prospective professionals. Maybe next time you’ll spark their curiosity!
7. Make Your Pitch Stand Out
Last but not least – your ability to pitch your services to the potential client can make a real difference when it comes to self-promotion.
Whether it’s an outreach email or a direct message on a freelancer platform, make sure to craft a pitch that will be impossible to overlook. And it’s pretty simple.
- Be brief and to the point. Time is money, right? It’s also relevant for a good pitch. 3-5 concise paragraphs will usually do the job.
- Put an emphasis on your client’s needs. It can be tempting to focus on your skills and experience but don’t take blunt self-advertising too far. Instead, address your clients’ needs by letting them know how YOU can help THEM.
- Be specific about your skillset and how it applies to the job requirements. Spell it out! An approximate formula here is “I can address your needs in A by doing B and/or providing C”.
- Add a personal touch. Do some extra research on your client. Maybe you’ve used their services as a customer before? Or perhaps a business you’re reaching out to is famous for its inspiring philosophy? Let the client know what you appreciate about them and their efforts! These nuances can go a really long way in making the right impression on a potential client.
Whether freelancing is uncharted territory for you or you’ve been self-employed for a while, finding new clients and projects to work on can be a challenge.
One thing is certain, though: learning to market yourself and your expertise is essential for success.
Use these 7 tips to build up a consistent and efficient approach to scoring the best jobs and growing as an independent professional in your field.
And of course, don’t be afraid to think outside the box! Get creative in your business endeavors, no matter what self-promotion strategies you choose to commit to.
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David Morneau is the co-founder and CEO of inBeat agency, a hybrid micro-influencer marketing SAAS/agency that helps brands scale their marketing efforts. He has helped over 200 DTC brands to date.