Feast or famine. That’s what you’re always dealing with as a freelancer, right? It doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re interested in building a real freelance business – one that puts food on the table and keeps a roof over your head, not just some months but every month – you’ve gotta get serious about creating dependable income. That means making time for marketing, even when your client list is full. And I’ve got 11 methods to help you.
How to Easily Make Business Marketing a Priority
Use Your Time – The Right Way
Having the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to each part of your business, from doing the work to balancing the books to taking care of marketing, is all about using your time productively and deliberately. You must set yourself a schedule, and then follow that schedule.
At the beginning of each week, take an hour to list all of the tasks you need to accomplish, then break them down by day and get to work. Don’t skip this step – the self-discipline to stick to an organizational system will take you far. Make sure you also plan intelligently – don’t shove too much on one day, as getting behind will break your productivity down and unbalance your business more comprehensively than anything else.
Make a Master List of Contacts
Being able to market correctly depends on understanding who your audience is and then having a list of contacts that you can go to for pitching. One of the first steps in any business is determining what your niche is and what your ideal customer profile looks like. You can only measure your success when you understand these two things.
If you’re a writer, your niche may be nonfiction articles about pets. If you’re a coder, your niche may be productivity apps. Whatever it is, figure it out – and then determine the demographics of your customers – are they middle class pet owners with no kids? Stressed business people obsessed with scheduling?
Once you have your niche and your ideal customer profile, build your list of contacts. For a writer, this might be a list of magazines and websites that pay for written content. For someone who works with graphics, this could be a variety of companies and outlets who often look for fresh artists. Spend some time building your list of contacts so you don’t compromise daily productivity by having to stop work and try to research new contacts on the fly.
Create a Pitch Template
When you’re actively looking for work, it pays to have a variety of pitch templates on hand whether you’re a software engineer, a scriptwriter, or even a virtual assistant. Here’s what you do: put together pitch templates that are about 80% complete – you can gear them toward different ideal customer profiles or industries. When you find a job opportunity that suits you, you customize the last 20% to match the gig. Instead of having to craft a pitch from scratch each time, you’ve saved yourself hours each day with a bit of solid preparation.
Set Yourself Up to Succeed
Speaking of solid preparation, set yourself up to succeed by preparing every bit of your digital real estate to sell your story and your services.
Do you have an email signature? If not, make one right now: having a beautifully formatted custom signature drawing attention to the services you offer and your accomplishments is basically free advertising. You never know when an unrelated email might be converted to a lead, courtesy of your email signature.
Make sure you use your social media profiles, LinkedIn profile, and About page on your website in the same way – telling the story of what you do, how important it is to you, and the benefits you have to offer potential customers. These aren’t places for a hard sell – they’re places to show off what you’ve accomplished and how you succeed. Once you’ve set them up (and keep them updated), they’re marketing for you.
Eat the Frog
One way to make marketing an integrated part of your day is to get it out of the way right after breakfast – especially if you don’t enjoy this part of the process! Eat the frog – i.e., do the hardest part of the day first – and get that early rush of accomplishment to propel you through the rest of your workday.
When you’re actively looking for more work from home, spend the first part of your morning sending out pitches and/or networking emails to that contact list I talked about earlier. Pick an arbitrary number – let’s say, three – and then make sure you send out three marketing emails every day.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Have you internalized the point yet that organization is critical to your freelance business? Because it is! Just as important as sending out pitches and networking emails is knowing, at a glance, who you’ve sent emails to. Keep yourself organized from the get-go, whether you keep a written list or build a spreadsheet. Notate when you’ve reached out to someone, and have a plan in place to follow up if you haven’t heard from them after a while.
Following up is also something you should do after you’ve delivered on a job – showing your customer that you’re invested in their success and reminding them that you’re open to further tasks.
Build Passive Income
Passive income is the bee’s knees and something every freelancer should build (as appropriate to their industry). These are books or course materials or previously-recorded lessons that you sell through your website or Amazon or other sites.
They’re passive because you do all the work on them up front, then automate the sales process so it doesn’t require much if any time from you in the future. Sounds awesome, right? Even better is the fact that these items become passive marketing, too – by having a product on offer with all the right keywords, you’re building your cred and attracting new leads to your business.
Don’t Neglect SEO
When you’re building your blog or your website to attract work, always write and build with your ideal customer in mind. As you work, make sure you incorporate the appropriate amount of SEO keywords and follow related best practices – for example, the current recommended blog post length is over 1000 words, and you should consistently post at least once a week to attract customers.
You should also include a mix of internal links and quality outbound links in each post. These practices will help you rank in search engines and become passive marketing, too.
If you work with WordPress, there are multiple plugins that can help you manage these aspects of your site and blog – check out Yoast, SEOPress, or All in One SEO.
Ask for Referrals
When you’re making a marketing plan, don’t forget about word of mouth! Personal referrals are incredibly effective and you don’t have to do anything yourself. Simply make sure your friends and family know what kind of business that you have, and ask them to refer anyone looking for help with the kind of work you do.
Also, make it a part of your delivery process with current customers to ask for a testimonial or review and ask them to refer new clients to you if they’re happy with your services. You might even offer small discounts to past customers on their next gig if they refer new clients to you. (Make sure you provide the discount only in the case of referrals resulting in new business for you.)
Use Social Media Deliberately
You may feel tempted to get on every existing social media service and post about your business – but this is actually counterproductive. Not every social media service is relevant to your industry, and spreading your attention so thin means you don’t get that depth of connection that could actually drive sales. Instead, choose one or two social media services that best suit your business and focus on them.
Learn the most effective ways to use each platform to attract quality followers and potential clients. For example, if you work in the fashion or travel industry, Instagram is a good social media service to leverage. If you work with crafting or cooking, YouTube and Pinterest are great. Keep yourself focused and clean – use social media to build your brand, post consistently on target to capture leads, and don’t waste time.
Share Your Work
A natural source of social media posts is what you’re working on at any given point – if client and project privacy permit that kind of posting. Sharing your work in progress or talking about the challenges you’re facing and how you’re overcoming those challenges provide insight into you as a worker and model what you might be able to do for a client.
These posts on social media can actually attract new customers! Just make sure you discuss challenges in a positive way – you want prospective clients to see you tackling work with a can-do attitude. You capture more leads with optimism than with frustration.
Speaking of optimism, how are you feeling about making marketing a priority now? Use these methods and look forward to a better return on your time investment in marketing for your business.