As a freelancer, you’re basically running your own one-person business.
Let’s say you’re doing pretty good using a freelancer site like Upwork or Elance. You’re gettin’ gigs, makin’ some decent money, and have good reviews on your profile. But now you want to go up to the next level: you want people to come to you. If you really are doing well on Upwork or a similar site, then it’s likely prospective clients are already seeking you out because of five-star ratings or positive testimonies. But what about off the freelance circuit? What about clients who may not use those sites and may be willing to pay more for your services?
When you freelance, that’s technically a business – just one that has you as both the employer and the employee. Therefore, you should market yourself as such! There are plenty of websites and thought leaders out in the Internet world that can tell you how to really assert yourself in the marketplace, but if you’re just starting out, if this is your first time venturing away from the safety of the Elance community, here are a few suggestions to make the transition easier.
- Get on social media. It’s very likely that you’re already on sites like Facebook and Twitter, but consider making a “work” version of yourself, a profile that’s dedicated to your craft, whether it’s writing or editing or whatever it is that you want to advertise. LinkedIn is vital for small business owners, and also think about joining Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Follow those who do the same things you do, find websites that relate to your services, and retweet/reblog/reply to as many people as possible. The golden ratio for this kind of thing is 80:20 – that is, promote others 80 percent of the time and yourself 20 percent of the time. Seems a bit weird to focus on businesses other than your own, but it’s one of those things that pays for itself over time: you follow them, they follow you; you promote their work, they promote yours! (I’ll be posting a more detailed article about social media later.)
- Create a web portfolio. Now that you’re trying to make it in the “real world,” you won’t have your profile to show how good you are. Sites like Upwork restrict their content to only those with an account, so just linking to your information on there won’t do any good for prospects without one. You need to utilize a service like WordPress, Google Sites, Blogger, etc. and create a portfolio for yourself. List all the works you have completed (asking permission from the authors, if necessary) in detail, making sure not only to include the work you did, but how it was beneficial to your client and what skills it utilized. Put links to its live content online if possible, or set up the Tracked Changes version as a .doc download. Have a downloadable version of your resume available (PDF, preferably), too.
- Start a blog. This may or may not have to do with your profession, but it’s greatly encouraged. Having a blog shows you have other skills and interests, or it’s further promotion for the writing skills you do have. Perhaps you normally do technical writing, and on your blog, you put up personal tech content or even fiction pieces. Anything that shows you’re industrious, multifaceted, and talented is worth presenting to the world.
Marketing yourself isn’t always easy, and it takes time and constant vigilance to keep it up. The business world moves fast, especially on the Internet, and you need to make sure you stay relevant. Keep up-to-date on common programs you use, read up on new social media techniques, and engage in the public sphere as much as possible. Usually, it’s people you meet through networking and friends of friends of friends who provide the most work, but you still need to show you have the talent, experience, and diligence to get the job done.
Have any suggestions on how to market yourself as a freelancer? Share your thoughts in the comments below!