Freelancing is on a high, and more and more professionals are taking this route. Executive-level full-time professionals are not the only ones contemplating it; personnel at all levels and from various industries want a taste of freelancing. The lure of “becoming one’s own boss” and deciding one’s own schedule is too hard to resist by anyone who considers themselves even partially good at their trade. Success stories of freelancers from all corners of the world and from different lines of businesses are inspiring budding entrepreneurs and instilling in them a belief that they are capable enough to share in this success.
Various blogs and articles have flooded the Web with the pros and cons of being a freelancer. Every profession has its major challenges, and freelancing is no exception. Being the boss puts you in the decision-making seat and makes you responsible for any failures or losses. Just being good at your work will not ensure success, more so in freelancing thanks to the ever-increasing competition.
Key to Success: Promoting Your Work
With competition being sharp as a knife and the number of freelancers increasing by the day, a freelancer has to be on their toes at all times. But a masterful design not promoted well is a wasted opportunity.
You might be a master of your trade and even won awards in your last job, but whether you’re a designer, creative writer or online consultant, the first two weeks of freelancing will bring you face to face with the harsh reality that being a master of your trade does not guarantee success. You must come to excel at a host of facets that you may not be strong in:
- Promoting your work,
- Winning more clients,
- Consistently getting more clients,
- Avoiding fatal mistakes,
- Managing your time.
The list of tasks that a freelancer must be aware of, regardless of their trade expertise, is endless. But of all the points mentioned above, the gist of it lies in the first point, how to promote you work.
Think of it this way: being able to design a masterpiece or writing creatively is the body of your freelancing business, whereas promoting your skills is the soul. Neither can be neglected.
Benefits of Self-Promotion
As a freelancer, you will probably be dealing with clients from all corners of the world, and if you are not marketing your business as much as is needed, especially online, rest assured, you will lag the competition big time.
The stronger your presence, the greater the benefit to your freelancing business. Here are key benefits of extensive online promotion:
- One of the most inexpensive ways to promote your business;
- Ensures a 24/7/365 global presence;
- Saves administration and transportation costs;
- Extends the freedom of being able to multi-task from anywhere;
- Environmentally friendly;
- One of the most powerful and quickest modes of communication;
- A good investment without being time-consuming;
- Lends your business a professional and corporate image;
- Your more accessible to your clientele;
- A significant boost to your revenue.
Effective Ways to Promote your Business Online
Now that we know the benefits of promoting your business, let’s look at how to go about it. We live in a time of intense competition, and it will only grow in the future. The economy seems to have flattened out and, as a freelancer, you are already living on a constrained budget, making cheap and effective marketing options even more important.
Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are a must. From big businesses to small, all have realized the importance of maintaining an active presence on them. The numbers of users on these websites is increasing by the thousands every day. People love to interact and exchange views on the products and services that interest them. Make a fan page on as many networks as possible, and remain active, and you’ll see your business get global exposure. I know quite a few freelancers who make their living only through social networks, so ignore them at your peril.
Many professionals across the world refer to the Web directories for various reasons, such as to hire a professional, locate a service provider, shortlist professionals, etc. Submit your website and register with every directory you come across. Internet use constantly rises, both in businesses and homes, and quite often people search the Web to find a local business; chances are, you can get business from your own locality.
It’s not just about existing, but about making people aware that you exist.
You’ll find plenty of directories, both industry-specific and cross-field. You’ll also find linking websites; just make sure that you use actual directories, not just linking websites. These will help your website rank higher on search engines.
Are You Blogging?
Blogging is a must for freelancers. If you do not yet have a blog, start one, and start writing about whatever you are good at. Consistency and quality is the key to getting traffic. If readers like what you say, they will more likely want to know more about the services you provide. The more readers you attract, the more prospective clients you’ll encounter.
If possible, create the blog on your own domain; it will add to your brand identity. But you could also use a third-party platform and link back to your domain.
Online Discussion Boards and Forums
Be actively involved in forums and discussions, especially the ones in your industry. Exchange views with users, and occasionally promote your service. These will help spread the word about your business, and also help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of other players in your industry. People are usually keen to critically evaluate other services, so you may be able to identify loopholes in your own operations.
Discussion forums are not meant for spamming and marketing. Rather, add to the debate and dialogue in a productive way. Promote yourself in the long run by building an image of a trustworthy professional.
Newsletters keep you top of mind among prospective customers. They can be made available online indefinitely, humbly promoting your service, so that even if prospective clients have not subscribed, they might still come across it. Also, because the newsletter is an email, one of your readers might refer you to their friends, making for a quick and easy method of recommendation. Newsletters can also boost website traffic, even if just temporarily.
Writing articles in your area of expertise and then submitting them to various content factories is a great way to promote your business. You’ll find plenty of them online; EzineArticles is one of the most famous. The purpose here, too, is to promote your business through creative ideas and to become known as a professional.
Pay-Per-Click Advertisements (PPC)
One of the best values for the money is PPC advertising. Most search engines offer some sort of PPC advertising platform. Bids go as low as $0.01, making it a pocket-friendly way to spread awareness of your business. The best part is that you only pay for what you get; that is, you pay only when a user lands on your page after clicking your ad.
Link and Traffic Exchange
Exchanging links with other websites is gaining popularity as a viable promotional tool. This method promotes your business on other websites and helps you rank higher on search engines. The more links to your website, the higher your ranking on search engines. Just make sure to change your anchor text periodically, so that the links appear natural to search engines. For more on link-exchange advertising, see LinkAlizer and LinkMarket.
Traffic exchange is another tool that could increase traffic to your website. It is based on the ratio of the number of times your website gets viewed to the number of times you view other website. TrafficSwarm, NoMoreHits, and Studiotraffic are some of the websites that offer such services.
Paid-to-Read (PTR) Advertising
PTR campaigns are especially good if you are new to the world of freelancing. This service is offered by many websites and involves paying readers to read your ads. It’s a low-cost promotional tool to increase traffic to your website. Websites like DonkeyMails and MaxProfit charge only a few dollars to send out your ad to all of its members. Find established websites with a huge database of clients to ensure maximum benefit, which in your case is to promote your services.
Guest Speaking and Writing
Another free but effective method is to become a guest speaker or writer. This gives you a presence on various website, which is sure to boost your freelancing business. It can work either way: propose to other website owners to write guest posts in your area of expertise, or invite prominent writers, designers and personalities to write on your website. Just find websites that cater to a similar target audience, and then propose a mutually beneficial relationship.
Organizing a contest on your website can be another effective tool. Do a bit of research to ensure that the game generates curiosity among your target audience. Offer cash or gift vouchers as prizes. Contests are especially effective for new businesses that are trying to find their feet among intense competition. Just make sure to follow your country or state’s laws for contests. For example, in Canada, the government requires that a skill-based question determine the winners of contests.