Anytime you start reading an article about starting out as a freelancer or how to succeed as a freelancer you are told to pick a niche and hustle your brand in order to attract clients. Here at the Sagegroupy blog we have covered this topic in articles about creating your brand, boosting your online presence, and email marketing for freelancers. But what if you don’t want to spend a lot of time hustling your brand and would rather focus on just doing the work that your clients need, are you doomed to fail as a freelancer? If this big question is on your mind as you debate whether or not freelancing is for you, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is: you do have to do some marketing, it cannot be completely avoided if you want clients to find you. The good news is: marketing yourself doesn’t have to be the difficult hustle you think it is and you aren’t doomed to always be selling yourself.
Here are some ways that you can spend less time on hustling your brand and more time doing the work that you love.
Deliver Great Results
The time you need to spend on marketing yourself as a freelance depends on a couple of things: what your vocation is and how long you have been freelancing. Different vocations have different marketing needs. For example a good translator of an in-demand language pair might not need to spend much time marketing themselves at all, since their skills are in high demand. Whereas a life-coach might need to really hustle their brand all over the place to land even one or two clients. A freelancer who has been working for a while and has built up their reputation, no matter what service they provide, might find themselves in a similar position to the translator - with in-demand skills that clients seek out. Those that are just starting out are going to need to act a little more like the life-coach and push to get their name out there, but if you consistently deliver great results to your clients they will keep coming back and refer you to new clients.
Once you have established yourself as a freelancer who provides great work, most of your jobs will come from clients you have worked with before and from referrals. The more your reputation blossoms in your field, the less time you will have to spend selling yourself. Be a professional freelancer who provides quality results on-time and soon clients will be singing your praises to others and doing your marketing for you.
Perfect Your Craft
You want to spend more time on your vocation than marketing - so do that! Always be looking for opportunities to provide your services to clients. Volunteer your services to a small local business in need for a project, it will help them out and help you get your name out in the community as a freelancer who provides great work. Check job boards everyday and find jobs that are within your realm of service and apply for them. A word of caution: the biggest freelance job boards might have you taking a few low paying jobs at first to build your portfolio and reputation. Try not to make a habit of doing low-paid work because you won’t be able to sustain it in the long run. A successful freelancer needs to be paid what they are worth.
If you have a passion for your work and not marketing but the jobs aren’t rolling in, spend some time to studying your craft, learning new techniques and adding to your portfolio. Time spent perfecting your technique and building your portfolio gives you something to show clients and is a part of marketing that does not feel like hustling your brand. Clients are always looking a the cost-effectiveness of hiring a freelancer for their project, if they see that you can do stellar work they will have way more confidence in hiring you and you will land more jobs.
Enlist the Help of Friends and Family
Get your friends and family to hustle your brand for you. Referrals are really important for freelancers and if you have a few people close to you willing to vouch for you and sell you up to someone else in their network, that is a great way to gain clients. If you are lucky enough to have someone put their reputation on the line to vouch for you, be sure that you provide the client with your best work in a timely and professional manner. You will make both your new client and the person who helped you happy and more likely to hire you and vouch for you again in the future.
Find a Good Example
Not sure how to market yourself and don’t want to spend tonnes of time learning? Check out what other successful freelancers in your industry are doing and follow their example. See how they are advertising themselves; if it is working for them, maybe it’ll work for you. Take a look at the content of their website, portfolios and what kind of online presence they have and where, perhaps you might notice something your marketing strategy is missing. While you’re at it, be sure to investigate their prices to make sure that your services are priced accordingly. Consider your successful competition as providing you with a cheat sheet for marketing and adapt their strategy to your particular needs.
Be a Joiner
Join a few groups and go to industry events. Time spent networking can really pay off, especially in the first few year when nobody knows your name. Join online groups in your niche, not only can you make connections and keep up to date in your industry, you will be able to get your name out there and on the minds of people who might be able to refer you to clients or even hire you themselves. Heading out to an industry event in your area can feel overwhelming when you are new in the game, but one day spent meeting people could pay off for years if you manage to meet the ones who need your services. Potentially finding a few long-term clients in one day, means less time spent marketing in the future, so do not be afraid to get out there and meet people.
Marketing yourself isn’t always like advertising, sometimes comes in the form of following-up with people you meet out in the world. Always follow up with potential clients whether you meet them at an industry event or somewhere else. For example, say you meet someone at your cousin’s birthday party and they mention they have a business that could use your services, follow-up as soon as possible with an email or phone call before the opportunity passes you by. Following-up doesn’t have to be pushy, you can reach out in a friendly to remind them of your conversation and that you can provide them with excellent work.
Once you have been freelancing awhile and have reliable income, you can decide whether or not you still want to spend time on marketing. If you do not have time to devote to marketing but still want to make more money by attracting new clients, you can choose to outsource your marketing needs by hiring someone else to do it for you - preferably a fellow freelancer! Hiring a freelancer to take care of your marketing sets you free of having to hustle your brand. Not only will they do the work for you, they can provide a fresh perspective on your marketing strategy and are probably better at marketing than you since it is their vocation. If you are looking to hire a freelancer to help you market your business, check out our talent pool at Sagegroupy and find the freelancer that is right for you.
Unless you are starting out with several clients already onboard and ready to hire you, you will have to spend some time building your reputation as a freelancer and getting your name out into the world and in front of potential clients. With this in mind, expect to spend more time marketing yourself in the first couple years of your freelance endeavour than throughout the rest of your career. Knowing that you won't have to hustle your brand forever might help you push through the marketing-heavy first years and get to the stage where you have built a name for yourself and have reliable clients continually using your services and new clients seeking you out. If you are ready to start finding clients now by adding your profile to our freelance talent pool here at Sagegroupy, the freelancer’s friend.