Finding new clients is one of the toughest tasks freelancers face, especially when they are just starting out. One of the most important things you can do in order to attract clients and get yourself hired as a newly-minted or seasoned freelancer is to promote yourself. If you have the skills clients need, they will hire you - but only if they can find you first! Let’s take a look at a few ways that talented solopreneurs can promote themselves in order to get the attention that they deserve.
Have a Strong Online Presence.
If you are serious about being a successful solopreneur, then one of the first things you need to think about is making a website for your business. This can be where you showcase your portfolio of work to show potential clients what you can do. A good portfolio should contain your best work and be something that you are always building on, whether through work for clients or personal projects. When you do start to get work and have your name out there, you can include a link to your website in your author/designer bio so that prospective clients can find you easily.
Your website should also have a blog in order to keep it current, show people what you are up to and how you are working with your talents within your industry. This is also where you can do a little content marketing to attract people to your website and help more clients find you. If you write your blog geared toward a specific niche, then you will narrow down your target audience and your readers will be people who want to work with you and hire you. Share your expertise through blogging and offering tutorials on your website and by answering questions and guest blogging elsewhere, so you can bring more in traffic and more clients.
This may seem like a fairly obvious step nowadays but it really is too important to neglect to mention: you need to make sure you have a strong online presence across all the social media platforms that are relevant to your industry in order to showcase your work. When you post on those platforms use proper tags and categories to help people find you. Keeping on top of all your social media accounts can be overwhelming, but there are tools that can help you save time so that you can spend it on your real work and not just your marketing, check out our list of 10 Apps to Boost Your Online Presence. No matter which sites you are using to promote your business, be sure to keep your contact information up to date and link back to your business website so you are easy to find, a potential client needs an easy path right to you or they will find someone.
Get that First Client.
It helps potential clients feel confident in hiring you if you have already been hired by someone else. How do you get that first client to hire you if you’ve never been hired before? Start by checking within your existing network to see if anyone needs your services: ask family and friends for referrals and to get the word out there that you are ready to work, maybe someone you already know needs your services. After that you can move beyond friends and family by taking a look at the websites of businesses that you use, or have a relationship with, to see if there is anything lacking that your services can provide. Offering to help them out for a good price or even for free could be a great way to get your first job and build a lasting relationship with a business you are already familiar with.
Before contacting any business be sure to find out who is in charge of the area you would be working in and contact them directly. Cold calls and cold emails to potential clients can be an effective way to reach them, but be prepared to make a tonne of inquiries for a few responses. When using the cold call/cold email approach you can increase your chances of getting a response by tailoring your approach to the business you are contacting: be familiar with them, their work, and what you can do for them - do not send out formulated mass emails expecting anyone to respond.
Any good business person knows about the power of networking. Nowadays there are two realms that you need to network in to build your reputation and attract clients: the online world and the real world. Online networking can include activities in relevant social media platforms, such as taking part in discussions, answering questions and getting your name noticed as a reliable contributor.
Networking in person requires a little more planning. You should try to attend conferences, industry events, and relevant conventions, having a great business card ready to hand out. You can also get involved with the local business community and make connections there in order to promote your business.
Treat Your Clients Well.
Once you start getting clients you want to keep them and have them spread the word about how great you are to other potential clients, so you need treat them well. Build and maintain good relationships with clients by doing great work, on time, and always being professional and courteous. Consider giving clients bonus content or even doing a free project here and there for long-term clients in order to keep you at the top of their hiring list.
Don’t be afraid to ask for client referrals once you have a good relationship with them, it will help others have confidence in your ablilities before they take a risk on hiring you. You can also try eliciting feedback after projects in the form of a quick survey, this can help you see if you are falling short in any area and allow you to quickly correct your error, as well as highlight your strengths.
All of the above methods are ways to promote your business, but using actual advertisements is useful too! Take advantage of seasonal promotions to get more work from existing clients, such as a New Year sale on your services. Try taking out online or other advertisements if your budget allows. Be sure that your business is listed on relevant directory sites. You can even consider offering branded items, such as pens or coffee cups if that fits your business’s image.
Last but not least, when you’re just starting out be sure to join freelancing websites, like Sagegroupy and others, so that you can get your name out there and get clients looking at your profile on various platforms. Be sure to keep your profile on each service looking good and up to date.
There are many ways you can promote yourself and no matter which avenues you choose, you want to be sure that you stay consistent and keep at it until you start attracting the attention you need to get the work you need. You can keep yourself motivated by setting relevant goals and breaking those goals into manageable tasks with concrete deadlines. This might look something like:
Goal = Find my First Client
- Ongoing tasks: building an awesome portfolio and a professional business website
- Task 1: prepare an elevator pitch
- Task 2: think of people I know who could use my services
- Task 3: uncle John owns a business - get his phone number
- Task 4: call uncle John and give him my elevator pitch
- Task 5: do a project for free for uncle John
- Task 6: include the project I did for uncle John in my portfolio
- Task 7: get a referral from uncle John
- Task 8: use referral, awesome website/portfolio and great elevator pitch to land first paying job with a friend of uncle John
No matter what your approach you need to find the right balance on spending time on your real work and promoting yourself - working on building your portfolio through paid and personal work should be where you spend the bulk of your time. However, it is a good idea to try and spend a little time each day promoting your business in order to keep your talents fresh in people’s minds so that they think of you when they are looking for someone to hire.