7 Freelance Marketing Strategies to Get More Clients and Boost Business!
For a freelancer, self-marketing is the number one tool for finding work, gaining clients, and making the profits necessary to maintain a livelihood. And with more and more people turning to freelance work as their primary means of income, the freelance world has become more competitive than ever before, emphasizing the importance of self-marketing.
If you neglect marketing for too long, you may soon find yourself short on clients. Fortunately, there are plenty of freelance marketing strategies that can be used to their advantage.
Believe it or not, there are several clients out there also wondering how they can reach you. It doesn’t matter the size of the distance between you and your clients; with a good marketing strategy, you can bridge it and attract new customers to your business.
- Develop your freelance portfolio
- Network with your fellow freelancers
- Build a professional social media presence
- Nail your personalized client pitches
- Request reviews and referrals from clients
- Blog to enhance your business brand
- Grow your outreach with email marketing
So let’s get started on these marketing tips for freelancers!
1. Develop your freelance portfolio
The best way to market yourself as a freelancer is by using a portfolio. These feature your work in action, helping clients envision your skills working for them. The work in your portfolio should be your very best and show diversity in your skills and clientele. It can also reveal your creativity and personality, which will help you stand out from the pack of freelancers all vying for the same job.
By thinking of each element of your portfolio as its own story — whether you use words, images, reports, or something else to do so — you’re more likely to get people to pay attention to the projects you want to share with them.
Here are a few different ways to approach each example:
- Case studies: Write a short story about a challenge you have solved or a business you have helped.
- Snippets: Include excerpts of your work — you don’t need to use the entire project, especially if it’s large or complex. For example, you could include a summary of a longer document, or share a preview or clip of a larger piece of work.
- Screenshots: Take screenshots of your work, such as spreadsheets, research documents, apps, social media posts, or even anonymized Google Analytics campaign results.
- Results: Create a visual representation of your successes using diagrams, charts or graphs.
- Testimonials: Have former colleagues or clients vouch for your skills by including a testimonial. Make sure to make any quotes or testimonials you’re using visually appealing.
- Samples of your own work: Portfolio samples do not necessarily need to be a piece of paid work you have done. Consider creating a small number of relevant work samples, especially if you aren’t able to showcase previous projects.
Aim to make your portfolio exciting, and not just a copy of your resume. Provide as much information about each piece as possible by painting a clear picture of your role in each project. Use the project descriptions to write brief but interesting stories about how a project came to be. Keep your write-up short and concise; one or two short paragraphs should do the trick!
Here are some suggestions to help you:
- Explain what your main task or deliverable was
- Describe how you tackled the client’s problem
- Highlight the skills, tools, and technologies you used to fulfill the client’s requirements
- Include any other important details about how you nailed the project goals.
Pro-Tip: Focus on projects that are the most relevant to the type of projects you’re currently trying to win.
Common ways of showcasing portfolios are Dropbox, Google Drive, or links on your website. Third-party portfolio sites can also be leveraged to feature your work. Here are some places to get you started:
- Contently — for writers, journalists, and content creators
- PortfolioBox — for designers, photographers, artists, and more
- CarbonMade — for illustrators, animators, architects, and more
- Behance — for graphic designers, illustrators, UI/UX, and more
Be sure to update your portfolio regularly to reflect your skills. Chances are that over time old projects in your portfolio outgrow you. As your skills improve, you don’t want prospective clients to see obsolete projects that don’t truly reflect how good you’ve become.
2. Network with your fellow freelancers
Freelance networking can be frustrating but it’s also extremely important to your freelance marketing strategy. Having the right contacts can open doors that otherwise remain closed, especially for a freelancer. The lone wolf aspect of freelancing can make it tough to form those relationships, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds.
Approaching strangers can be a daunting aspect so it’s best to start with the people that you know. Begin slowly with your friends and relatives, and then when you’re a little more comfortable with the idea of networking, move on to your alumni network.
A general tip that applies to both online and offline freelance networking is not to leave other freelancers out. As you’re building your network, help out fellow freelancers if you can. Think of it as having good, reliable colleagues.
If the workload is too much, the project too big, or just too difficult, freelancers need others that they can count on. Make yourself that “other” person. By lending a hand, you can then count on them for help later down the line. Freelancers who want to build their network and build genuine relationships can join co-working spaces in their own community.
You may also consider getting in touch with just two or three freelancers with complementary skills or ones who work in a parallel industry. The idea is that they refer clients to you, and in return, you’ll refer clients to them. You can discuss referral fees if it makes sense, but the point is that someone may need you for one part of a project, and need someone else’s skills for the rest.
People often think that professional networks like LinkedIn or Xing are often only used when one is looking for a job. However, professional networks like these are one of the best resources available to freelancers for online networking.
Keep your profile up to date and include projects you’re working on, but also actively look for people who work on similar things. Consider connecting with people or organizations on Twitter. Engage with the posts they share and when you’re ready, reach out to them directly.
Support your online freelance networking with an offline networking strategy. With the pandemic still in play, going to local in-person events may be difficult but that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of local virtual ones. If there happen to be in-person events in your area, it might be a good idea to attend a few and promote your freelance business.
Lastly, focus on presenting yourself in a genuine manner and listening to what others have to say. This leads to much better results. Genuine passion for your work is the most important aspect that potential clients will remember when considering you for a job in the future.
3. Build a professional social media presence
Whether you’re a graphic designer or a freelance writer, your online presence should be consistent across all social media channels in order to market yourself as a freelancer. Be clear about who you are, what you do, and what gives you a competitive advantage.
Depending on the services you offer as a freelancer, different social media sites will better help you market your freelance business. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you’ll likely find greater benefits in using Instagram than LinkedIn to showcase to clients the quality of your work.
a. Getting started on Facebook
Out of all the social media platforms, Facebook is hands down the largest social network. With approximately 2.93 billion monthly active users, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t promote your freelance business on this platform.
To get started, create a professional freelancer Facebook profile from scratch and keep it separate from your personal account.
- Make sure your profile picture is a nice, clear headshot of yourself.
- It doesn’t have to be a glossy studio image, but it should be nice and clean.
- This is your first impression in these groups, so keep it neutral.
Next, join relevant Facebook groups for freelancers. There are tons of Facebook groups for all kinds of people.
- Figure out where your ideal clients might be hanging out and talking about their needs, and then go there.
- People who are active in these groups get to know each other’s niches and specialities and can help you snag a gig that’s not for them, but a great fit for you.
- The same goes with freelancers with too much work — they’re more than happy to share the love with their fellow freelancers.
- Forums like these also provide a safe space to ask for advice on pricing for a project, brainstorm ideas for where to find clients, or just vent about a client who just doesn’t understand boundaries.
As your freelance business grows, you might consider investing in Facebook Ads. Keep in mind that Facebook Ads are shown to people who are just browsing – it is a passive ad platform.
- A typical Facebook news feed sponsored post can pop up to your audience, but not in the mindset that you want your audience to be. Most people are not aware of you as a freelance business owner, so your aim should be to introduce yourself to your target audience.
- You can educate your subscribers there on why you’re a good choice as a freelancer and how you will get the work done. Use photo and video ads to boost engagement as they accumulate 104% more comments and 53% more likes than text posts do. These promotional campaigns will drive people to your website, where you can also grow your mailing list.
Read More: Get your prospects to schedule a call with you right away. Here is how you can set up Facebook appointments on your business page!
b. Using visual content on Instagram
With its highly visual focus, Instagram can be a great way to capture the attention of those in your niche, particularly if you work in a creative field. You can use it as an unconventional portfolio, helping to showcase your work and grow your audience.
Your account should be registered as an Instagram business profile. Not only does this change provide your profile with a tag that indicates you’re using this profile professionally, but it also provides insight into the analytics behind your accounts.
Make sure that your bio section and your profile picture accurately reflect your offerings. Your bio will be what people see and read before looking at your posts, so it should quickly explain your qualifications and services.
In order to market your freelance business on Instagram, you need to develop a strategy behind your posts to establish credibility, and regularly engage your audience.
- Instagram profile posts are the best way to establish your authority in your industry. Use Instagram posts to show off your work and create a connection with your audience. If your services are visual-based, make sure to highlight the best work you’ve done for clients through your posts.
- Using Instagram Stories is a great way to provide temporary posts and further the connection between you and your followers. You can use them to further educate your clients about the work you do, give a behind-the-scenes tour, or ask questions about the content you’re already producing.
- Instagram Live is a feature on the app that allows you to record video live and have followers tune in. This type of Instagram content is great for educating your following and having Q&A sessions. Don’t surprise your following with an Instagram Live. Make sure they know about it beforehand by using normal posts and Stories to build hype.
Use your captions to add to the image and engage your audience by providing insight into your work. Make sure that the copy of your caption provokes conversation or likes by asking a question or asking for your audience to share their thoughts.
Do research on Instagram to see which hashtags your desired clients are likely to be using or following, and start incorporating those in order to be found. Keep in mind that if a hashtag has over 1 million posts you’re not likely to be found if you use it.
Pro-tip: A great way to use hashtags is to find people to follow. If you’re focusing on local clients, you can find accounts by searching # + (your nearest big city) + (your industry).
Active posting helps keep your brand relevant in the minds of your followers. You want to make sure they are familiar with you before you reach out. To ensure the best performance, you also need to make sure to post at the right time.
There are general guidelines as to when is the best time to post, but your Instagram business account also allows you to see when your followers are most active. Use this information when planning posts.
Read More: Make yourself extremely easy to get in touch with. Learn how to add a book button to your Instagram business profile!
c. Leverage LinkedIn for outreach
When you create a LinkedIn profile as a potential employee, your goal is to let people know that you have the skillset and experience they need. Your goal as a freelancer is much more direct. Your goal is to tell prospective clients that you can solve their problems.
As is with any social media channel, you need to optimize your profile. Use the word “freelancer” and use the most important keywords in your industry in the body of your profile. If you’re new to freelancing and struggling to write a professional headline, start with something as simple as:
“I help _________ (do) __________ so they can __________.”
Once you do have some freelance experience, use the body of your profile to go into more detail about what sets you apart, link to your website, as well as highlight any stand-out projects or clients you’ve worked with.
LinkedIn posts are a great place for you to generate attention, and also generate trust. They help you prove that you’re connected to your freelance niche and understand the environment your potential clients face. If you run a blog post, share it on Linkedin as well, to potentially gain more views, comments, and attention.
Use the ‘LinkedIn jobs’ tab to see what companies are taking on new projects and create a freelance prospect list for yourself. Perform searches based on your preferred industry and skill, to see what opportunities currently exist.
Use platforms like Hoovers, Crunchbase, ZoomInfo, etc. to see what kind of money they’re working with, and continue with additional research if the job looks lucrative to you.
Follow this up by connecting with people of specific positions in companies you would like to work in. For example, if you’re a freelance content strategist, people of interest for you would include the Director of Marketing – essentially anybody who is a decision-maker in the organization.
d. Use Twitter to promote your services (and yourself!)
Twitter is a great platform to promote your freelance business, enhance your personal brand, drive traffic to your work, and stay abreast of industry news. You just have to follow a few rules specific to professional creatives.
If you’re creating a Twitter account to use as a content creator, use your real name. Don’t create two Twitter accounts — one personal and one professional — unless your personal Twitter is private and doesn’t have your name or email attached.
Your feed doesn’t have to read like a LinkedIn profile — in fact, make sure it doesn’t! You should post content you want people to like on Twitter, but you should also pepper your feed with opinions, insights, and updates on your professional activity.
Use humor to develop a relationship with your audience. Put in the work to build a strong personal brand and what you put out will come back to you — followers will send you tips, resources, story ideas, and who knows what else.
There’s a good portion of prospects who search for people by keyword. If you have in your profile’s bio that you write about tech, AI, and data security, tag a couple of publications where you’ve contributed your writing. There’s a good chance you’ll pop up whenever someone searches for those terms.
Pro-Tip: Tweetdeck allows you to schedule irreverent or non-timely ideas for tweets later in the week. That way, you can stay present in your life without dipping out of the action.
If you publish an article that you want people to read, there’s nothing wrong with tweeting it out a few times within a span of a couple of days, as long as you change your post every time. It’s very common for writers to post a link “for the night crowd” or with “ICYMI” (In Case You Missed It) in the copy.
4. Nail your personalized client pitches
For many freelancers, pitching is how they get the majority of their clients. This is especially true for freelancers just getting started who may not have the network of referrals or retainer clients needed for a full-time income.
Knowing your niche or ideal client will help to make your pitches more targeted and more successful. When you know at least a few basic things about your ideal client, you can tweak your pitch to fit their reality, which will help them connect with you. Ask yourself who you want to work with.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What industry are they in?
- What size is their company?
- Where are they located?
- What is the job title of the person who is most likely to hire you?
- What is their budget for a project like yours?
- How often would you like to work together?
When you personalize a pitch, make it strategic. Do some research on the business or the person you’re emailing. See if they’ve attended a networking event that you also might have a connection with or if they recently shared something on Twitter that you agree with.
If the client has published an article, case study, or other news that you can comment on or offer feedback on, use this opportunity to personalize your pitch. That way, your email won’t get lost or forgotten about.
Don’t make the mistake of sending a pitch that solely focuses on you and your strengths. Sure, it’s important to prove to the client that you’re experienced and capable, but it’s crucial that you focus on highlighting their biggest obstacles and how you can help solve them.
- While including work samples sound like a no-brainer, you should also consider including testimonials or contact information for references.
- Some clients ask to speak to references anyway so this could save some time and accelerate the hiring process. In other cases, it just adds to your credibility.
The idea of serving before you collect is important in running a business, including offering freelance services. While no freelancer should ever work for free, you can provide prospects with a taste of what you can do to make your freelance pitch stand out.
- For example, if you’re a writer, offer 2-3 topic ideas that you’d love to write for the potential client. If you’re a graphic designer, see if you can send some branding tips and custom ideas during a pitch.
- Another example would be to send some grammar/ editorial improvement suggestions if you’re an editor, or an SEO tip that the client can take action on ASAP if you run an SEO consulting business.
Finally, pitching is a numbers game. The more you do it, the more work you’ll get. You will have to figure out what works best for you and try to hit that goal every week for three months. You could start with something like this:
- 1-2 pitches per day if you’re freelancing full time,
- 3-5 pitches per week if you’re freelancing on the side
A call to action or CTA is a critical part of your pitch. The definition of a CTA is:
A piece of content intended to induce a viewer, reader, or listener to perform a specific act, typically taking the form of an instruction or directive (e.g. buy now or click here).
You shouldn’t send your pitch asking your potential client to buy now as it’s a sure way to land in the spam folder. However, you should give them a reason to reply. Asking a relevant question at the end of your pitch is a great way to close your email. This will inspire your potential client to act.
You will get to a point where you can slow down with your pitches, as you’d have built a network of clients who are bringing in repeat work or referrals – but don’t stop completely. Keep up with your outreach efforts to expand your practice and look for more creative ideas to market your freelance business!
5. Request reviews and referrals from clients
The power of social proof is growing in many industries, and the freelance space is no exception. Considering that around 84% of people trust the opinions of other consumers online, it’s clear that freelancers have a lot to gain by using client feedback as a marketing tool.
Regardless of what you do, whether it be writing or graphics design, web development, or photography, there are plenty of questions that you will be able to ask your clients to get feedback and reviews.
Here are some basic questions to ask:
- What made you choose us?
- On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the service you received?
- In which aspects did we meet or exceed your expectations?
- What areas need to be improved?
- Would you recommend us to others?
Note that the last question can lead to a request for referrals. Even if you can’t get direct referrals to new prospects, it’s worth asking your clients these types of questions. The only potential problem is that you may deter people by asking too many questions, and that could result in you struggling to get any useful feedback.
Read More: Positives of negative feedback? Learn how to respond to bad reviews the right way!
Personalization counts, and therefore, if you make the efforts to engage your clients outside of your email inbox, you may get much better results. There are plenty of ways to get feedback aside from email, such as:
- Direct – either by phone call or video conference.
- Surveys – while you can email them a survey relating to their specific project, it’s also possible to run a public survey on social media where clients, freelancers, and other people can contribute.
- Feedback boxes – these can be displayed on your website or LinkedIn.
In the end, more personal and thoughtful interaction will give your client a platform to express their thoughts in greater detail, and you can ask follow-up questions immediately.
You may even consider reward programs. The key is to offer something to both the referring client and the potential brand who might need your services. Here are some incentives you might decide to offer:
- x% discount on a follow-up project for an existing client if they refer you to another brand
- y% cut of client’s month services for a freelancer that recommended you
- z% cut or a special discount for referred clients to take advantage of during the first month they work with you
Even if it’s just a quick email, don’t forget to acknowledge referrals when you get them. A gorgeous, personalized card will go a long way towards making that referral happen again and again. Bonus points if you call out what you really love about your new client.
6. Blog to enhance your business brand
Although not every freelancer’s blogging strategy will be the same, it’s undeniably necessary to have a cohesive plan to kickstart your efforts.
A blog plan should have details about:
- What you want to share: Sample ideas for blog post topics, interviews with thought leaders in your industry, press releases, case studies, etc. Remember: Your blog can be for more than just sharing blog posts!
- How often you want to share something new: Posting a valuable piece of content at least once a week is necessary for most blogs to take off, but it’s even better if you can commit to blogging even more frequently.
- A social media strategy: You’ll use social media to promote your blog, so be sure to have accounts set up for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, at the very least, and create a posting schedule to share each blog post.
- Lead generation: What free stuff can you give to potential clients who visit your blog in exchange for their email addresses, like an eBook or a discount? Plan out how to feature your special opt-ins in your blog posts to gain new email subscribers for you to send relevant information about your business.
Doing research on your potential audience is a crucial part of building a blog that caters to that group. One of the best ways to learn more about the people who will be buying from you is to research your competitors who are already doing well in the industry.
Ask yourself questions such as –
- What type of content do they share on their blogs?
- How often do they promote that content through social media or ads?
- What social media channel do they use most?
The point of a business blog is to offer incredibly valuable content for your target audience. The better you do at giving potential customers what they need and want through your content, the likelier it is that they’ll trust you enough to purchase your products or services.
Now that you have created a buzz around your content, how do you convert visitors to prospects and perhaps even clients? This is where lead magnets come in.
Lead magnets are anything that trigger potential customers to fill out a form for more information or add their email address to your list. Browse some of your favorite blogs in your industry. How many do you see with a lead magnet, like a swipe file, planner, a quiz, or an audiobook download?
Pro-Tip: You can offer lead magnets within your blog posts, on your sidebar, or even as a pop-up as soon as someone enters your site.
Valuable giveaways can increase the number of people who subscribe to your email address, making it easier for you to target already-interested people when you have something awesome you want to share in an email.
You could have some of the industry’s best content on your blog, but if there’s no guidance for readers to know what they should do with the information they just digested, then you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity.
A call-to-action is what will point your visitors in the direction they should take based on each page of content. A blog post outlining the reasons you might hire a virtual assistant might link to your contact page for visitors to learn more about your assistant services.
Finally, think of your blog as a stepping stone to all the various parts of your business. One piece should be your network. A blog can be an excellent way to build a network of other industry professionals who are interested in your business.
Turn on comments for your site so visitors can share their thoughts on your content. Respond to those comments, making sure you take the opportunity to provide value by answering their questions, offering more help, or linking to your resources.
As the last piece to your content strategy, consider Content Syndication. Content Syndication means republishing the same piece of content — an article, a video, an infographic, etc. — on one or more different websites.
Here are some examples of how content syndication could help you maximize your outreach:
- Republish your latest or best-performing content on bigger websites, with more readers and higher authority than yours. If your main goal is to increase your brand awareness, then syndicating on major publications is the way to go.
- Syndicate old content on websites that have roughly the same audience and authority as yours. It’s a great way to let their readers discover more content on your blog and generate new leads.
7. Grow your outreach with email marketing
Email marketing might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking of marketing your freelance services, but here are some reasons why you should consider it:
- You’re able to appear more professional in the eyes of prospects since you appear more like a brand yourself. This lets you command higher rates because you can present yourself as the go-to expert.
- When you start email marketing as a freelancer, it may open some new doors for your business. For instance, many freelancers have gone the route of freelancer-turned-consultant. Others have decided to offer passive income courses and products that bring out their expertise.
- Having your own email newsletter as a freelancer lets you capture prospects who may hire you in the future. When you send them high-value emails that show off your industry knowledge and your clients’ results, you’ll likely be on the top of their minds when they have a need.
When you’re first starting to build your list, get clear on your goals. Set targets for the number of new subscribers you might want each month, then determine what outcome you want from your list.
These are some questions you can ask yourself to set your goals:
- How many conversions are you aiming for?
- What do you want people to do after they sign up?
- What should new subscribers know about you right after signing up for your email list?
- By how many people do you want your list to grow every month?
- How many discovery calls do you need to book each month to sign your target number of clients?
If you’re already running a portfolio site or a blog, then you’re primed and ready to create a custom email. By using a custom email, you appear more professional, especially when you start sending out emails to your list.
Next, focus on personalizing your email content. This can be as simple as calling subscribers by their first name in your emails, or even mentioning their company names, or sending them highly targeted content from your blog. You can take this personalization to the next level by crafting user journeys for your subscribers.
A very useful email marketing automation for this purpose is sequences. Sequences are a great tool for busy freelancers since they guarantee regular emails and newsletters for your email subscribers, all on autopilot. You can stay connected with potential clients and nurture them enough before sending them through a sales funnel.
- So after a user opts into your email list in exchange for a lead magnet, you can take them through an email sequence with the goal of nurturing your relationship with them.
- In this sequence, you can provide exclusive tips they can’t find anywhere else, as well as case studies and testimonials from previous clients who loved working with you.
Other ways you can use sequences in your freelance business can include limited-time offers and promotions during off-peak seasons, or testing out a new client package or program. These sequences can be a series of emails that are designed to help you book more calls or instantly make more sales, whatever your goal may be.
Last but not least, pay attention to your email marketing analytics to see how you’re doing. Over time, you’ll see ways you can improve your campaigns, your lead magnet, and your overall marketing strategy.
- A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a marketing experiment wherein you split your audience to test a number of variations of a campaign and determine which performs better.
- In other words, you can show version A of a piece of marketing content to one half of your audience, and version B to another.
Make the most of A/B tests to determine subject lines and templates that do well. Check which send times get the most open rates. Test different CTAs to see what gets the most clicks and conversions.
That’s a wrap on freelance marketing strategies to grow your business!
Your biggest takeaway should be that your client’s journey doesn’t really end after you’ve delivered your services. It is not every day that a person hires a freelancer, but the likelihood of the same client coming back to you is fairly possible. Additionally, they will refer you to other people in the meantime – this is the loyalty you want your marketing and subsequent services to lead to.
Following up and keeping in touch is key to retaining customers. Doing this will make sure you build long-lasting client relationships, and your business will continue to grow bigger and better. Keep in mind that there is no one size fits all strategy for this. The client landscape is extremely dynamic, which just means your strategies and plans have to adapt to them.
And what better way to keep up with the time, than to use technology made exactly for that? Appointy is one such online scheduling software that has inbuilt tools that will help with marketing in the freelance industry along with other features that help with your daily admin tasks.
With a booking page set according to rules that you specify, your clients can view your availability in real-time and self-schedule meetings with you. The appointment is visible in the calendar app of your choosing, complete with a Zoom link for added efficiency. Join our community of 55,000+ professionals who trust Appointy all around the world!
We hope these freelance marketing ideas help you grow your business and foster long-lasting client relationships. All the best!
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, and resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day.
If you have any thoughts on this blog or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
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Thanks for this great guide! I’m a freelance content marketer/writer on Perfectlancer and this has been a roller coaster. The biggest deal is finding jobs and stable income. But after all, you will be your own boss and you can set your own working hours.
Thanks, Pedro! Definitely, there are struggles involved but after all you are your own boss.