Marketing is the task many freelancers seem to hate the most.
Sure, they love their craft and do good work, but many don’t seem to enjoy the job of getting out in front of new prospects and converting them into clients. There seems to be this perception that all you have to do is hang out your shingle and BOOM!, you're in business — Almost as if new freelancers all hear a voice whispering, "If you build it, (t)he(y) will come." like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams.
The problem with that is it simply isn't true.
<tweet-link>If you don’t actively market your business, you won’t have a business.<tweet-link> That's why marketing is essential for every freelancer. And, creating and sharing the right content can help grow your freelance business because the right content helps you connect with prospective clients and collaborators, positions you as the only choice for your potential customers, and encourages repeat business and customer loyalty.
Now it’s time to show you how this works…
When you're a freelancer, it's easy to fall into the habit of only marketing your business when you need clients—but that's shortsighted, and it could be preventing the work you want from coming in.
Just as with any other kind of marketing strategy, your marketing efforts should be consistent and ongoing. You shouldn't sit back and wait to be discovered; you have to do some legwork and bring new people into the fold every so often. <tweet-link>Your freelance business is a lot like a little puppy dog with big, brown eyes—it might look cute at first glance, but if no one pays attention to it for long enough, it'll go away.<tweet-link>
Simply being good at what you do is not enough to have clients knocking down your door.
A long-standing marketing rule of thumb is that people need seven ‘touchpoints’ before they’re ready to buy. That means they need to be exposed to you or your messaging seven times.
More recent data suggests you need more touches than that.
When asked about sales, Mike Schultz, President of the RAIN Group said,
"According to our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, it takes an average of 8 touches to get an initial meeting (or other conversion) with a new prospect. But the initial meeting is just the beginning. It takes a lot more to make the sale.”
What’s even worse is that most of your potential customers have done a significant amount of research on possible service providers before you even speak to them!
This is because the Internet has changed how we decide what to buy. Google calls this online decision-making moment “the Zero Moment of Truth, or ZMOT”. The ZMOT is the moment in the buying process when a consumer researches a product prior to purchase.
Google's research found that, “whether on your website, social media or in-person, a buyer will spend seven hours, on average, researching your product, looking at reviews, comparing the competition and consuming content about your brand, across 11 touch points and in 4 different locations before they are ready to make the all important decision to buy.”
That means you need enough content to be part of the conversation when potential clients research the service you provide. And you should be publishing this content consistently because you never know when your future customer is having their ZMOT.
What happens when freelancers market inconsistently?
The answer: nothing good.
Inconsistent marketing leads to five results for freelancers:
And that’s not all…
With this shift in consumer behavior, it's important to have a presence online where people are looking for help.
I see new freelancers make this mistake all the time. They're so focused on their work, they fail to realize that people will have a lot of trouble finding them if they don't get online and promote themselves.
You need to be visible online.
Because 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine. That’s why successful freelancers create high-quality content that helps them rank in the search engine results.
You can use resources like The freelancer's guide to getting found online to help you create awareness and form relationships.
You may or may not have a track record of getting results for clients. Whether or not you do, you need to make sure you’re trusted online.
It's understandable that you feel a little nervous about showing off your work—you don't want to come across as overly-promotional, but also keep in mind that for people making decisions about hiring freelancers they need a reason to trust that you can do what they need you to do—and to hire you over someone else.
In their 2019 study, Trust and Disintermediation: Evidence from an Online Freelance Marketplace, Grace Gu and Feng Zhub found that enhanced trust increases the likelihood of high-quality freelancers being hired.
According to a 2021 Content Marketing Institute survey, 88% of marketers have successfully reached their goals of creating brand awareness and building credibility and trust through content marketing.
When you consider all these factors, using content to market your business is the smart play. Content marketing is 62% cheaper than traditional marketing and produces 3X more leads than paid search.
Also, don’t forget about the other benefits I mentioned earlier. Content can help you connect with prospective clients and collaborators, position you as the only choice for your potential customers, and encourage repeat business and customer loyalty.
Now we come to the heart of the matter — Here are six kinds of content that you should be creating as a freelancer (and why):
As a freelancer, it's important to stay on top of your content game. That's because content helps you build your brand—and good content can help you land gigs. If you apply this advice, you will see results before you know it.
Blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise and attract clients. It has two major benefits: the first is that it can help you reach new potential customers—freelancers with blogs tend to have more clients than those without them. And the second benefit is that it can help you retain existing clients. Even if a client doesn't need any new work done, they may appreciate your keeping them informed about industry changes, trends, or news related to their project.
A blog is a website where you share articles, photos, your thoughts about a particular subject with, and other forms of content with your audience.
Recent data shows there are approximately 600 million blogs in the world. It also shows us:
For example, Leslie Patrick Moore, a freelance writer whose work has appeared in top print and digital travel magazines, publishes a blog called The Chic Adventurer, which chronicles her adventures as an American journalist and author based in Mexico and traveling the world. So far Moore has visited 49 countries and counting!
Takeaway: Your first step is choosing your blog topic. Next, its time to get your blog online. To do this, you'll need two things: web hosting and blogging software.
If you're not already using social media for business, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
The term "social media" refers to websites and applications that emphasize communication, community-based input, interaction, content sharing, and collaboration.
People use social media to stay in touch with friends, family, and members of various communities. The largest social media networks include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. According to data from Sprout Social:
And, experts expect these numbers to increase.
By 2023, the number of social media users in the United States alone is forecast to increase to approximately 257 million. The number of people using social media worldwide is expected to increase from more than 4.26 billion people in 2021 to almost six billion in 2027.
The first step is to decide which social platforms you want to use, then set up compelling profiles to describe your services.
Takeaway: Right now, 59% of the global population use social media, a 5.1% year-over-year increase. And all those social media users “overwhelmingly trust other users as their “preferred” form of influencer, most likely to buy from them based on a product recommendation (37%) versus celebrities (7%)” according to data from Bazaarvoice. Take advantage of these trends by coming up with strategies for getting your current customers to recommend your products and services on social media.
You've probably heard that email newsletters are the most effective way to communicate with your audience. But did you know that they can also be a great way to grow your freelance business?
An email newsletter works better than social media or other platforms at building a relationship over time with prospective clients.
An email newsletter is a periodically-sent email that informs your audience of the latest news, tips, or updates relating to your products or services.
If you plan to start sending out a newsletter, you’ll need to decide on your topic, tool (ESP [Email Service Provider]) and timetable (publishing frequency).
Start by figuring out what you want to talk about. Your topic is whatever it is that you have expertise in—usually related to your business or industry. If you're not sure what that is, think about your niche:
You can create your newsletter using any basic email program, but ESPs make it easy to schedule and create new issues of your newsletter, track subscribers, and manage different email addresses. There are many options out there—some free, some paid—and most of them have similar features. Some popular ESPs include:
Do your homework and choose one that works for your style and budget.
Takeaway: Although having a lot of social media followers may make you feel popular, your newsletter is considered owned media because it’s content published on a channel that you create and control. Your newsletter is also a direct line of communication to who signed up to hear from you.
Testimonials and case studies highlight your expertise in your chosen field and are an important way to document the positive results you helped create for your clients.
Testimonials and customer case studies can help you build trust by showcasing social proof.
A testimonial is a statement from a past customer that describes how a product or service helped them. Testimonials are often written by the business based on specific questions they ask satisfied customers. They usually show impact through before-and-after comparisons or provide specific improvement statistics.
A case study is a summary of a real-life business scenario where steps are taken to solve a problem effectively, using a specific practice, product, system or a service.
Take a look at freelance graphic designer Chris Koch ‘s case studies.
If you want to see some examples of real freelancer testimonial pages for inspiration, check out 20 Freelancer Testimonial Pages to Inspire Your Own Wowing Showcase.
Takeaway: Testimonials and case studies are two of the most effective forms of social proof because they show your prospective clients how you’ve gotten results for people just like them. If you don’t have any case studies or testimonials, reach out to someone you’ve worked with in the past and ask them if they’re willing to share their experience working with you.
A well-designed freelance portfolio is one of the best ways to display your work, topics of expertise, and skills.
A freelance portfolio is a website that displays images of or links to your past work (or, if you’re just getting started, to your samples). To see what one looks like, take a look at Small Business Trends' article 30 Portfolio Examples for Freelancers.
Freelancer Austin Iuliano says, "Many freelancers don’t even have their portfolio together in a single place. This blows my mind because it is your single greatest asset."
Takeaway: There are some great articles on the Moxie blog that dig into exactly what you should include in your portfolio. Review some of the resources below and get started putting together a portfolio that shows off your best work.
Done right, a website's "About Me" page and bio can go a long way to helping you land the freelance clients you want.
A well-written About Me page introduces people to you and your work in a way that's more personal and professional than what Facebook or Twitter posts alone can accomplish.
Here’s Moxie’s About Us page:
A bio offers an even more in-depth account of your background, experience, and accomplishments while also highlighting any unique traits or qualities that set you apart.
Both come in handy when you’re creating social media profiles, guest blogging, or appearing on podcasts.
As a general rule, you want to always write your bio in the third person. If you want more details on how to write a bio, freelance writer, blogger and speaker Addie Zierman has some great tips on creating an effective bio. You can also read Michael Jung's article How to write a freelancer bio that attracts clients to discover the five elements of a job-winning freelancer biography.
Takeaway: Your About Me page and your bio are not only a wonderful opportunity to promote your brand, they’re prime real estate for talking about who you help and how. Taking some time and putting together an About Me page for your website and a bio is a wise investment in your freelance business.
Having a consistent stream of relevant, helpful content is a critical part of being a successful freelancer.
Hopefully now you see how creating and sharing the appropriate content can help grow your freelance business. And now that you know exactly what content you should be creating to help you find clients and position yourself as the go-to freelancer for your specialty, all that’s left is to get started!
If you need help handling the admin side of freelancing, check out Moxie, the Freelancer OS™. It's a one-stop command center for growing your business, from capturing leads to tracking your earnings and every little thing in between.