How to Market Yourself
Unfortunately, most high-paying freelance jobs aren’t listed on Craigslist. But you still need to build a pipeline of high-paying work that holds up over time. What’s a freelancer to do?
If you can understand that your career depends on making a sale, then you’re already a big step ahead of other freelancers. You’re running a business, and businesses need marketing. With the right strategy, you can start a marketing machine that saves you time and brings in more revenue.
Reach out to potential clients and introduce yourself and your services. This can be done with a letter of introduction or an message from a mutual contact. Think of it as a pitch, but instead of pitching an article idea to a publication, you’re pitching your services.
Networks like LinkedIn and Twitter make it easier than ever to get in contact with people. But the best way to meet new clients fast is by attending networking events, local industry meetings, and conventions.
Embedding yourself in the industry that you want to serve is one of the savviest ways to build a business—and the only way to find out what your potential clients need. Once you know how you can help, you can spin your skills and make yourself an asset.
“Know your niche, know your community, and get ingrained in that community,” is something I always say when building a product or service.
When meeting potential clients, it’s important to show off your unique personality—both online and offline. Mike Long, a freelance speechwriter and educator, knows his “hillbilly accent,” his intelligence, and his background as a standup comedian make him especially memorable to potential clients.
“People don’t want serious, they want interesting. Being weird helps me,” he said. New clients hear about Long in “the strangest ways.” Maybe they’ve seen a YouTube video of him teaching a seminar on writing. According to Long, people remember him as more than just a talented writer. “I just cast my name everywhere while being a memorable cat,” he added.
The power of the follow-up
It’s one thing to attend an event and put your business out there, but it’s another to follow through. It's important to follow up with every connection we makes. We jot down notes on each business card so we can remember details about the person and their conversation, then connect via email after the meeting.
But the follow-up doesn’t stop there. Those relationships need to be nurtured. After we make a connection with a potential client, we'll send them an interesting article, offer tips, or call up every once in a while. Once hired, once our tremendous work is implemented—we ask for referrals.
The referral is the advanced version of the follow-up, in which you ask a happy client, “Do you know of anyone else who may need my services?” The client may be able to refer you to a friend or someone internally to a different department within the same company. Every connection you make has a network; ask to be a part of it. It’s free and effective. And if you do great work, you may not even have to ask—they could just send someone your way.
In order to ask clients to confidently refer you, you need to build a strong reputation. That means consistently producing outstanding work. A few years ago, we landed a huge technology client—and then kept collecting more. It turns out CEOs like to hang out with other CEOs. Word spread about the quality of his work, and we reaped the rewards. But we believe scoring a referral is about more than just talent.
“I’m incredibly nice—nice will get you much further than smart,” he added. “Businesses like to be with people who are reliable, friendly, and fast.”