22 January 2019 by Tali Ramsey You’ve set up your new freelance business (which is no easy feat), but no one knows about it. The first few phases of setting up a business are challenging, however, marketing and promotion is arguably the most frustrating leg. A good marketing campaign can kick start your freelance career, help you generate clients or springboard you into a new sector of work. So, once you’ve figured out your target market, here are some essential marketing tips for your freelance business. Build a Website with Marketing in Mind. Building a site might seem obvious, but how you build it plays a big part in its success. Does your site include a blog, vlog, services or tips page? Like coal to a fire, marketing relies on content, expertise and tips to build your reputation and drive traffic back to your site. Whether it’s video, design or written content, speaking on topics that your target audience will relate to will increase your business’ relevancy and exposure. It's also worth understanding the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) before you start producing content. It's a great way to generate organic traffic to your site. Tip: Before writing or filming anything, do a detailed audience analysis. Age, gender, interests, income bracket, etc… are all metrics that help you understand the type of content they’ll enjoy. Once you've done that, check popular blog sites (Medium) or video platforms (YouTube) to see the type of content that trends. Whether you opt for Weebly, Wix, Behance or something made by a professional website designer, having a website with a clear message and content to use as marketing material is vital for business promotion. Many creative freelancers want to express their vision in a conceptual way that confuses the visitor. Try not to be overly clever on the homepage and get your message across clearly. What do you do? Why should potential clients care? Let your work do the talking once they start browsing your portfolio. I am Social. Social media may feel like second nature to most but when it comes to marketing your freelance business, there are a few key elements to consider. It’s best not to use your personal account to promote your freelance business. If you do, make sure the content is relevant and avoid posts that confuse your brand or scare your audience away. Not all social media platforms are suitable for your freelance business. If you are targeting women aged between 18 - 30 interested in beauty, Instagram is going to be a better option than LinkedIn, for example. Before committing to a life of Tweets, Facebook posts, and Snapchats, make sure it’s the right platform for your audience. Freelance business accounts that are branded as a business, ie: using a business name and logo, are seen in a different light compared with accounts that use a person's name and photo. One advantage of using yourself as the face of your freelance business is that you'll be more accepted in conversations and engagements. You'll be able to start and join conversations more easily and create greater empathy with others. A business account must work a lot harder to generate a reputation. Not every post should be a promotion. Posting what is essentially an advert will rarely generate much traction unless it’s a promo, competition or giveaway and even then, it's not always valuable engagement. Social is great for showing your audience your work, showing your expertise and joining conversations. Be funny, controversial or informative. If your website link is easily accessible on your social account, they’ll find it. It’s not all about posting. In fact, the big wins generally come when you comment or engage on someone else’s post. Be genuine and join conversations that you are interested in. Think of a post on social media as a way to say hi to someone. You wouldn't walk away if they said hi back, would you? If you receive likes, replies or comments, engage with that person and strike up a chat. You might find your next client or add to your network. If you’re interested in boosting your marketing posts with paid promotion, set up business accounts on Facebook to test it out. We've found Facebook's Ad Manager to be unnecessarily complicated but the Boost feature on a Facebook page is a good way to test the water. Depending on your type of business and target market, YouTube, LinkedIn, Medium and Reddit are also great sites for promoting content. Tip: the key to growing any social media account is consistency. If you don’t have the time to commit to regular posts and engagements, don’t create an account - the client will see a dead account as a negative. Regular Contact There's lots of chat about the merits of mailing lists in today's marketing landscape. Some say it's making a comeback since GDPR put the Willys up everyone, others believe it's outdated. We think it's important to have a regular line of communication with your leads and customers. However, you choose to chat with them depends on your brand. Once you start to build a following, starting a mailing list provides a way of keeping clients up to date with your business whilst providing them with content that they find useful. Make sure you have their consent before mailing and always remember to include articles, giveaways or tips that your audience will genuinely find valuable. Embrace The Outside World Marketing does not only take place online. As awkward as some of them may be, networking events are beneficial for all business owners, both new and old. We regularly post events suitable for our members that we think reduces the cringe-factor. Eventbrite and Meetup are worth checking out too. You could spend hours online generating potential clients but nothing beats meeting someone in the flesh. People do business with people. Apps and innovative sites have revolutionised how we connect online but for most freelancers who provide a face to face service, the value is almost always found in person. Tip: when you go to an event, bring your portfolio (digital on a tablet or phone or a hardcopy) and business cards. If you're nervous about approaching someone, have an opening line prepared. Something as simple as 'Is this your first time at this networking event?' will kick start the conversation. Automate Freelancers are often on the go, whether that's on set, in a client's office or plying their trade in foreign lands. This doesn't mean marketing has to stop. Scheduling Apps like Hootsuite or Social Sprout are good. Also, check out Falcon and Social Bakers. They all do the same thing more or less which is enable you to write a bunch of posts that will be published in the future. Marketing is not an exact science. Understand it then break the rules.