How to Promote Yourself as a Freelancer and Get New Clients
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In-person interactions are HUGE, and it works.
One of my biggest clients at the moment is a friend of mine for over 15 years. We began working together 3 years ago. Prior to that we honestly didn’t think or talk about the possibilities of doing business together. Little did we know and thanks to my partner, we opened it a year after I start working as a freelancer. When we visited him in New York (where he lives and works) in late 2016, I was excited to share my company news, how my podcast had grown and what I’d learned. He was intrigued and we hit it off over casual conversations. Fast forward 3 years later, I rebuilt their company website, introduced an online process for their music competitions, and to expanded their reach internationally. As I’m preparing this blog post, I’m also working on their first online course which we strategized and produced together.
This is a long-winded way to say that you should never overlook in-person interactions. I understand it takes a lot longer to arrange an in-person meeting, but it can be surprisingly beneficial when you do it. To start, I suggest scheduling a few in-person meetups a few times a month when you start freelancing. For distanced relationships, Zoom can be a great alternative to see each other on-screen while catching up.
Update your new company and job title as a freelancer
When you become a freelancer, you should update your “About section" and describe your new company and job title. If you haven’t incorporated your company or choose not to, simply use your name for the company name such as Julia Clinger, and title such as “Freelance Digital Marketer”, or “Freelance Writer” whatever you choose to work as a freelancer. See examples below:
Make your email visible.
It’s an easy thing to do, and you should include your email in your About section so people can contact you directly. This way you don’t have to only rely on LinkedIn messages.
Publishing articles on LinkedIn
If you are blogging on your website, Medium or other websites already, you can repurpose them for LinkedIn. LinkedIn does favor articles more closely related to careers, hiring, productivity, management, freelancing, etc. If you haven’t written about these areas, simply start! Everyone can teach something and share what they’ve learned at a previous job, or small successes they’ve had working independently. You’ll be surprised how it resonates with others.
Turn on Career Interest: Let Recruiters know that you are open to ready to be hired.
See example below. Career interests can be found on your profile page, as well as: https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/career-interests/
Personally reach out to people
Pick out 10 connections you are familiar and had good relationships with clients, colleagues, friends in the industry who know you well and let them know that you’ve started freelancing. It doesn’t need to be a long message, but do give them a sense of what you are planning on doing next. The content should be friendly, scannable, but also not pushy or desperate.
Example: Hi ____, How have you been? I’m writing to let you know that I’ve (finally) taken the leap to become a freelancer. The previous company I was with [name] allowed me to hone in on skills such as _______. I’m also interested in learning new things in these areas _______. I’m working with a few recruiters at the moment, but I’m even more excited to reach out to my close connections like yourself. If there are any needs in your company, please let me know. I’d love to keep in touch! If not, it’ll be great to catch up over coffee or a phone call. Sincerely, _________
Don’t spam people
Follow the step above, pick your first 10-20 connections, build “warm” leads, and write them personalized messages. This is much better than sending the same message out to your 500+ contacts on LinkedIn who may or may not remember how you are connected.
A lot of people are concerned or have mixed feelings about recruiters. There are really good and not-so-good ones out there. The good ones actually listen to you and try to build a longer-term relationship with you. The not-so-good ones try to talk down your rates, rush you off a call to check things off their list. Here’s an article on some of the best practices while working with recruiters: https://www.topresume.com/career-advice/5-tips-for-effectively-working-with-a-recruiter
Should you have a website as a freelancer?
Yes, but not the reason you think. A personal website is not a requirement to start working as a freelancing, but it can really help you organize your thoughts, your services and what makes you stand out.
In order for your services to stand out as a freelancer, you need to understand and acknowledge the pain in the industry, get clear on what you are offerings and why your solutions/services will make a difference for your new clients.
To make your subject matter stand out, even more, consider writing eBooks, checklists, offer tools and resources on your website
During your downtime as a freelancer (this can happen at the beginning, or after you’ve been working for 6 months to a year, you can create a course. Seriously, I never thought I could teach publicly, but my free course Reaching Billions: How You can Podcast on Ximalaya.com reached hundreds of people already. Because it’s a niche market, people are willing to pay premium rates to hire me as a consultant where I get to charge my highest rate for strategy consulting.
By the way, I’ll be developing a video on How to build your own freelance website using Squarespace in 30 mins If interested, you can sign up for our newsletter and we’ll announce it as soon as it’s ready feisworld.com/newsletter. Or you can hire us to build your website in 2-4 weeks.
Start an email list
It took me years to start an email list. This was the biggest mistake made during the early days of the Feisworld Podcast
Today I use ConvertKit for my newsletter and more targeted content for people interested in freelancing, podcasting and making their first DIY documentary film.
When you build your website, it’s a great idea to start an email list even if you don’t have any content ready in mind to share with them.
You don’t even need to pay for a service to start an email list. Simply email your contacts and let them know you’ve started freelancing and you’ll be sharing your learnings in an infrequent email list. When they say “yes”, just add them to a Google Sheet for now.
Content creators, take advantage of your own platforms
If you are a content creator (podcasters/bloggers/YouTubers), you must take advantage of your platform, because people are already discovering your work.
Podcasters - talk about your new freelance career as part of your voice intro, mid-roll ads to let people know what you’ve been up to, perhaps dedicate an episode to talk about how and why you made the decision. These messages can be broadcasted on a weekly basis in addition to your other messages and ads
Bloggers - you can write and create new content related to freelancing (just like this mini-series)
YouTubers: talk about yourself as you transition into freelancing, it’s great material because freelancing is the new economy. Your audience is interested in your channel but they are also interested in you.
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
Social media can be hit or miss when it comes to promoting yourself as a freelancer. (It’s different and can be more effective for creative entrepreneurs)
Nonetheless, remember to update your social profile details. This is useful whether you use social media for personal or professional updates.
When people search for career coaches and if that’s part of your profile name, you’ll become much more searchable. It’s as simple as to include Fei Wu | Podcasters and marketers in my profile name (see screenshot)
Be mindful about what you post. If you find it challenging to mix personal and professional content, you could definitely consider opening a new account to separate the two, but it’ll also more time to maintain. As for me, I have a virtual assistant who manages social channels for Feisworld (my public profiles). This leaves me to only my personal Facebook page and LinkedIn, which saves so much time.
Other places to get freelance work
You’ve probably heard of Fiverr.com, Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, these are good resources when you are starting out especially when you are trying to new and test new skills. Check out this article: 12 Places to Find Freelance Work Online: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/find-freelance-work-online-2072051
Otherwise, it’s best to start with the steps above, competing with the masses trying to land a profitable freelance gig.
Hey it’s Fei, I’m so glad you found me!
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