Quality speaks for itself.
You’ve probably heard this slogan many times, and though I do believe offering the best possible quality is the only way to grow your business, it’s just one among many factors that will help you succeed.
In a nutshell, no matter how unfair it sounds, quality can’t singlehandedly land you new clients ready to pull out their cash and let you do your magic.
You need to promote yourself shamelessly and position your freelance business in front of the right people.
This can be a challenge, especially if you’re not particularly keen on blowing your own trumpet, but in my 10-year experience, I can tell you that modesty won’t get you very far in business.
So, let’s see how you can put yourself (and your business) out there and grab your potential clients by the eyeballs.
1. Ask for Referrals
OK, this straightforward strategy is one which allows you to actually leverage the quality of your work in order to attract new clients.
Namely, there’s nothing wrong with asking your existing or previous happy clients to put in a good word for you and recommend your services to their friends and business associates.
65% of new business opportunities come from referrals, and given that most people still trust recommendations from their friends and family, this tactic is really powerful, and most importantly, cost-effective.
To make this whole process as easy as possible, come up with a customizable referral email template so that the person willing to recommend your business doesn’t have to rack their brains and scratch their head trying to figure out how to best describe and promote your business – it’s your job to sell yourself.
2. Attend Industry Events
Nothing can replace good ol’ face-to-face networking.
It’s much easier to remember people if you meet them in person.
By attending industry events such as conferences, meetups and workshops, you’ll be able to connect with potential clients and other professionals from your niche, as well as from complementary ones, and build meaningful relationships.
You could benefit even more if you decide to share your experience and expertise and apply to be a speaker if you’re up to it. It’s an excellent way of establishing yourself as an expert in marketing, and you can bet that people are more likely to hire someone who’s well-known in the industry.
Always go to such events prepared, and bring a variety of branded materials, such as sleek, well-designed business cards or notebooks with your name printed on them, this is how I met the owner of Cube Digital in Dublin. That way, you’ll boost the effects of a favorable first impression with a potential client by making the encounter even more memorable.
3. Start a Blog
No matter what your specialty is, running a blog is a great way of showcasing your expertise and work.
Apart from giving you a chance to promote your business and allowing your potential clients to see a sample of your work, a blog is an excellent method of providing real value to your target audience.
Namely, relevant and tailored content that addresses your potential clients’ issues and interests in a helpful manner is a surefire way of attracting their attention.
Sharing is caring, so why not share some useful tips and advice that they can implement and improve their lives or businesses?
For example, if you’re a web designer, you can write about some of the most common website mistakes and help your potential clients spot them on their own sites. Or if you run a travel company starting a travel blog is a great way to promote your business.
A quick and easy DIY audit will not only let them see where they stand but also prompt them to think about your services.
4. Build Your Social Media Presence
Every freelancer and digital media marketer needs to have at least one social media profile.
Don’t underestimate the power of a medium which has almost 3.5 billion users all around the world.
Even if you’re not exactly a fan of Facebook or Instagram, these channels can be pretty useful for reaching your target audience.
They allow you to share your content and interact with your followers, all of which is important for your branding.
Besides looking up the companies and freelancers they want to hire through search engines, most people and HR officers will try to find them on social media.
This means that your profiles have to be regularly updated and professional.
LinkedIn is a must for every freelancer, regardless of the industry. It’s basically your ID and I can tell you that it helped me score a couple of clients without pitching my services – a combination of referral and social media marketing is a secret to a lot of freelancers’ success.
Social media management tools are indispensable. It’s OK to post something manually from time to time, but you need to fuel your social media marketing with enough posts and be very consistent about it.
That’s where these tools come in handy, as you’ll be able to schedule everything in advance and forget about it.
5. Try Guest Blogging
It’s not enough to write for yourself and your own blog.
Guest blogging is one of the most effective tactics for generating high-quality traffic and bringing potential customers to your website.
The trick is to find relevant and well-established blogs whose audiences might find your services interesting, and ask them to feature your blog post.
You’re probably wondering what’s in it for them, and this is something that makes you hesitant.
But there’s no need to worry as it’s a win-win situation – they get a high-quality blog post about something that their audience is interested in, while you get your promotion.
And as people spend a lot of time on the internet these days, most websites are craving fresh, interesting content and that’s your chance to send their readers your way.
Also, when you discover some cool websites that you’d like to feature your posts on, make sure to start providing comments and feedback on their existing articles, as that’s a surefire way to get noticed – and an equally good way of warming up cold outreach.
These five tactics have proven themselves to be the most effective for growing my writing and translation business. What’s even more important for a freelancing noob with a small marketing budget (or more likely no budget at all), they’re affordable and cost-effective. My final advice would be that persistence is the secret sauce. Don’t give up if things don’t pan out exactly as you planned right away, as it takes time to build a name for yourself. And the quality I mentioned at the beginning of this post should be a clincher and the crowning touch of your strategy.