Fi Shailes
Guest Writer
Posted 6 months ago

Promoting your freelance business online? Do these three things.

It can be hard work to build up an online presence for your business and then maintain it – it doesn’t matter what your product or service is.

And if you’re running a freelance business and knee-deep in delivering services to clients, you’re probably also trying to keep spinning that ‘marketing’ plate in the background.

Right now, as you read this, you might already be of the view that it’s pretty tough to cut through all the noise in the marketplace. It’s hard to attract enough interest and engagement to… 

…generate those leads that…

…actually convert to custom.

I know this, because that’s been precisely what I’ve been dealing with over the past couple of years; freelancing part-time (alongside a full-time job), continuously spending time and effort building up a profile – using every tactic to drive traffic to my website. I’ve certainly learned a lot… And, guess what, I’ve been doing it all organically.

In fact, I’ve probably only spent about fifty quid on digital promotion (in total) since I started Digital Drum in early 2016.

If you don’t have a lot of time to spare, because – well, YOU’RE RUNNING A RUDDY BUSINESS, read on, because I’m going to cover what you should definitely be paying attention to when it comes to proactively promoting your freelance business online.

A note: It all starts with a strong website

Straight off the bat… before you attract any clicks to your website, recognise that it needs to be half-decent. It’s your base – your foundation for everything you do next, so if you’re in any doubt about its performance, spend some time on it – and if necessary – get a second opinion.

Because there’s not much point spending time driving traffic to your site if it’s a bit shit. Tied into that, is your SEO – this also needs to be up to scratch, so you have more chance of being found on search engines. Anyway, onto how to be proactive and all that…

#1 – Give your social channels the attention they deserve!

Beyond your company website, I’d say this is your next most valuable ‘owned’ platform type. Whilst you may be thinking “I may as well have a Facebook page for this, and a Twitter account, just to tick a box”, your social channels are not just for posting the occasional update. You need to be milking every last drop out of each platform’s functionality, maintaining them, and broadcasting content on a very regular basis.

Without wanting to sound like some kind of ‘digital rockstar’ t*sser, I’d sum up how you should utilise social media as follows:

  • Optimise
  • Engage
  • Promote
  • Connect*

*These do not spell some kind of secret word that means something.

Optimise

Apply your branding, populate as much of the ‘set-up’ of each channel as possible, and ensure that, across all of your social channels, there’s consistency of look and feel. You want people to recognise you, whichever platform they happen to land on.

Engage

Get involved in what’s going on. If there are relevant groups to join, join them (set one up, if it seems like there’s a gap). Respond to comments and shares on your stuff, share other peoples’ stuff. Help the odd person out, if you can really give them a hand. These are invaluable interactions which help you build a network of contacts and start conversations!

Promote

This is where you find a good status update scheduler (like Buffer, ContentCal, Beacon, or something else…) and ‘plug in’ a bunch of fully-optimised, punchy social media posts (for Twitter, take a look here for some tips). Your social channels should be firing out a decent frequency of posts from week-to-week. And for Twitter, consider scheduling for the day and night (remember our overseas buddies who are in a different time zone!).

Mix up your content types. Even stir in some credible third party content too, if you need some high quality ‘filler’…

Connect

In terms of building a following / building connections, don’t expect everyone to come to you. They don’t necessarily know who you are, or what you can offer them. They’re also drowned in a flood of content – just like you are. So, you’re going to have to make the first move, at least some of the time. It’s give and take. And remember, as the numbers grow, so does your maximum social reach potential.

#2 – Simply, create great content

I think the most effective things I’ve done to build a profile for my business boil down to:

  • Writing stuff
  • Publishing stuff (of my own – or a guest blog)
  • Promoting the hell out of that stuff.

It’s taken a while to gain some traction, but now I’ve receiving enquiries because people saw an article of mine somewhere, and they’re interested to talk to me about how I might be able to help them.

Simultaneously, industry peers of mine ‘get involved’ in a really positive way. We can end up exchanging thoughts and experiences with each other as a by-product of something I’ve published or posted. I’ve had some client referrals through these would-be ‘competitors’, and I’ve given them some leads too. It’s like some kind of invisible ecosystem. *dings finger cymbals*

Fantastic Mr Fox - Zen

Also, it’s simply a great feeling when people recognise you because of your content; whether it’s a blog, your memorable status updates, a video Q&A they saw… it all counts.

Get behind creating great content, and this will automatically impress on your audience that you know what you’re talking about.  

It’s really worth your time, if you can spare it.

#3 – Join yourself up to some dedicated freelance ‘portals’

Remember the Yellow Pages? No one uses that voluminous paper breezeblock anymore, but the concept of a ‘business directory’ is still alive and well – and it’s online.

Whilst simple business directories still exist digitally, the basic idea has now evolved into very-nicely-put-together, standalone freelancer portals like The Work Crowd, UpWork, YunoJuno, and the like. Some digital agency websites (like Croud, for example) also include a freelancer directory side to the site, where you can register as an associate.

Setting up a business listing on these kinds of websites is great way to let people who’ve never heard of you that you’re for hire, and most of the time, creating a freelancer profile is free. You only pay a ‘cut’ to the platform if you win a job.

And remember, these sites are extremely likely to hold more SEO ‘oomph’ than you when it comes to drawing in potential clients who just happen to type in ‘hire a freelancer’…

Good luck..!

 

Fi Shailes works as a digital and content marketing manager in the financial services sector. She has previous marketing experience in the arts, local authority and not-for-profit organisations. Fi freelances part-time at Digital Drum and hosts a digital marketing blog.

Twitter: @Fi_digitaldrum

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