Becoming a full-time freelancer does more than just enable you to say “I quit” to your nightmare boss — it may also make you happier than most part-time freelancers. According to the Freelancing in America: 2016 study, full-time freelancers felt significantly more respected, engaged, accomplished, excited to start the day, empowered and free compared to part-time freelancers. The study also found full-time freelancers work an average of 36 hours a week compared to the traditional 40-hours-per-week schedule.
If you only have a couple clients, going full-time can seem daunting, given you want to make at least as much as you’re making now. You need to build up your client base. While you can cold call, beg friends for referrals and send out email queries galore to get more clients, maintaining a strong personal marketing presence online is vital. Here are four easy ways to do so.
1. Embrace social media
You may hate Facebook or think tweets are dumb; that’s OK. You should still have a presence on social media channels. According to the 2016 Global Recruiting Survey by the talent acquisition service Alexander Mann Solutions and recruiting software company Social Talent, 37 percent of successful hires were found via social media. Nearly every recruiter (97 percent globally) uses LinkedIn to search for candidates, while Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest are also prime recruiting channels.
At the very least, do these things:
- Optimize a professional profile on LinkedIn with a current and relevant job title, summary of your skills and goals and recommendations from editors
- Ask past colleagues to recommend your expertise, which may make you more visible in LinkedIn’s algorithm and to recruitment searchers
- Beef up your profile with keywords related to your talents and the industries you want to work in
Consider posting professional freelance writer profiles on other channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Would-be clients may wish to vet you based on connections, check out your public posts or hire you based on your potential to share content on your social channels and bring more pageviews to their brand.
2. Create an optimized website
Some companies search for freelance writers via Google, and having a website optimized with keywords related to your niche can put you among the top search results. Even though page one results for “freelance writer” may seem painfully out of reach, if you think on a local scale and work to stand out in your community first, it can happen. Search Engine Land reports up to a third of local search business comes from non-local searchers. Apply this to your freelance business, and think that the national brands you may dream to write for may look for local writers some day for a campaign. If you want to write for Coca-Cola, and your name comes up when the brand searches for “food and drink writer in <your hometown>,” you could get the job without ever lifting a finger.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly, too. Google rewards mobile-ready sites with better mobile search results. Plus, a digitally minded editor who is searching for writers on a smartphone is more likely to appreciate and expect a responsively designed site, which is easier for them to use and read about the value you bring.
3. Blog, blog, blog
Part of increasing the search power on your website is including credible links throughout the site and making sure your site is backlinked on other credible sites. A 2016 study by link-building strategy site Backlinko found backlinks are extremely important to positive Google search results, since the number of credible backlinks correlates with rankings more than any other factor.
As a writer, the easiest way to garner positive links is through blogging. Reach out to the owners of blogs you love and read regularly. Tell them why you appreciate their blog and pitch them a story that’s relevant to their audience and provides value. Provide your content in exchange for a link to your freelance website in your author bio. Offer assistance in bringing pageviews back to their website by sharing the blog you write on your social media channels, which is another way to boost your online writing portfolio by showing off your writing.
Hosting guest posts on your website is another way to get marketing juices flowing for your brand, since contributors are motivated to share your links as well. The more engaging, shareable content you host on your site, the more likely those blog posts are going to come up in search results. Make sure every page on your website, including your posts, includes a lead capture tool. You can sign visitors up for blog subscriptions, email newsletters or for ebooks you publish.
4. Show off your passion for content
As a content creator who wants to get more clients, the more content you can share online and engage with, the more your passion for your work will be evident. To show off your latest work and make it searchable online, be sure to:
- Add it to your website portfolio
- Add it to your ClearVoice profile
- Link to it on your LinkedIn page
- Share it on social media
- Include it in an email newsletter
- Use it as inspiration for future pieces of content, such as a blog explaining how you created it or as a chapter in an ebook
Make sure whatever content you’re sharing online is relevant and provides value to the audience. You can even link to articles you’ve written within comments on other posts, if the content is highly relevant.
Speaking of commenting — an effortless way to network online and build up your personal brand marketing presence is to actively participate in digital discussions through commenting and forums. Often, a comment will allow you to post a link to your website, which can result in quick referrals to your brand. Some ideas include:
- Leaving thoughtful comments on articles, subtly conveying your expertise on or passion for the subject
- Participating in LinkedIn Group discussions on topics related to your favorite industries to write for
- Following social media accounts and blogs of brands and in industries you’d like to write for and commenting on their content
By devoting even a few hours a week to marketing yourself online, you gain new clients, be genuine and have fun in the process — without spending advertising money to gain new business.