True story, I once let a dentist work on my teeth that had bad breath. And I have to say I questioned his abilities. Why am I starting this post by talking to you about my dentist and Halitosis?
Because, just like you do not want to hire a dentist with bad breath for their “expertise,” a client may not want to hire you as a freelancer if you are not displaying your skills on your own marketing channels. Ouch. It’s a harsh reality I know.
Have you been so focused on client projects that your own website, social media, and branding have been neglected?
You’re not alone.
You want to do the best for your clients, but when you are working as a freelancer you are your brand. Potential clients will often look to your personal brand as an example of what you can do. Freelance copywriter. How’s your copy? Graphic designer. How are the graphics looking on your website?
If not that great, don’t worry. I’m guilty too. There is time to improve. Your content marketing does not have to be perfect. After all, you have clients to take care of, right? But with a strategy, you can keep up your own content, representing you and your brand well, while also keeping your clients’ projects as a high priority.
Rather than looking at creating your own content as a waste of time, think of it as a way to market yourself and show your skills. By focusing on some key areas, you can attract more clients, more of your ideal clients, and maybe even eliminate that feast-or-famine cycle.
This will take work to get set up in the beginning, but once you have systems in place, your strategy will be much easier to maintain over time.
Focus on three key areas in your content marketing strategy for your freelance business:
1. Your online presence
Your online presence includes your social media profiles and your blog or website. It’s the equivalent of a beautiful storefront that pulls you in from the outside. Anthropologie anyone? If your online presence is outdated and far from thriving, you can turn it around. A great place to start is with your ideal client. Maybe your business has grown and developed over time. That’s normal.
Evaluate your current presence by exploring what you have online and asking yourself these questions:
- Is my online presence up to date with the growth I’ve experienced?
- Am I set up to actually reach my ideal client?
- Would my ideal client resonate with what I’m sharing?
Let’s say you want to write copy for hotels. Is the content you are putting on online helpful to those that want to market their hotel? Are your headers and graphics representative of this audience?
Find out what content would be most helpful to the ideal client that you want to reach, and start sharing that. Find out where they are hanging out and what they are searching for. Use the words they use. You can find the words they use by following them online. The more you get to know and resonate with your ideal client, the more effective and profitable your online presence will be.
Once you start creating content for your ideal client, you can repurpose that content into multiple forms and schedule the distribution. A video could be turned into a blog post then converted into an audio file for a podcast and then turned into a PDF for your email list.
Learning how to start with a core piece of content and repurpose it to use across platforms will save you so much time and effort. Another tip is to stagger the content. What you share Wednesday on Twitter, you could share Friday on Facebook. You will likely reach a different audience that way. Just be sure to respect the platform you are on by adjusting the content slightly. For example, hashtags are great on Instagram, not so much on Pinterest. The @ sign may not cross over properly from Twitter to Facebook. Adjust and reshare.
Bonus tip: You can set up a Google alert to see how your brand is performing online. Head to https://www.google.com/alerts and then type your online name or brand name into the search bar, then select how many times you want to receive a notification, and create an alert. You will now be informed when your brand is mentioned alone.
If you do not want to receive alerts, you could search your brand name on Google once or twice a month to see what comes up for your brand.
As the former editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine Chris Anderson said,
“Your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is.”
Improving your online presence may involve Google, but remember that it involves humans more. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten to be social on social media. It’s about representing you and your brand, but it’s not about pushing a pitch. Connect with people. Be authentic. Your personal brand is not just about you. It’s about what you have to offer others.
2. Your portfolio
Your portfolio can be a part of your online presence but it deserves a step all it’s own because it is that important. Don’t have an online portfolio? You can get a free CV Portfolio here.
Keep your portfolio organized and up to date and also in the direction you want to go. To stick with our hotel example, if you are wanting to write for large chain hotels but your portfolio only has work about pet care, you are not likely to get the work you desire.
If you are pivoting your work from one niche to another, you may not have the perfect samples yet. But do your best to showcase the work that is in line with the work you want to do whether you are a writer, designer, artist, or have another area of expertise you are showcasing.
If you have multiple niches, you can organize your work into different categories.
And don’t forget that your Bio is a key area to summarize your skills and let your ideal client know why they should choose you. Make what you do clear and concise.
You may not be seeking big-name investors like on Entrepreneur’s Elevator Pitch series, but you are selling yourself and your business to potential clients. How quickly and clearly can you explain what you do?
There may be other freelancers who do what you do, but they do not have your exact story and experience. It’s how you do it and what you bring to it that can make you stand out. Think about it.
3. Your email list
You may feel that freelancers don’t need an email list. But this could be a key component to your business success. The person most likely to hire you is the one who has already hired you before and was happy with your work. But, in our busy online world people forget.
Growing an email list is a way for you to not only draw in new clients to your business but also stay in touch with past and existing clients. As with your website and social media, you will not keep followers long if every email is a sales pitch. The key is to offer value while keeping your services in the client’s mind.
To get subscriber’s on your list, you can offer a free giveaway, but it needs to be relevant to your ideal client in order to work. Think of something that your ideal client wants or needs that you have to offer.
A simple idea could just be gathering the answers to the top three to five questions that you are asked and putting them together in a PDF. You make it easier on yourself, send the link rather than keep emailing answers, and you’ve listened to what your audience wants.
You could also create a training or video around one of your top questions. Think of something that adds value and complements the work you do. If you are a graphic designer creating social media graphics, you could create a quick video showing clients how to use those graphics effectively in their social media feeds.
If you are a copywriter, you could create a quick training on where to put certain copy on a home page to increase conversions.
Offering something valuable like this that is extra makes you stand out and be recognized for the knowledgable professional that you are.
Once you have clients and potential clients on your list, you can continue to offer snackable content for them that gives value while showing your expertise that you don’t share other places.
- Rather than use a newsletter template, write text like you were writing to a friend but with a more professional spin.
- Occasionally share your services and how you can help but focus on benefits.
- Use your email list to educate and build trust.
Focus on this trifecta to create a schedule and strategy to grow your personal brand while attracting your best clients. The work can pay off big time.
“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” Tom Peters in Fast Company
Remember, you evolve and your personal brand can evolve too. It takes time to grow and figure out what you really want for your business and life. Don’t be afraid to try new things and make adjustments along the way. Happy strategizing.