You can be the best in what you do but if no one knows about you, your freelancing career is as good as dead (sorry to be so harsh, but it’s true). While many freelancers are obsessed with being web celebrities, there are ways to stay under the radar and still have a successful freelance business.
In this post, we share four methods that I can guarantee will yield results if you follow them and put them into action. I have also shared my personal story in order to give you an idea of why these four ways are key to becoming a successful freelancer or to creating any successful business.
Method One: Break Down Traditional Barriers
If you were at a conference or a meeting, you wouldn’t just start pushing your business cards into other people’s faces. Before sharing business information about yourself there is usually some initial form of communication.
If you are linking to your own articles or promotional messages constantly, that’s like throwing ads into people’s faces. You can’t think of your links as billboard or TV ads (that people don’t necessarily want, but are forced to see anyway). The Internet world doesn’t work like other media. On the web, people have too many options to be held captive by an advertisement.
Be generous and allow yourself to break the traditional barrier of always promoting yourself. Give to others, rather than always asking. You will soon see exposure, loyalty, and referrals coming your way.
Method Two: Share Referrals and Link Out Often
When it comes to promoting your freelancing services, it’s key to be seen by others in your field. If you are a freelance writer who is too busy to take on any more work, refer a client who is looking for a writer to a colleague who is looking for work.
Be sure to tell the client to let your fellow writer know that you referred them. When the other freelance writer finds out that you referred them, they will get in touch with you. When time comes for them to refer a client to someone, they will think of you first. Sharing referrals is a good way to build loyalty from other freelancers in your field and get your name out there.
Another key to getting exposure and marketing your services is through blogging. As you may already know, some people create posts with “must follow” lists of “designers, writers,” and so on.
When you mention someone in a post, they usually come back to thank you for mentioning them. You can also mention others in your blog posts by linking out to relevant articles written by others.
Freelancers are a community of like-minded people who work in different fields, but have similar goals. Help them when they are in need and they will help you to grow your business.
Method Three: Be Transparent
It doesn’t matter whether you are a corporation or a one-man team, transparency in today’s world is key. When you are using different social media and networking platforms, make sure you allow others to see the true you. Be yourself and do not try to sugar coat anything you are saying.
If your office is in the basement and happens to be a storage area, do not tell others you have a gorgeous beach view. What’s the point of lying? Sure you might fool some into thinking that you are doing well, but in the long run lying is not going to help. Be yourself. Do not sugarcoat things.
If you are not knowledgeable about something, but want to talk about it, don’t act like you are an authority on the subject. Being genuine has bigger rewards for you and your freelancing business than being a “poser.” Let your true self be seen so that your potential clients can see not just the work you do, but also the real person behind the work.
Method Four: Embrace Giving
This is a tried and true method. The key to building a thriving community around you and your freelancing services is giving to others.
We are all busy. We all have our plates full. At times, we end up sleeping at our desks. However busy you are, try to squeeze in a few minutes to reply to an email that asks for your input or tweet back to someone who has a problem with something that you might be able to help with.
One of the best ways to keep your name visible on different platforms is to be there when people need you. When someone has a problem and they turn to you, be there for them. If you can’t be there, at least direct them to someone who might be able to help them. They will be grateful to you for your help and your helpfulness will eventually get your name out there.
One last thing that I would like to stress — do not ignore someone just because they are new to blogging, web designing, etc. Help them when you can because when they succeed they will remember you as the one who helped them learn the ropes.
I would like to share my personal story before I end this article. I started blogging in August 2007. At the time, I had no idea of how things worked on the Internet. I could clearly see that I wasn’t going in the right direction.
For advice, I turned to Jonathan Phillips who also happens to be the founder of FreelanceFolder. He helped me out tremendously.
At the time, I worked from my basement. I would work at my full-time job twelve hours a day, then come home and start writing for other blogs. I did it all for free, just so that I could get my name out there. Jon helped me with the basics of the Internet and gave me a platform (FreelanceFolder), which at that time was only a couple months old.
Then I started using different social media platforms such as Twitter, Digg, etc. It worked. I got my name out there. In July of 2008, I was able to quit my day job and start working full-time from home. I also bought a house in September and my wife was able to quit her day job so she could spend more time with the kids. Remember, I had had no idea how freelancing worked just ten months earlier.
With the right people, the right attitude, hard work, and by lending a helping hand you will not only build your own business, but you will help others build theirs as well. All my work now comes from referrals. I always find myself short of words to thank all the people that have helped me.
Giving is the best way to promote your services. Today, if someone asks me to recommend a web designer, I always recommend Jon (and he does the same for me with clients that are looking for social media strategy and campaigns). We have worked together on projects countless times and have continuously helped each other.
My business is growing each day and I am planning to launch a company soon, but I will never forget my humble roots and will always be there to help anyone out, new or seasoned veteran, as long as it is something that I know about. That is the key to getting your name out there. It’s not about being famous; it’s about being someone who people can turn to when they need help. Be there for others when they need you and you will soon find your business soaring to new heights.
How Do You Get Your Name Out?
We’ve learned that if you fail to create awareness about your business through engagement with other people and through participation in social media, your business will only last so long before it fails.
I would love to hear your thoughts on different ways that we freelancers can get our name out there.
Also, it would be awesome to read about how you got started as a freelancer.
Finally, if you would like to thank someone who helped you out during your early freelancing years, feel free to leave a link to his or her site. I am sure that they would love to hear from you too.
Image by wlodi