Going the freelance route can be quite an exhilarating process. You drop the 9-to-5 workday in exchange for a whole lot more freedom and independence. But with this job track also comes the burden of management.
Personal branding and marketing is a big part of growing your own freelance business. You need to get your name out there into the world and hopefully reel in a few clients. It can be difficult, but I have offered a few ideas below which can get you off on the right foot. It’s best to plan ahead even with a small marketing strategy.
Once you put something in place to get the ball rolling things will only get easier. It’s important not to get discouraged and always keep pushing forward! There will be difficult months, but stay focused on the end result and you’ll pull through like a charm.
Determine a Branding
When you think of brands some popular mainstream franchises may come to mind. McDonald’s, Best Buy, Sony, Apple – these are all examples of big business. But small businesses and freelancers alike should have a style of branding. Even if it’s simply your own name and icon.
This step is crucial to begin with since it can affect so many alternate areas of marketing. At some point you’ll likely need to put up an online portfolio of work, maybe even purchase a domain name as well. Typically freelancers will purchase a domain under their own first & last name. But you could also come up with a creative company name and use this instead – whatever you feel more comfortable with.
The point is to build a solid brand and stick with it. It takes a lot of time to leak out your URLs into the web. So it would be a pain to change domains after 1 or 2 years of solid link building. Take note the type of work you do may also influence this decision.
For example, a freelance web designer may be more inclined to work under their own name. This makes their work easily recognizable by other potential clients. However a mobile app developer launching a few concepts may consider branding under a design studio instead.
Master Social Media Platforms
The fastest way to get your name recognized is through social media. Networking was performed in person for the past couple hundred years. But with the Internet technology has advanced so quickly that we can find each other from any point on the planet!
There are a handful of networks to consider joining right off the bat(excluding Facebook!). I even frequently scour the web looking for new startup ideas with strong potential just to get my account early. But we don’t all have time to signup for 20 or 30+ different social media platforms. So I put together a small compilation below of networks you may consider.
- Stack Exchange
- Design Snack
- Pixel Groovy
Google itself is also a very powerful networking tool. The company provides you with tons of free web apps which you can access all through a single account. Examples include Gmail, Analytics, Google Chat, and Documents. If you aren’t already using at least some Google products I recommend giving them a chance.
Network with Other Professionals
By far the best way to get yourself recognized is to connect with other people within the industry. You need to get yourself known amongst designers, developers, and webmasters all over the world.
There are a number of ways you may accomplish this. Some of the social networks I listed above are viable solutions. You may also post on forums and bulletin boards which can attract some attention as well. But my personal recommendation is to stick with a niche field and build up recognition there.
There are many different freelancers out there including graphics designers, illustrators, writers, marketers, and even programmers. When you have work to show it provides a jumping off point for getting your name linked around the web. Some of my favorite networks including Dribbble and Github showcase wonderful design and development work, respectively. These websites often include further contact details such as the user’s personal URL or Twitter account.
Always Keep Working
Even throughout this entire marketing strategy you should be trying to land some freelance projects. These are ultimately the works which end up in your portfolio and get shown off to future clients. And we all need money to pay the bills each month.
Never underestimate the power of landing an extra design job. This can be just the kick you need to build up a bit of credibility and positive buzz. Repeat customers are the best people to build long-term relationships with. They will value your work and often look to you for professional advice. Just don’t set yourself up swamped with work to the point where stress takes over!
Freelancing is all about relieving yourself from the hectic Monday-Friday work schedules. Take advantage of this and build projects around your own comfortable timeframe.
The process of marketing your brand will not build to a climax overnight. You’ll need to stay focused on the goal and continue sharing out your name for months, possibly even a couple of years. It’s a steady climb upwards but if you have the skillset to back up your ideas you’ll quickly build a powerful name for yourself.