When you’re a freelance professional, there are many (daunting) tasks that you generally have to carry out on your own. These include accounting, financial management, planning, prospecting and – yes, you guessed it – marketing.
Fortunately, there are many tools that freelancers can use to market their services at zero or very low cost. Here are 5 free (or almost free) marketing tools that freelancers can use to promote their services to clients.
This one is rather obvious, I believe. Social media, if used correctly, can help you build a professional identity (or brand) and make you visible to a wide audience, which includes colleagues and potential clients alike.
Cost: only time. Building your online presence takes time. Keep your profiles alive and interesting. A blank profile with no fresh content won’t attract many people and will surely not give a good impression.
How to use it: first of all, keep it separate and consistent. Create professional profiles for your clients to find and follow you, and keep your personal profile separate. You might use your personal profile on Facebook for example, to participate in group discussions and keep in touch with colleagues, but you should have a separate, professional page – something that doesn’t require a friend request and thus access to your personal life – for your clients to find and contact you. Then, make sure that your professional image is consistent across platforms, and communicate accordingly.
Rather obvious too, I know. A website is basically your window on High Street Internet. You want it to show the best of you, and you want it to be as clear as possible.
Cost: less than £100 a year for basic domain hosting + cost of the web design (based on what kind of website you want). If you have some knowledge of web design, you might be able to make the website yourself and save the cost of design.
How to use it: keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm visitors with too much information, but make sure that all relevant information is there. Highlight your strengths, and use clear, simple (and correct) language. Make your contact details visible. For more visibility and a higher search engine ranking, publish fresh, relevant content on a regular basis (i.e. blog posts).
Trade shows and industry events
The fact that the Internet allows us to virtually meet people from all around the world in just a click doesn’t mean we should avoid human contact. Networking by attending trade shows and industry events is a powerful way to meet potential clients and grow your business.
Cost: cost of event tickets, transport and time. A lot of events are free to attend: with a simple Google search you can find all the events happening in your area. Conference centres websites (such as the Olympia in London) usually have a list of all the events they host.
How to use it: be professional, be yourself. The brand image you present on the internet should be the same as the one you show when you meet clients and colleagues in person. Act as a business person, speak your clients’ language and highlight the benefits that your services could provide them. Dress and behave professionally, and don’t be shy!
This tool looks a bit old-fashioned but can work miracles. You never know who will be sitting in front of you while you’re having lunch with your colleagues, for example: someone might overhear your conversations about your industry and show interest in your services. Handing them your business card might secure you a new client.
Cost: cost of design + printing. There are some online businesses (such as Vistaprint or Moo) that offer good quality for value and allow you to create your own business cards without needing any graphic design skills.
How to use it: this is rather easy. Hand in your business cards at networking or industry events, to people you know who might need your service, or to friends who know someone who might need your service. Always keep some business cards with you: as I said, you may meet a potential client while you’re having a coffee or lunch in a restaurant!
As mentioned above, the internet allows us to connect with individuals and companies all around the world in just one click. Researching potential clients in your niche and sending them a well-crafted email can be a very good source of business for freelancers.
Cost: time spent on researching potential clients.
How to use it: research, research, research! As I wrote in my article about how to find new clients, research is absolutely key for any freelance business. Spend time looking for companies and individuals who might need your services, try to find the name of the person who deals with service suppliers and address your message to them directly, when possible. Keep your email short, simple and catchy. Highlight the benefits that your services will provide to that person or company. Be polite, be professional, and spellcheck!