More and more people are joining the freelancing ranks. This is often because jobs are scarce on the ground, companies have all the negotiating power when it comes to salaries and jobs don’t have the certainty that they used to decades ago. Jobs are not for life any more; far from it.
Employees are starting to realise that relying on a company to pay their wage, consistently, is a foolish thing to do. More and more companies are outsourcing to freelancers themselves to save on office space, furniture, telecommunications costs, staffing issues, and salaries; hiring people for single tasks or single projects is so much cheaper than the true to total cost of each new hire that outsourcing is just too tempting. With that benefit to companies, has a direct impact on job security.
As a result of these considerations, people are moving over to freelancing themselves in growing numbers. The tricky thing for new freelancers though is how to stand out in an increasingly crowded market.
You’re no longer competing with local staff and the odd out-of-towner who is applying for the same job as you. Now you’re up against all freelancers in your field from anywhere in the world. The market just got bigger and whole lot more crowded.
So what are the best ways to try to stand out from the crowd and get noticed? Here are a few of our best ideas to get your started.
Get Used To Having To Promote Yourself and Your Business
Being a freelancer means putting yourself out there. It means being willing to blow your own trumpet and stick your neck out. This needs to be honest rather than slip into hyperbole. You also want to avoid being critical of other people you compete against because it sends a bad message even if what you’re saying it true.
Often it depends on your nationality and also your personality whether you’re truly comfortable promoting your business. For Americans, they can usually have an easier time of it, especially if they’re the outgoing, gregarious type to begin with.
For the typically more reserved Brit, it’s much harder to push themselves forward and suggest themselves for a job because British people are known to be more reserved about themselves. The British culture and especially the national press, have a mentality of not making yourself too impressive because otherwise they’ll delight in knocking you down to size.
Either way, you need to get used to marketing yourself and/or your services, otherwise you’ll starve! Thankfully the days of needing to cold call are well and truly over, but you still need to use all available respectable means to get the word out without hounding people or upsetting them.
Make sure that you develop a brand over time. Whether that brand is your own name or a business name it doesn’t really matter so much. But try to get away from anonymous usernames on Freelance sites where you’re nothing but a number to people.
You need to distinguish yourself so you can stand out in their minds. People need to think of you or your business when they think about needing the type of services you offer, so getting your name or brand out there frequently is a necessary part of pulling in new business continually.
Own Web Site
It may be surprising, but many freelancers don’t bother to put up their own web site up to showcase their services. A web site can introduce people to you and the services you can offer to them. Samples or a portfolio of previous work are excellent ways to sell yourself.
If you have a team, then have a team section with photos of the people within the team, their unique skills, contact details and what part they played in the development of projects shown in the portfolio are great ways to bring the team more prominence.
A blog can include written content, videos and slideshows which can be another way to introduce your thoughts and ideas to a broader audience. If you aim content at what prospective clients would be interested in, not what other people in your industry would be interested in, then you’ll go a long way to inspiring the confidence that is needed for new clients to sign up with your business for their latest venture or project.
There are business pages and personal pages. A Facebook page can be used to update with posts exclusive to your Facebook account or with small reminder posts put up when you have a new blog post on your web site.
Facebook remains extremely popular and can be an excellent source of traffic. It’s also more likely that you will receive more Facebook Likes (positive votes) from people who visit your web site via Facebook, than with other types of visitors.
Google+ has gradually risen in prominence in the last few months. Whilst it’s not always seen as a valuable social media channel in its own right, the fact remains that the more people who join your profile (circle it), the more you’re likely to show up in Google search results.
For personalized results, this is ever more true. There is a real benefit to getting people to circle you as they’re far more likely to see the latest blog posts and other new content from you on Google+ when searching a related subject.
It’s also possible now to associate posts and articles that you write on your own site or posted elsewhere as guest posts, with your Google+ personal account. This tells everyone who cares, including Google, that you were responsible for that content.
Google develops a trust rating for you personally based on the quality of the content linked to and how many people view it and subsequently circle your account. There is an exponential growth factor here where the more you do, the more people see it, the more business you’re likely to get.
LinkedIn Profile Page
Make sure that you have a LinkedIn profile already setup. If you do, see if you can polish it up or add new items to it. If you don’t, then get to it. Potential clients are increasingly looking to connect with other people within the LinkedIn community to find freelancers who match their criteria rather than using one of the large, faceless Freelance sites.
LinkedIn Professional Groups
Join up with relevant professional groups to discuss what you can offer and to provide helpful advice. It’s quite common for people to be encouraged to work with people within their community of online people that they know.
If your business interest is more specialist which won’t benefit from a generalized approach to marketing, then look instead at writing a guest post for an industry blog which attracts the type of readers who buy your services.
If you cannot get a guest post slot, are there any advertising opportunities on the site instead? Whilst the cost of a small advert may seem high at first, consider how targeted the advert is to your core market. Even one sale conversion could be enough to cover the cost of the advert and then some. Run the numbers and see whether it’ll work for you or not.