Insights

How to Market Your Services to Optimize Your Freelance Income

By 
Karen Banes
Karen Banes is a freelance writer specializing in entrepreneurship, parenting and lifestyle. Her work has appeared in publications including The Washington Post, Life Info Magazine, Transitions Abroad, Brave New Traveler, Natural Parenting Group, and Copia Magazine.

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No matter how good you are at your chosen skill, it’s hard to make consistent income as a freelancer without marketing your services effectively. You want marketing in place that brings in a steady flow of potential clients, with a minimal amount of daily effort.

If you’re a new freelancer without an established client base, things get even trickier, but there are some really simple steps to finding clients, even if you’re starting from scratch.

Have Clear Price Points and Packages

When a potential client is looking for a freelancer, they want to know what they’ll get and how much it will cost them. Don’t be shy about letting them know, right from the start. It’s shocking how many freelancers don’t publicly post their actual rates anywhere on their websites or marketing materials. This can be off-putting for clients and even make you look a little shady. It’s almost as though you’re making your rates up as you go along.

It’s fine to have a page on your website called Rates, Prices, or Work With Me, where you clearly state what you charge for each service you offer. This is also a useful place to put together ‘packages’ that state exactly what the client gets when they sign up with you. If you’re working through freelance sites such as Upwork or Guru, you can include this on your profile, as well as in the specific ‘rates’ section many of these sites offer.

Make sure any packages you offer are as detailed as possible. If you’re a social media manager for example, don’t state your price for ‘running a social campaign’. Break down exactly what your client will get (How many promotional posts on each platform? How many paid ads designed and delivered? Do you take care of re-targeting, SEO, etc? Do you monitor engagement and respond to comments? Do they get a report on the effectiveness of the campaign? What metrics do you track and include in that report?).

It’s also fine to add that custom prices are available for custom campaigns. Then of course invite potential customers to get in touch to discuss their needs.

Develop a Portfolio

Describing what your clients will get is one thing. Showing them is another. Whether you are a photographer, designer, copy writer or web developer, clients want to see examples of your work to get a good idea what you can do for them. A portfolio is actually easy to build, as you don’t necessarily always need to show work you’ve done for other clients (though it’s great if you can).

If, for example, you’re a freelance designer just starting out, you can upload your own design work directly to your website. It doesn’t always have to be actual commissioned pieces you’ve done for other clients.

Ask for Testimonials

Testimonials are harder for complete newbies to obtain, because they require you to have actual clients that are satisfied with your work and willing to tell the world that. Start asking for these testimonials right from the start, and consider doing some free or cut-price work, early in your career, for people already in your network.

You’ll be doing this work with the specific aim of getting some testimonials, or even just one-sentence quotes, indicating that you’re good at what you do. For this reason, you obviously want to ensure that the work is top quality, even if you’re not getting paid for it. It will pay off many times over in the future. Just like you’re unlikely to buy a product online with no reviews, clients are unlikely to employ a freelancer with no other clients to recommend them.

Optimize Your Website

Some new freelancers spend way too long on their website. Ultimately, when you’re just starting out, you need a fairly simple website that tells clients what you do and how well you do it. You really do only need a few pages to start with:

  • An About page – detailing your experience and credentials in the field you’re offering services in
  • A Rates page – as already mentioned
  • A Testimonial page – even if you only have a few positive quotes to put on it
  • A Contact page – obviously
  • A Portfolio – which can be a page on your site or can link to an outside portfolio management system

What you do need to do is optimize your website for those who are searching for you. Be as specific as possible, because potential clients probably will be looking for something specific. So rather than describing yourself as a graphic designer, you might want to use a more targeted long tail keyword phrase, like “Book cover designer in Portland” or even “Specialist Fantasy Book Cover Designer in Portland”.

If you work remotely it might seem unnecessary to include your city, but there will often be potential clients in your area who want to work with someone local. If you live in an area where there are plenty of potential clients for you, then adding your city or state can sometimes help with bringing in search traffic.

Ask for Referrals

As a freelancer you’ll get some one-off jobs, so make sure you’re making the most of them. If your client is satisfied, and gives you a testimonial, the next step is to ask if they know anyone else who might need your services and see if they’ll refer you to them. Even if these new prospective clients don’t need you right now, connect with them and make sure they know who you are and what you can do for them. Maybe touch base with them occasionally to let them know you have openings for new clients, or are offering a new service that might be of interest to them.

Develop an Effective, but Streamlined Networking Strategy

Many freelancers spend way too much time networking, mostly online, but sometimes in real life too. Networking with prospective clients, whether it’s via social media or at an industry conference, can bring new work in, but most freelancers will admit it doesn’t work as well as the other strategies outlined above. Keep your networking time short, streamlined and targeted to be as effective as possible without wasting too much time.

Build a Highly Targeted Audience

This is linked to the point above. Too many freelancers spend time building an audience that’s too wide. They particularly seem to like connecting with other freelancers for example. This is fine if you are all learning from each other, supporting each other and passing on work to each other. But often that isn’t the case.

If you’re a freelancer looking to sell your services, you want to be primarily building an audience of people who want to buy your services. That is, businesses and individuals who employ freelancers, not just other people like you who are trying to sell their services.

Notice, I haven’t mentioned actively pitching your services here. There’s a place for that, of course, but it’s very time-consuming. Remember, your main aim with these strategies is to set up your marketing activities to bring in as much work as possible, with a minimum amount of daily effort from you.  That way you can spend the majority of your time ensuring your existing clients are satisfied.

Karen Banes is a freelance writer specializing in entrepreneurship, parenting and lifestyle. She writes articles, website content, ebooks and the occasional award winning short story. Her work has appeared in a range of publications both online and off, including The Washington Post, Life Info Magazine, Transitions Abroad, Brave New Traveler, Natural Parenting Group, and Copia Magazine. Learn More About Karen

To make Wealthtender free for readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Learn more. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers.
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