Becoming a successful freelancer is liberating. It’s an ideal pursuit for creatives who want to be self-employed.
You have the flexibility to choose your own projects, the freedom to work on your own schedule, and you answer to only yourself and your clients. However, freelancing isn’t without its drawbacks. One being that you’re responsible for getting new clients.
If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. This is why you’ll have to be proactive in attracting new business, especially if you haven’t built a reputation along with a loyal, repeat client base.
Here are four ways to get the word out about your freelancing services.
1. Build an irresistible portfolio
If you haven’t built a reputation in your industry yet, you’ll need to demonstrate your value to potential clients. This requires putting together a compelling portfolio of past work.
Make your portfolio available in physical form to bring to client meetings, and in digital form on your website. It should be as widely accessible as possible. If you’re just starting out or your best work is tied up in confidentiality clauses, then you’ll need to get creative.
Invent realistic samples which exist purely to promote your services. There is no ethical problem with this as long as you are clear that it is representative work. Don’t try to claim it as true commercial experience. The goal is to show off your skills. This can be done just as effectively with mock-ups as with true work history.
2. Become a networking zealot
Networking doesn’t come naturally for everyone. But if you want to kick-start a freelancing career you need to put yourself in front of prospective clients whenever possible.
Industry events, trade shows, local chambers of commerce, charity and fundraising nights all have the potential to seed profitable relationships. Always be on the lookout for prospects. Seize chances that come your way without being overly eager.
Weave yourself into the local business landscape rather than being in permanent sales-pitch mode.
3. Always carry business cards
A business card provides a tangible reminder of a conversation. It is more memorable than exchanging emails or promises to connect on LinkedIn. Make sure your business cards are attractive, memorable, and succinctly descriptive of the services you offer.
4. Nurture existing relationships
It’s far easier to gain repeat work based on previous successful projects than it is to land new clients. This is why you should always do the best job you can for every freelance assignment.
Treat each project as a long and profitable relationship; not a transactional project to be filed away. Keep a comprehensive contact list of past clients. Remind them of your existence via a monthly newsletter or a brief follow-up without being salesy.
Keep connections active by being creative. Ditch the sales pitch and ask for a testimonial, feedback on a project, or mention new ideas that could benefit their business. The idea is to keep yourself at the front of their mind should they require new freelance work.
Filling your schedule as a freelancer is always a challenge. For every highly successful freelancer there are several who never quite take off. Successfully marketing yourself and your freelancing services will ensure you become a long-term member of the first group. Meanwhile, these tips will help you do just that.
This article has been edited.
Angie Nelson has been a virtual assistant and blogger since 2007 when she took her future into her own hands and found a way to escape the corporate cubicle farm. Today she shares her passion for making money from home on her blog The Work at Home Wife. Visit her site to learn everything you need to know about how to make money online. Connect with @thewahwife on Twitter.