The freelance market is becoming one of the most saturated markets right now. A lot of people want the flexibility that comes with working at home, which means that more and more of us are trying to make it at the moment.
Standing out in this very noisy freelancer marketplace can be very difficult. The biggest question is how to sell yourself as a freelancer so you can get the best clients and be able to charge what you’re worth.
So, here are 6 steps to sell yourself as a top-level freelancer and create a wave in the marketplace.
Discover Your USP
Having a unique selling point is one of the most vital aspects of being a successful freelancer. Understanding what you offer that’s different from everyone else is vital.
If you don’t know your USP, then how will you ever be able to actually sell yourself well at all? Especially in a saturated market.
Of course, identifying your own USP can be very difficult. But, there are a few steps you can take in order to work this out. And all of it involves research: market, customer, product research in particular. Then you need to then analyse it all.
- What does the current market and customer want?
- What is the perfect product in order to meet these needs?
- Can you make or provide it?
If you have the answer to these three questions and it’s the right one, then you have the perfect USP for your freelancing efforts.
Build an Outstanding Portfolio
One of your biggest selling points as a freelancer needs to be your portfolio. Full stop.
A client needs to make a decision when it comes to the freelance hiring process. But, what it ultimately boils down to is whether or not they feel you and your work is worth the money.
A bad portfolio, or worse, none at all, can tell them almost immediately that you may not be worth hiring. So, how do you work to build a good portfolio?
First, you need to pick the best platform. There are a lot of options out there on the market in order to host a portfolio – if your own website isn’t an option or financially possible – it just that depends on what you want to showcase.
Once you have the right platform, all you need to concentrate on is pulling together your best pieces in order to create an outstanding portfolio.
These should be your best, most impressive, pieces of work and put your best face forward for potential clients. Obviously, you may be a little biased when it comes to this, so potentially asking for a second opinion is important.
And once you have a good portfolio? Link to it. Put it on social media and basically try to get it in front of as many people as possible. That way you will be sure to draw in a better audience and a new potential client base.
Start a Blog
Having your own small projects to prove your abilities in your chosen space – whether that’s writing or otherwise – can be vital. A blog can be the perfect small project to help promote yourself.
It can help highlight your current work, showcase your skills and ultimately pull in new clients as a result. Particularly important if you happen to be an expert in a particular field.
Writing a blog gives you a chance to show off and create a personal brand. It’s not hard to learn how to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog and showcase your work on your own domain.
If a client is searching for something in particular and you happen to write a blog about it, then you immediately prove your value to them. And so you’ve already half-sold yourself before they have even potentially made contact.
Ultimately, in order to sell yourself well, you will need to improve your online appearance. And a blog is one of the best ways to do just that.
Use Sales Tools
There are a dozen or more free sales or marketing tools out there in the world. And so you should be using at least one of them when it comes to selling yourself as a freelancer.
One good tool, which is sometimes too quickly overlooked by freelancers, is that of email marketing. Platforms such as MailChimp are free up to an email list of 250 or so subscribers – perfect for your average freelancer just starting out.
An email newsletter is ideal for freelancers as it provides a level of professionalism, keeps you in contact with your potential customers, keeps current clients in the know and can be a persuasive tool to make that one potential client take the plunge.
So, even if you’re only just considering email marketing you should at the very least give it a shot. It can be a great ROI, especially as the initial price is free! The same can be said for a number of other free marketing tools.
Develop New Products
Every time you work on a new project, you will likely learn a new skill or develop a solution which you weren’t capable of before. Each of these new skills can then be pushed further to become a new product that you can now sell.
The more you grow your skill base, the more you offer as a freelancer, the more appealing and sellable you will become as a freelancer. One of the biggest challenges of freelancing is being able to push yourself further.
It’s all very well and good living paycheck to paycheck. But, at some point, you need to be able to look at developing something which will create a more steady income for you and your business.
Think about working with someone else. Turning your service – be it writing, coding, etc. – into a product can be difficult on your own. You will almost definitely need the added skills of at least one other person to make it work well.
Collaboration on this level can lead to the creation of a new product which could very well turn into something very worthwhile to your customers in the long run. So, don’t be afraid to team up and experiment in this way.
A new product doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as the services you sell either. You can easily develop an e-learning course, an extension for a website or even something as simple as a paid newsletter. This can offer news, updates and other useful things that people might be willing to pay for.
Basically, the more you have on offer, the better you will be able to sell yourself. So, get busy developing those ideas.
Ask for Referrals
Sometimes the best way to sell yourself is to ask your current clients to do it for you. This can be especially important if have provided a good service to the client, as their good words can win you a new long-term contract easily.
Of course, you shouldn’t be nice to clients just in the hopes that you will get a referral. Instead, you should make good client relationships a standard, as they are much more likely to then go on to recommend you to their friends, family and associates.
Of course, once you have a well-established or long-term relationship with a client then you can try and push for a referral. A quick, polite, email is fine for this.
Don’t be difficult or harsh with what you have to say, simply say you’re looking to expand your client base and if they have any relevant contacts you would be grateful for the referral. It’s simple, but can be extremely beneficial.
On the whole, selling yourself as a freelancer is all about good marketing. Which can be a little easier to do if you’re a marketing freelancer.
Keep your goals in mind, don’t be afraid to put yourself or your work out there and you may be pleasantly surprised by the results. Before long you could even have yourself a very successful freelancing business on your hands.
Dana Oliver is a freelance writer in the business and tech niche, promoting the hiring of more women in the tech sector. She covers topics including contentious probate, social media marketing and freelancing.
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