Failure to market at the right time is one of the biggest mistakes a freelancer can make. When you’re busy, it seems there’s very little need to promote your services, but that’s just the time when you should do it if you want to make sure you have no slow periods. Market when you’re busy and you will be able to take your pick of interesting projects. That won’t happen if you wait until you are desperate for any job. Marketing is a year-round activity, but that doesn’t mean it has to be hard work. There are two ways to market – actively and passively – and a combination of both will get you the best results.
[Caption: good marketing combines having your skills on display and actively promoting them]
Passive marketing is the stuff that you do that, once it’s done, keeps on working for you. Your website is a key part of this as the hub that all your other marketing efforts target. A freelancer’s website usually incorporates a bio, work samples, resume, testimonials and a contact form. You don’t have to change those often if you get them right. Work on SEO so that people can find you and you have your ultimate passive marketing tool. Other ways of marketing yourself without too much effort include: putting a link to your site in your email or forum signature with an enticing call to action and setting up professional profiles on freelancers’ sites. You need to make sure that your stuff is wherever your potential customers are. Anything that you set up where you are waiting for people to find you is passive.
Another way to market actively is to be active on social media. And it has to be active, otherwise no one will be interested. Just to make it clear, this is not about pushing updates to social media sites without a strategy. It’s about talking to people and interacting with them. It’s about providing what they need, where they need it and when they needed. To make active marketing rock you could:
- Set up alerts for updates about the your areas of interest and expertise
- Use tools such as SocialMention, Addictomatic and Alltop to see what’s happening in the moment, so that you can be responsive and timely
Active marketing also involves mailing your past clients to tell them about new services, asking for testimonials and referrals or just keeping in touch. You might do this via a regular newsletter or a simple email to keep your name in front of your potential clients so that you’re in pole position when an opportunity arises.
Attending and speaking at networking events also fall into this category.
Where Does Blogging Fit?
Some marketers see blogging and guest blogging as essentially passive while others consider it active. This shows that it straddles the divide between both types of marketing. When you guest blog, you have to spend time developing a relationship with the blog owner and your responses to comments actively contribute to their perception of you. After that, the blog post becomes another part of your passive marketing arsenal, there whenever someone is looking for your services. That’s why it pays to be strategic about where you blog and what you include in your bio.
How Long Does It Take?
What many freelancers worry about is how long this all takes. For some, the holy grail is 50% of you work life. Others whittle it down to a couple of hours a day (or less). If you already have your passive marketing entities set up and have them linked in your email signature and forum signature, then they are working for you all the time. Responding to the alerts you already have set up need not take more than 30 minutes a day and crafting a good guest blog post or writing a newsletter article may take an hour or so. Over time, you will get to know which activities bring in more customers, allowing you to focus on those tasks. You will then be able to map them out so you have a focused marketing campaign for your business and keep the work flowing in.