Promoting Yourself As A Freelancer Doesn't Have To Suck
When you become a freelancer, one of the biggest hurdles you're more than likely to face is the realization that you are now your business. You are a brand, a product, and a service. And yes, in order to sell yourself you must promote yourself. For some, this comes naturally. For most of us, the thought alone just... well, it just sucks.
When I started freelancing in 2014, I already had a client secured and didn't think much about future work. That was my first mistake. The client was great and the work was steady for about eight months and then just like that, it ended. I needed to bounce back and fast but the truth is, people close to me didn't even know I had started freelancing because I never talked about it. Even if you have steady work now, there's no guarantee of what the future will hold for any form of self-employment. It's important to consistently promote yourself and your work to not only attract potential clients but also keep current ones excited to keep working with you.
It doesn't have to suck. And the sooner you stop fighting it and accept it, the faster you can start bringing in not only more work, but the kind of work you want to be doing. Here are some tips.
Get Over Yourself
I'm not a very negative person and I say this with love - you've got to get over yourself. I get that branching out on your own is scary enough, but in order to do the damn thing you've got to do it all. You are a freelancer! If you're not confident in what you're doing then why should any potential client be confident in you? And if you don't want to promote yourself because it's cheesy or you don't know how your friends will react or it's just not your thing - then you may want to consider another profession. This is a hustler's field and hustlers know how to self promote!
Embrace Social Media
We live in a content-consuming world and social media is where you have absolute freedom and control to put yourself and your business out there the way you want to. Plus, it's free! Instead of getting caught up in algorithms and follower counts, just have fun with it. The reality is you don't need a huge social media footprint to positively impact your business. When it comes to your social media, ask yourself these two questions: Does it reflect who I am as a business? Am I utilizing it to connect with potential clients?
Whether you use Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or all of the above to promote your business, continue to ask yourself these questions so your accounts actively portray what you want clients to know about you and ideally, reflect the kind of clients you want to attract. Social media is also a great tool for reaching potential clients directly. If you see an opportunity to connect and share more on what you can provide to their business, carpe diem!
Why we all suddenly become stereotypical used car salespeople when it comes to promoting ourselves, I will never understand; and I'll be the first to admit that I'm guilty of it. Sometimes when I am so excited or invested in something that I want other people to get behind, I oversell myself and people see right through that shit. In an age where every ad on the television is telling you to "do you" you'd think it'd come naturally but truth is, it takes work.
The best piece of advice I can give here is to keep it short, write the way you talk and practice, practice, practice. For example, let's say you're writing up a post for LinkedIn about a piece of client work you're especially proud of and want to share with your network. Remember, less is more. Instead of going for the mini-novel that breaks down your creative process and talks about the hurdles you had to overcome and blah, blah, blah. Try this instead, "I'm really proud of this one." It's short, it's sweet and leaves people wanting to know more. They'll click, they'll be impressed and then they'll call.
Consistency is the most important and often most overlooked part of self-promotion. You may find that you don't have many new things to share and that's OK. Believe it or not, you want to repeat yourself as much as possible to really drive your message. It needs to stick and that takes repetition and consistency. Find a schedule that works for you. Maybe it's once a day, once a week or even once a month. Whatever it is, determine your schedule and stick to it. Plan when you'll post so you can use your time to strategize what it is you want to share about yourself and your business.