For content marketers, freelancing can be a great way to make additional income on the side. You can freelance for just about any industry, so long as you avoid any non-compete issues.
But getting started can be a bit like the chicken and the egg conundrum. It takes having clients to attract clients, right? Finding clients is the most important step, after deciding what kind of work you want to do.
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To build a client base and score freelance work, follow these six tips.
1. Choose a Niche
Before you can seek clients, you need to select a niche to focus on. It can be a hobby, passion, etc. Ideally, you should pick something you’re an expert in, plus matches your personal brand and blogging voice. And preferably your niche should be in high demand to ensure you’ll have a market for your content.
Let’s say you’re a skilled technical writer. There are many tech businesses that need dry, technical blog posts and ebooks. Great, you’ve got your niche. Now look for an audience that seeks the type of content that matches your skills. This same approach works for blogging for boutiques,creating visual content for a local business, etc.
2. Build Your Network
Networking will help you build connections that will lead you to potential clients. To build your network, join relevant social media groups, participate in Twitter chats, attend conferences, and develop a relationship with businesses in your area who may need your services.
Partnerships with other freelancers is another great way to build your network. Perhaps you’re a blogger who can provide the text, and another freelancer can handle the visual graphics. Partnering up with other freelancers whose work complements your own will help increase your client base.
Sometimes, it's all in who you know. You never know when a professional connection might turn into a job.
3. Market Your Services
Building a network is just half the battle. You need to know how to effectively market yourself, too. When freelancing, especially as a solopreneur, you have to attract your own clients to keep your business alive.
Build an online presence for your side business by using social profiles. Depending on your target audience, this can include LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Also invest in a website (even a simple one) so prospective clients have a place to learn more about you, see samples, and contact you. Don’t forget to update all of these accounts regularly, too.
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Old school email is another way to market your service. Just be careful you’re contacting people that already have an existing relationship with you. Sending unsolicited emails is a TCPA violation that can incur hefty fines.
Also if you’re sending out emails, don’t write something generic to send out to multiple businesses. By writing a personalized message, it shows you care about the individual and will pay attention to them. Give context and reference their business and the value you can provide.
4. Do Your Homework
Before meeting face-to-face with a potential client, do your homework. Familiarize yourself with the client’s business, potential pain points, and needs. Then plan out a proposal tailored to the client. Also craft some exploratory questions to help you get a better feel for the client’s expectations including deliverables, timeline, etc. That being said, don’t be pushy.
While you should definitely share ideas and benefits that you could bring to the prospect’s brand, don’t forget it’s about what the client needs. You may have a great idea for a YouTube video, but if the client’s target audience is on Instagram, they’re not going to care.
Always keep your samples relevant. Perhaps you’ve written blog posts on a topic related to their business, or have an example of a successful social media strategy that could potentially work for them. It shows your potential client that you have thought it through and have an understanding of their niche. They’ll be able to see you’ve taken the time to research them, which all clients appreciate.
5. Ask for Testimonials/Recommendations
It’s simple: you can’t expect to be hired if your work is subpar. High quality content is important to your prospective clients, and many will ask you what type of work you’ve done. Ask previous (and current) clients if they would mind writing a testimonial for your website. If you don’t have a client base yet, ask a trusted colleague or mentor if they would mind writing a recommendation for you on your LinkedIn profile.
If a potential client knows you produce amazing work, they’ll be more willing to hire you. And if you continue to put out great work, you might be on for a long-term gig. And remember, if you satisfy your clients, they’ll be more likely to refer you to others they know.
6. Don’t Forget to Treat it Like a Business
If you want to make this your full-time job, you’re going to have to treat it like one. Be available to your clients and allocate enough time in your day to be productive in your work. You don’t want to slack off and make yourself unattractive to potential clients. You want to look professional and responsible.
You might have mastered the art of content marketing, but without clients, your business can’t flourish. The key to content marketing is to bring value to your prospective clients by producing quality work that will help grow their business (and yours, too)!