Effective Marketing and Selling Strategies for Freelance Professionals
Freelancing presents some unique challenges, especially when you're just starting. Marketing and selling your services to get your first clients will be the big one, particularly when money and time are tight.
This article will offer practical strategies to manage these costs, leveraging the five-line business decision-making framework. We'll explore how to optimise your selling costs, including marketing, advertising, and selling costs, and guide you through a strategic approach to maximise your returns.
This is the third article in the business fundamentals series; the first two are here:
Understanding the Costs of Selling
The "cost of selling" encompasses all your marketing and selling expenses. It's the mechanism that attracts prospective clients who will buy from you.
When starting, your most valuable asset will be your "sweat equity", i.e., the time and effort you will need to focus on what you need to do to get your clients and then get all those things done. If you have enough money, you can use that to help you get moving with your marketing. As an older professional, your time is your most valuable asset.
The five-line framework will help you understand your business operations better. It outlines the money side of all the necessary activities that help run an efficient business.
- Revenue from product/service sales (which must exceed costs)
- Cost to make or buy the product/service (your time, including materials and contractors)
- Cost of selling (marketing, advertising and selling costs)
- Cost of running the business (rent, insurance, utilities, subscriptions and administration)
- Profit (revenue less costs)
When we talk numbers, this framework can shift into a tangible model, which we'll explore more in future articles.
Getting work and securing projects is much easier when your prospects have urgent issues that need immediate attention and for which they have allocated a budget. If you find a niche but are not up to speed to help them, you must develop more specialised skills as an integral component of your work.
David A. Fields nicely articulates this concept:
...stick to problems that are pervasive, urgent, expensive to leave unresolved, and resonate with your skill level.
Leveraging Your Network
Your personal and professional network should be your first port of call when looking for clients who could benefit from your help.
Individuals within your network are likelier to listen to your pitch or refer you to others who need your help.
That's why establishing and maintaining your reputation and being known for your expertise within your network is essential.
If this isn't the case, you will need to start beefing up the marketing of your services. It's much easier to connect through your network with those facing issues you can help with than attract strangers through your website.
Creating a website allows potential clients to explore your services, understand your expertise, and contact you.
There are lots of platforms now that you can choose from. My expertise has been with WordPress, and I have used Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly. You might even want to set up a simple, free website using Carrd.co.
However, be cautious when using AI website builders; the results can sometimes be inconsistent. I thought I would use one to rebuild my marketing services website: https://13thbeachmarketing.com.au. The result was ordinary, and I had to ask my developer to fix it, including replacing the weirdest images and awful text. I've only tried one, so there may be some better ones.
The level of ease of setting up these platforms varies. Dedicate time to understand these platforms and the cost of ongoing maintenance, or consider bringing in a professional to help you with the process to ensure a professional result.
While I still manage, create content, update, host, and provide monthly reports on 18 websites built with WordPress, I've started to look at what I think are better options for my clients that are cheaper to maintain and update in the long run.
Implementing Effective Marketing Strategies
Part of setting up your website means focusing on being discovered by search engines, mainly Google. SEO is vital, but it will take time to get you discovered. If you're starting from relative obscurity, a fast track to gaining visibility online is by trying to be as helpful as possible. Most people are searching for solutions. Many are looking for a DIY solution, but others might be interested in paying you to help them via consulting or an online course.
SEO is a long-term strategy. It can significantly boost your online visibility and bring free traffic to your site. Consistent content creation demonstrates your expertise and establishes credibility.
A good idea is to post your articles on your LinkedIn profile or consider guest posting on industry-relevant blogs. That way, you are sharing your knowledge and making it easier for potential clients to find you.
Besides SEO, here are some practical examples of low-cost or free marketing activities:
Networking: Utilise platforms like LinkedIn to update your profile, connect with relevant networks, and inform your contacts about your business. Okay, I must confess my ignorance of how LinkedIn can help accelerate your digital presence.
I wrote this article before conversing with Salina Yeung, a switched-on LinkedIn business Strategist. I've been a premium member for about four years and have seriously underestimated and missed out on how best to use LinkedIn. She was another brilliant guest on my Wisepreneurs Podcast, and her episode will be released. later in September.
What I realised was that I am a complete novice when it comes to LinkedIn. Her advice was that LinkedIn is a quicker way to get in front of potential clients than through your website. That's because it can take a lot of work and a long time for Google to send leads your way.
LinkedIn is already there and full of potential leads for your business. My advice would be to pay someone like Salina to get yourself up to speed while working on your website.
Email Marketing: Start building an email list from day one. Send regular newsletters with helpful information to stay on top of mind with potential clients. Reach out to your network for subscribers. Again, this takes time to write and to build up. You are competing for attention, and it's a tough call.
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Social Media: Use platforms where your potential clients will likely be. Share your content, engage with others, and build your online presence. I now recommend LinkedIn for professionals, but Facebook is very cost-competitive to advertise on if that's where your clients are. I've seen some good results for medical professionals or clinics.
As you secure projects and generate income, outsource some work to freelancers or subscribe to services to automate your marketing processes. Treat these outsourcing costs as investments to generate revenue through new clients.
David A. Fields, The Irresistible Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom
Seth Godin, Permission Marketing
Alan Dibb, 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand out From The Crowd.