Six Simple Marketing Tips to Help You Grow Your Freelance Business

June 20, 2024
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Hey there, fellow freelancer! Let's chat about something that might make you want to hide under your desk: marketing yourself. I get it. You'd rather be knee-deep in anything else instead of trying to sell your services. But here's the thing – even if you're the next Picasso of web design or the Shakespeare of copywriting, it won't matter if no one knows you exist.

So let's dive into some marketing strategies that won't make you feel like you need a shower afterward.

Embrace Your Weird (AKA Personal Branding)

You know that quirky thing about you? The one your friends tease you about? It might just be your golden ticket.

Personal branding isn't about creating a polished, corporate version of yourself. It's about letting your freak flag fly (professionally, of course). Are you a graphic designer who's obsessed with 80s pop culture? Weave that into your brand. Copywriter with a passion for obscure historical facts? Make it your thing.

My friend Sarah is a freelance photographer who's built her brand around her love for all things vintage. Her website looks like it stepped out of a time machine, and her Instagram is full of behind-the-scenes shots featuring her collection of antique cameras. Clients don't just hire Sarah for her skills; they hire her for the unique aesthetic and experience she brings to every shoot.

selective focus photography of woman using white and black slr camera
Photo by Element5 Digital on <a href=httpswwwpexelscomphotoselective focus photography of woman using white and black slr camera 1051076 rel=nofollow>Pexelscom<a>

Content Marketing: Show, Don't Sell

Here's a radical idea: stop trying to sell your services and start sharing your knowledge instead.

Content marketing is like being the cool teacher everyone wants to hang out with after class. Blog posts, videos, podcasts—pick your poison and start sharing your expertise. The goal isn't to give away all your secrets (you've gotta eat, after all), but to demonstrate your know-how and build trust.

Pro tip: Don't just stick to your professional niche. Share your process (if they are of interest to your audience), your wins, your epic fails. People want to work with people, not just skill sets.

I worked with Tom, a freelance web developer, a few years ago. He started a YouTube channel where he breaks down complex coding concepts using LEGO bricks. His videos aren't just informative; they're entertaining. Now, when potential clients search for web development help, they find Tom—and they already feel like they know and trust him.

Network Like a Human, Not a LinkedIn Bot

Networking doesn't have to feel like you're stuck at a bad cocktail party. Instead of trying to collect business cards like Pokemon, focus on building genuine relationships.

I met Lisa, a freelance writer, in a Slack community for small business owners. She didn't pitch her services; she just offered helpful advice when she could. Six months later, she had three new long-term clients. It was because she was genuinely helpful and present in the community.

Join online communities in your niche. Contribute to discussions without constantly promoting yourself. Attend local meetups or conferences (yes, even if you're an introvert). The goal is to become a familiar face, not to close a deal on the spot.

Remember, every person you meet is a potential client, collaborator, or friend. Treat them accordingly.

Let Your Clients Do the Talking

Nothing sells your services better than a happy client singing your praises. (I’m talking testimonials here, but actual songs are nice too.) But don't just slap a few generic quotes on your website and call it a day.

Get specific. Ask clients to share the tangible results of your work. Numbers, percentages, before-and-after scenarios—go for the marketing gold.

And don't be afraid to get creative with your testimonials. Video testimonials, case studies, or even client interviews can be much more powerful than a simple text quote.

You might even want to create a “Client Success Stories” section on your website. For each featured client, you could include a brief video interview, key metrics showcasing the improvements you helped them achieve, and a detailed breakdown of the strategies you implemented. Potential clients can see exactly what you can do for them, not just read about it.

young woman helping senior man with payment on internet using laptop
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on <a href=httpswwwpexelscomphotoyoung woman helping senior man with payment on internet using laptop 3823488 rel=nofollow>Pexelscom<a>

Build Your Own Audience with Email Marketing

Social media is great, but you're building on rented land. An email list? That's prime real estate you own.

Start building your email list from day one. Offer a valuable freebie (like an ebook or a mini-course) in exchange for email addresses. Then, nurture that list with regular, valuable content.

The key is to make your emails feel like they're coming from a trusted friend, not a faceless business. Share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your work, offer exclusive tips, or even just tell a good story.

I subscribe to a newsletter from a freelance graphic designer. She sends a monthly “Design Dispatch” to her email list. It includes a roundup of inspiring designs she's spotted, a quick tutorial on a design technique, and updates on her recent projects. Her open rates are through the roof because subscribers know they'll always learn something new.

Collaborate and Cross-Promote

Remember that whole “network like a human” thing? Here's where it pays off.

Find other freelancers in complementary fields and team up. A web designer and a copywriter could offer a website package deal. A photographer and a makeup artist could cross-promote each other's services.

Not only does this expand your potential client base, but it also allows you to offer more comprehensive services.

I often partner with SEO pros, designers, and web developers to create larger projects for clients. Those collaborations work for more than just that one project. We often refer clients to one another as well.

The Bottom Line

Marketing yourself as a freelancer doesn't have to feel sleazy or overwhelming. It's about building relationships, showcasing your expertise, and letting your unique personality shine through.

Remember, consistency is key. Pick a few strategies that feel authentic to you and stick with them. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is a thriving freelance business.

Now, get out there and show the world what you've got. Your dream clients are waiting to discover you!


  • Treasa Edmond

    With 30 years in the workforce, 15 of those running her own freelance writer and content strategy business, Treasa has worked with all kinds of clients. It took her years to break out of an employee mindset so she could become the boss of her business. Now she's sharing her proven client management strategy and communication process so you can become the boss of your business today!