Estimated reading time: around 9 minutes
If you’ve decided to take a different turn in your career, fly solo and become your own boss, – you are definitely not alone. Statistics say that freelancers will become the majority of the U.S. workforce by 2027, and this trend of independent contractors is gaining momentum all over the globe. Without any doubt, there are amazing perks that getting involved in the gig economy brings, but there are also difficulties and challenges which cannot be ignored or sugar coated.
As an aspiring full-time freelancer, you have to be aware that being independent has two sides. It’s not just about the feeling of liberty that comes with not having a boss breathing down your neck; it’s also about the responsibility of finding yourself work, which is often stressful. Being your own boss means you really have to BE your own boss, meaning you need to roll up your sleeves and find clients for yourself.
This is where it can get tricky.
The Internet has made a profound effect on the way we do business, pursue our careers, and work on our professional development. But very much like with any other tool, the usability and benefits of the Internet are highly dependable on how you use it.
If you are determined to start your own freelance business, but you seem to be having problems with actually finding clients – here are 3 major things you need to have in mind.
1. Make the Most of Your Online Presence
No matter what your freelance work is about, you need to put yourself out there and let your potential clients know you exist. The good thing is, they can notice you on multiple different channels, which is why you need to make the most of what you do online. You never know who’s looking and it often comes down to a game of impressions, so you better invest an effort to leave a good one.
It’s advisable to join relevant communities online and be active on social media, especially Linkedin, as it is a dedicated business network. Plus, Linkedin statuses have become a popular means of hiring people, so keep your eyes open.
According to statistics, Linkedin is 277% more effective for generating leads in comparison to Facebook and Twitter. Strategically using Linkedin can help you establish your personal brand, although it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Here are some tips to make the most of it:
- Ensure your profile looks professional
- Participate in discussions
- Offer fresh insights, share your perspective, be original, and see how people react
- Make sure to follow relevant people from your industry and try to put yourself on their radar
Great thing about Linkedin is that it sends you notifications whenever someone views your profile. Be smart about it: see whose attention you’ve caught and if it is someone who’s relevant for your freelance business – find a way to build upon that starting momentum.
Always remember: your goal is not only to find clients, but to build awareness about your personal brand and communicate your expertise.
Linkedin should be in your focus when it comes to networking online. However, this doesn’t mean the way you behave across your private social media profiles won’t affect your personal brand. Your online presence consists of everything you do while browsing the Internet, which is why it’s crucial to be mindful of it. Review your digital footprint and be cautious about how you act online.
However, you need to build your online base, your digital business card that will represent you 24/7, through all time zones, even while you’re sleeping.
Yes, we’re talking about your professional website.
2. Invest in a Professional Website
As a freelancer, you need to answer one important question to anyone who might be thinking about hiring you for your services:
Why should they hire you, and not someone else?
Identify what makes you special and how you will bring value for their money, and then let the world know. The best way to do so is by creating your own website. Your website is the face of your business. It is the place where you’ll display your work, be it a visual portfolio if you’re a designer or a photographer, or your writing skills, if you’re a content marketer and a writer.
Here are the main ways a website can support you in the process of finding clients:
1. No beating around the bush – clearly showcase your expertise
Having a website means you’re proactive. Not only does your website help you become more visible online, but it also shortens the path between the moment someone finds out about the services you offer, and the moment when they decide to hire you. If someone finds out about your services through a different channel other than your website and asks for samples of your work, simply direct them to your website. Impressive and highly professional.
2. Communicate your authenticity, credibility, and establish yourself as a thought leader
Freelancing is a competitive landscape, but personal branding is a powerful ally that helps you thrive. You need to grab the attention of your relevant prospects by offering them something that they cannot find elsewhere. Authenticity has become a competitive advantage in the sea of sameness. Your website is your digital playground where you can play with different ideas, share your own thoughts, and build credibility both through intriguing and useful content, and testimonials.
3. Blog + SEO = Building Visibility and Showcasing Your Expertise Online
As a freelancer, you need to get your name heard. Mingling around meetups and conferences is something you should definitely commit to, but investing in the development of your blog is even more important, here’s why.
Firstly, in the age of personal branding – you have to find a way to uniquely communicate your expertise, meaning – you need to learn the basics of content marketing yourself if you want to be successful. You are not entitled to anyone’s attention, but you need to work hard to earn it. Your blog posts and the visual appearance of your website are there to build trust with your potential clients. Make your website stand out and offer resources people cannot find elsewhere.
Secondly, your content is the foundation of your SEO efforts. To truly make the most of it, you should optimize your articles with relevant keywords and take a data-driven approach in order to map out the topics that people actually search for. This is how you’ll increase relevant, organic traffic, and build more visibility for your website online. Work on promoting your website on social media and through other methods, such as guest blogging. This will contribute to your authority score.
If you’ve already tried working through freelance platforms such as UpWork and Freelancer, but had no significant success, it’s definitely time to create your own website. Take the advice from Brent Galloway, a successful freelance graphic designer:
Your goal should be to build a business and promoting what you do. If you want to have a fulfilling career as a creative, avoid job sites and put more value in building real client relationships. Focus on building a brand around yourself.
3. Offer Value, Show Respect and Go an Extra Mile
By now, you’re probably aware that finding clients depends on how well you develop your personal brand. In addition to uniqueness, your personal brand in this context should revolve around three things: your credibility, expertise, and your ability to provide value – both to your clients and those who follow and respect your work.
When someone decides to hire you, it’s never just about your technical skills, but your personal traits and soft skills as well. How you handle difficult business situations, how you communicate with clients and address quote queries – all contribute to the way your freelance career will progress.
So, what will lure new clients in?
Commit to educating others and sharing the knowledge you have through webinars or workshops. Write eBooks and ultimate guides to help out your fellow freelancers with all the nuts and bolts of independent working, and make it clear you know what you are talking about. This will speak on so many levels to your potential clients, not only regarding the level of your expertise, but also about the type of person you are. Everyone likes working with someone who is hard-working: reassure your potential clients you’re one in a million and that they can rely on you.
Let’s face it: if you were a client looking to hire someone for continuous content production for your blog, would you choose someone who has no any proof of concept, or someone who has written a book? This is why blogging matters, and so does bringing it back to the community.
In addition, there is a strange absence of communication etiquette among freelancers. Too often it happens they do not follow up after they’ve done working for a certain client, which is such a missed opportunity. You need to go an extra mile and acknowledge your clients as people, not just as sources of income. This is how you can build client loyalty and earn referrals, which are by the way responsible for up to 34.2% of the gigs freelancers usually get.
Freelancing is a hell of a work, but it does pay off in the end. More than ever, it’s important to make your business personal. If you’re ready to give it your all, you know where to start: check if your desired .ME domain is available and create a professional website that will truly stand out!