When Chris Green invited me to write a guest article for this blog, at first, I was happy.
But then I realized that a large portion of Chris’s audience is made up of freelance designers, and since I’m a freelance copywriter, this would mean I’d be talking to a lot of people who dress cooler than me.
But if you’re willing to overlook my writer’s penchant for Fred Perry cardigans, I promise to talk about something we all agree is of utmost importance to every freelancer, regardless of stripe, (or argyle) and that is: making money.
And so today I’d like to share advice on how to market your freelance business when you already have business coming in the door.
Why is it so important to market yourself when you’re already flush with projects?
Because money in the bank and a few projects on the go can be the death rattle for freelancers. The reason is because these things provide a false sense of security. As a freelancer, when money is rolling in, it becomes too easy and too enjoyable to “go with the flow.” With less pressure on you to bring in more business, you can become undisciplined.
Maybe you start to sleep in an extra hour. Or you spend a little more time each day e-mailing friends, clicking around on Twitter and generally wasting time.
But the defining characteristic of freelance work is that it’s project based. And all projects, however lucrative, eventually come to an end, so you must keep up your search for new projects.
This doesn’t mean you need to be obsessive about this, but it does mean you should consistently market your services.
Here are four things you can do to help keep your marketing funnel full.
Send thank you notes to clients and colleagues. This is an easy one. Buy a pack of 50 thank you cards, and keep them on your desk. Every Friday, write five thank you cards to clients, colleagues, and others who have helped you in your business, or have the potential to do so.
This is one of the oldest techniques for keeping your name in front of clients and prospects, but very, VERY few freelancers actually do this. (Good news for you – you’ll stand out.)
Set up Google Alerts and check them! Assemble a list of keywords in Google Alerts that are relevant to clients in your industry.
With a constant supply of relevant, fresh industry news, you’ll have a list of topics you can pass along to clients, with a little note saying, “Saw this, thought you’d be interested in the part about…”
You can also use these Alerts as fodder for your own blog posts, newsletter articles, tweets, or as part of a larger special report you might write as a lead generating “buzz piece.”
Create your own Case Study. Sure, you have a nice portfolio of work, but just showing clients your “book” doesn’t always communicate the impact that your design work had on a project does it?
Why not write some short narrative copy about the project, explaining what your design helped your client achieve? Show this narrative alongside images of your work, convert it to a nice PDF and you’ve got a one or two-page “case study” – an impressive, professional looking sales tool that you can send to prospective clients.
Rather than just taking the laid-back (read: lazy) attitude that “the work speaks for itself” invest a little time writing up a narrative that makes it crystal clear how integral you were to the project.
“But I’m not a writer!” you might say. Fine. But I’ll bet you know one. Trade some design services with a copywriter in return for help with your case study narrative. (Example: You design her case studies, she writes yours. Easy-peasy.)
Set aside a block of time for your “marketing” activities. All this means is that you schedule time to actually do things that relate directly to marketing your services. Maybe 30 minutes every morning, or maybe 2 to 3 hours every Friday, it really doesn’t matter when, as long as you do this consistently.
This may not be your idea of fun, but once you make a habit of it (and once you start getting clients as a result of it!) it will feel like much less of a chore.
Of the four tips above, the most important one is number four. Most freelancers are strapped into the feast-and-famine roller coaster because they only get out and market themselves when they’re desperate for money with no projects on the horizon.
Do not let that be your fate. Keep marketing, even when you’re doing well, so you can step off that roller coaster once and for all and start living the balanced, wealthy freelancer life you deserve.
Pete Savage is co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle. Order Pete’s book this week from Amazon.com and get up to $300 in free instructional materials to help you attract more clients and better paying projects. Click here for more info!