Market yourself for the long term

The Following is a guest post by Luke van de Paverd, a freelancer from Victoria, Australia.

When starting out in freelancing, often you’ll hear all sorts of advice. Advice like “price yourself cheaply to start with to get some customers”, or “don’t go full time straight off the bat”, etc. That’s all well and good. But this one piece of adviceshould be at the back of your mind no matter what else you hear.

“Market yourself for the long term”

Good solid work comes from good, solid relationships and good solid reputations. There’s no quick way to build those ingredients, but there are ways to make it quicker. Here are some ways to keep an eye on the long term.

Look for work in the right places

Building long term relationships requires you to position yourself as an irreplaceable resource for businesses.

Now there are exceptions, but generally you don’t find these clients on job boards. Why? Because those clients are happy to use job boards! They can find a replacement very quickly, and most likely, as soon as your rates rise or your timeframe shifts, they will.

Instead, some places you could look for work would be local businesses, agencies, freelancers with complimentary skill sets.

Local businesses need someone to take care of their website for them. Most often, they don’t have the knowledge or time required to maintain an effective web presence. For these types of businesses you can situate yourself as the “go to guy/gal” for all their website stuff. Take care of their domain name, web hosting, updates, keep up to date on their marketing goals, be available for questions etc.

Working for agencies and other freelancers is great for freelancers that like defined projects, because almost always, if you do a good job, you’ll get more work in the future. In these situations, you’re basically outsourcing your marketing.

Your service doesn’t stop when the job is done

If you’re working with small business owners, your service should never stop. If you aren’t doing hosting yourself, at least work in with a hosting partner that shares some profits with you. Always look for opportunities where you can offer new services.

Build recurring revenue streams

Some people don’t recommend hosting yourself. I recommend you do, but that you charge for it. My hosting is typically more expensive than other hosts, but my clients pay more because they trust me, and because I become their sole contact for all web issues, which makes it easier for them.

Same goes for domain registration.

If you do one website a month, and charge $300 hosting for a year, the next year, you’re starting off at $3600 revenue instead of 0.

When you’re selling, think of the long term

Don’t always be blinded by immediate reward. Some times its better to take a pay cut in order to get a job that has great potential down the road. (And anyone that says they’ll send you heaps of people for work, usually won’t).

An example of this is if you’re designing a website for a section of a larger organisation. I’ve got foots in the door in tourism, health, and a religious group. All of which refer a lot more work to me through my repute, rather than by direct word of mouth.

Summary

Always keep an eye on the long term. If you’ve done it right, you’ll find the leads materialising from nowhere.

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