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6 Marketing Skills Every Freelancer Should Know


By Anja Drobnjak, June 7, 2018

I have a friend who is a freelance designer. When he decided it’s about time to start earning money from his couch, he thought he already had everything needed to kick off a successful career as a freelancer. Since I really wanted him to succeed, I had to be that annoying voice saying: “Wait a minute. You didn’t think it through at all. You are an awesome designer, but don’t you think you’ll need some other skills too? Such as writing, social media, analytics, creating an online portfolio?” Although he shut me down at first, I knew he’ll come along. And there came a phone call, delivering a sentence we all want to hear sometime: “You were right.” 🙂

What did we do? I asked for his opinion about every skill I mentioned and wrote it down. Then we put our brains on “work like crazy” mode and made a detailed plan of skills he may need in order to freelance like a pro. Finally, we compared his opinion before and after digging deeper into the whole thing. Here’s how the whole process looked like:

The list of marketing skills:

1. Social Media Marketing

My friend’s thoughts before we made a plan:

I already am where all the freelancers are – on Upwork and Freelancer. I don’t see why building a social media presence is a necessity. Also, we all know how to use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. What else can I learn about it?

Key takeaways after we made a plan:

  • It is never a bad idea to be present everywhere. Having an account on Freelancer, Upwork, or any other freelancing platform is a great way to showcase work, meet fellow freelancers, and find potential clients. But that doesn’t mean social media is not an option.
  • Social media marketing is an important tool for discovering people who might be interested in your work. Your target audience is not only present on freelancing platforms. By understanding social media channels, e.g. Facebook, you’ll be able to reach out to your potential clients.
  • By understanding what social media marketing really is and learning more about creating a social media strategy, you’re actually adding a brand new skill into that breathtaking portfolio of yours.
  • Additional benefit – when you master social media marketing skills, you can offer a brand new service to potential clients. In my friend’s case, that skill aligns perfectly with what he does now – design.

Social media management

2. Content Marketing

My friend’s thoughts before we made a plan:

I am not sure if I can write blog posts. It takes a lot of time and I’m not very good at it.

Key takeaways after we made a plan:

  • Content marketing is a technique of creating content your target audience finds relevant, valuable, and original. It includes customer/marketing and SEO research, a content creation that aligns with your business goals, building an email funnel, and promoting content to drive traffic to the website. Yes, it is hard and complex (although one may think it’s not), but it’s an amazing asset. By providing a free value to potential customers, you are on the right track when it comes to creating a loyal paying customer.
  • Content marketing is NOT about blog posts only. Social media posts, How-to articles, newsletter, case studies, trending stories from the industry… All of these are integral parts of content marketing. As I explained to my friend, no one has to use them all at the very beginning. Just start with something.
  • My friend accepted the fact that he needs to create quality content even for his social media posts. Everyone tends to stand out in one way or the other. Original content is always a good way to do so.
  • If you, as my friend, don’t have a personal website yet, there are some ways you can write and distribute your articles. What I suggested was writing an article on LinkedIn (it is free and anyone can write it) and then sharing it on other social media channels. In a long-term perspective, a personal website is a must-have.
  • To conclude the case of content marketing and it’s necessity: quality content can get you further than you’ve ever expected. Of course, it’s a lot more complex than explained above, but it’s enough for the beginner’s guide to content marketing.

content marketing

3. Writing

My friend’s thoughts before we made a plan:

Didn’t we just solve this under the “content marketing” part of a plan?

Key takeaways after we made a plan:

  • Content marketing and content writing are not synonyms. Imagine content marketing as a huge picture and content writing as one part of it. When you’re just putting words on the page, you’re writing. When you’re working on creating a detailed content strategy (including a lot more elements than plain writing), that is content marketing.
  • Writing skills are crucial for every form of written communication. Even if you’re sending an email to the client, you must know how to write. That can sound a bit silly ‘cause everyone knows how to write an email, right? Unfortunately, that is not quite true. Concise writing is an invaluable tool to communicate effectively and be understood.
  • Writing is very important when it comes to running social media accounts. You have to be precise, original, and (sometimes) a little bit funny. With a limited number of words (people tend to skip reading long post descriptions on social media) you need to make your point and awoke the interest of potential clients. And that can be tough.
  • You can learn how to write. It requires lots of reading, engaging, writing, and it’s time-consuming. After a bit of practice, you can make your high school language teacher proud AND get the attention of future clients.

writing

4. Portfolio/Personal Website

My friend’s thoughts before we made a plan:

I don’t have a clue how to build a personal website and I don’t have enough money to pay someone to do it for me. I have my portfolio in PDF and I send it to (potential) clients upon request.

Key takeaways after we made a plan:

  • Given the fact that there is a lot of competition out there, finding a way to stand out from others is a must. You have to show your potential clients that you’re credible, organized and that you know how to do your job. The best way to do so and to boost your freelance career is to launch a personal website.
  • Nowadays, “I don’t know how to build a personal website” is no longer an excuse. Accept DIY approach and take advantage of some popular, online tools which can help you build an awesome, eye-catching website. It is quite simple and it won’t take long for you to master it.
  • There are plenty “step-by-step” guides on building a website (as well as online courses) and they’re very useful. This can be time-consuming but it’s an invaluable skill to have.
  • Finally, you can pay someone to do it for you, if you have money. Just acknowledge that, at some point of your freelancing career, a personal website/portfolio is a must-have.
  • Reminder: whichever option you choose, make sure you pick a perfect domain name. Internet never sleeps and a personal website serves both as your personal and business ID, a public portfolio available 24/7. With .ME you can make an awesoME impression when it comes to building a brand – personal or business.

personal website portfolio

5. Analytics & Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

My friend’s thoughts before we made a plan:

There’s no way I can learn all this and still manage to do my regular job – design. I think no one can.

Key takeaways after we made a plan:

  • You don’t have to be analytics and SEO professional. But you do have to know some basics in order to track performances of both your website and the content you’re creating. Understanding numbers given by Google and Facebook will help you optimize performances of your website and your Facebook page. SEO is a crucial strategy to get a website noticed online. Also, it’s a valuable skill to market your own business (or services you as an individual provide), and important for your potential clients.
  • Google offers a free course on Google Analytics for beginners and there are lots of courses and great articles on the importance of SEO. There’s no need to get into all the technical aspects of search engine optimization (unless you want to). Learn the basics and try to apply them whenever possible.

seo optimisation

6. Time Management

My friend’s thoughts before we made a plan:

OK, THIS I really need.

Key takeaways after we made a plan:

  • Forget all written above if you’re not willing to work on acquiring time management skills. We live in the world of deadlines. That means, we want to get work related things done, but the balance between our job and personal life has to exist.
  • My friend is a freelancer, so there’s no one looking over his shoulder and checking up on him. Many people would say it’s much easier for him to stay on tasks and work efficiently. I don’t fully agree with that. It’s great that he is in charge of everything he does. On the other hand, it’s all up to him and that can be very overwhelming sometimes.
  • Always plan your time. Here’s a blog post summing up how to achieve the impossible – a not so perfect work/life balance.  
  • When working, almost everything seems attractive enough to compete for attention. Instagram posts have never been more interesting. Are posts on Imgur always this hilarious? Yes, we’ve all been there and the only thing we can do is try to minimize distractions. If you’re not in the work mode, close your laptop and go for a walk. Eat an ice cream or watch a movie. But when you’re focused, shut down everything that looks for your attention. Facebook news feed won’t go anywhere.
  • Track your time, whether by writing down all of your daily tasks or by using some of the time management tools such as Asana, Toggl, Trelo etc.

icecream

After a day of hard work, my friend and I went to our favorite ice cream place. It was time for him to spend a bit of that hard-earned freelance money. And if he follows these 6 steps, maybe this time next year we’ll enjoy a gelato near Colosseum in Rome. His treat, of course! 🙂

 

 


Author:

Anja Drobnjak

Anja is a Content Manager at Alicorn. Systematically approaching everything, from blog editorial to favorite sci-fi novel discussions. Passionate about her job, books, and dragons. Google Analytics enthusiast.

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