A few months ago, I began toying with the idea of running a blog where I could put my storytelling skills to use. Of course, the blog would first and foremost be my creative outlet, but it would also serve as an online portfolio I could show to my prospective clients. As a freelancer who’s just dipping her toes into the freelance waters, I wanted to make sure that the website gets enough friction. So I searched for marketing skills every freelancer should know if they want to get their business off the ground.
Why? Because I grew tired of sending emails such as this one:
You can see some samples of my work here, here and here. The print samples of my work are attached below. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions regarding my work.
Et cetera, et cetera.
And getting no response.
Instead, I wanted to send an email such as this one:
Here’s the link to my personal website where you can find more information about me and my work. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions regarding my work.
And impress prospective clients.
So I created my personal website tijanawrites.me and worked on my personal branding. Here’s what I learnt in the process.
Marketing Skills #1: Understand The Power of a Personal Website
A personal website is your ticket to coming off as professional. And if you are just at the beginning of your freelance career, thus lacking in confidence and quite possibly ways to show your skills, a website can be an ace up your sleeve. Here is why.
The homepage can host a clever call-to-action (CTA) or put it differently, a clever way to attract clients. Don’t over complicate or overcrowd it. Make sure it is easy for visitors to get around.
About me page can introduce you to your target audience and visitors in general. This is a great way for your prospective clients to get a better understanding of who you are.
Contact page shows where you’d like people to contact you. It can be anything from a contact form to social media handles. But make sure it is clearly visible.
A blog is often perceived as strictly reserved for bloggers, which is a terrible misconception. This is your space to show your expertise skills through words. A blog can be a great way to attract your audience through tutorials, how-to pieces etc.. But bear in mind that you need to choose your audience carefully. You can read more about how to attract your audience here.
The project/portfolio page will show your prospective clients your work. Whatever the industry you work in, make sure you take time to write a quick summary underneath each project.
Feature your credentials
Ask your previous employers, clients or former colleagues to write a few nice words about you and your work. Then display their quotes, along with their picture and (for bonus credibility) a link to their LinkedIn profile.
And before the ‘I don’t know how to build a website. I am not a developer’ excuse comes up. There are so many great website building tools like Weebly, Squarespace, Wix that not being a developer is not a valid excuse anymore. After all, you can always create your personal page at About.me.
To sum up: Personal website is your chance to stand out from the crowd. 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.
Marketing Skills #2: Dip Your Toes in Search Engine Marketing (SEO)
SEO might make sense to you as much as the Elvish language does, but bear with me for a moment, it’s not as difficult as it seems at first. Here’s all you need to know about SEO (for now at least):
- SEO is a practice that helps you increase (non-paid) traffic on your website.
- SEO is also one of the only online marketing channels that, when set up correctly, can continue to pay dividends over time.
So how do you make it easier for search engines (like Google) to understand what your page is about and rank it among the first page results?
Devise an SEO strategy
Take a look at your website – what is your goal? Is it to attract clients or general visitors? Depending on what you aim for include keywords that best describe your intent into your page title, meta description, headlines, page content, links etc. all aligned to follow your overall strategy. But don’t go overboard either. Google can penalise you for keyword stuffing, by not ranking you high. Also, don’t be shy to check out your competitors to see how they are managing their online presence.
For example, you want to rank for floral arrangements. Do a keyword search to see how hard it is to rank for that keyword. You might want to find synonyms for the keyword and incorporate them in your content too. One of the easiest ways to find keywords is to pay attention to the people also ask in the Google search page results.
Keywords are just a drop in an SEO ocean. So make sure you check out an SEO course before you devise your SEO strategy.
Marketing Skills #3: Google Analytics Can Tell You A Lot!
I am a big fan of Google Analytics. Why? Because it tells you what your audience likes and what it doesn’t like. Through Google Analytics you can also see where your visitors are coming from, and if your SEO strategy is working or it needs tweaking. But most importantly, Google Analytics gives you a sense of whether you’ve done a good job or not.
For example: Upon creating my personal website, I’ve connected it with Google Analytics and began monitoring the behavior of my website visitors. I’ve noticed that the majority have clicked on the featured story. Through the average reading time, I could deduct that almost everyone has read my featured article until the end.
But then I’ve noticed that although they’re reading my stories, rarely anyone clicked on the menu bar and checked out the page and my project page I’ve named Adventures. It took me a moment to understand that the menu bar is hardly recognisable with the contrast of colours, so as a part of the experiment, I’ve changed it. The next thing I know, people are visiting the rest of my website too.
Google Analytics will give you an insight into how to reach your goals
Google Analytics can give you an insight into the behaviour of your visitors, but also into what is working for them and what is not. If you take a look at the numbers you can easily see what is the platform that needs more boost, or what is the platform you should be more active on.
Google Analytics allows you to improve your promotions. When you get to know your audience, you’ll have a sense of what type of content they prefer and promote it to them. You can monitor how your promotions are doing with Google Analytics, and you will know right away who you are bringing to your website and what type of content is the best for a promotion, whether it is a picture or a video.
Using Google Analytics has many advantages, and you can easily learn it via free Google online courses. Now, not only you can attract your clients, but you can also have one more skill up your sleeve.
Marketing Skills #4: Content Marketing
Content marketing is not only about blog posts. It’s about the content on your website pages, social media posts, newsletters (you’ll send to your subscribers later on), and most importantly, it’s about creating a community. So, what are the things you need to cover?
Invest some effort in a quality copywriting
Copywriting is a way of attracting your audience and describing in the best way your product or service. It is a great way to present your work online, in an article or even in a newsletter. And you don’t have to be a great writer to get the job done. You can follow the famous AIDA formula – Attention – Interest – Desire – Action. Try writing your content in a way to attract customers’ attention, know their interest, communicate their desire, and lead them to click on your website or on your product.
Show your personality
Show your thoughts during your work process. People love having insights on ‘behind the scene’ moments. They value the work more when they see the person who stands behind it, making it more personal.
Create a community
When it comes to content marketing, it is important to communicate to your audience as you would do it with your friends and family. Be concrete, friendly, and give them value, a reason to come back to your page or website. Encourage them to leave a comment, share their story or even an opinion. Observe, listen and take every feedback into a count. This way you will have an idea what is the thing your customers want or need, which allows you to keep up with all trends that are rapidly changing.
Marketing Skills #5: Personal Branding
I firmly believe that a secret to great personal branding is rooted in your story. Take a step back and think about what has propelled you on your professional journey. When I look back on mine, my work was defined by great stories told in moments when you need an extra push to overcome the hurdles on your path.
So how to create a personal brand that will attract clients and audience?
Don’t shout you are authentic from the rooftops. Recognise the elements of your story or approach to work that make you different and unique. Incorporate that into your website.
Success is nothing if not hard work. But working hard without being consistent may stray you off from the path to success, and depict you as a jack of all trades, but master of none. Choose an aspect of your branch you’d like to focus on and specialise in it. This doesn’t mean you cannot do anything else. Sure dabble into different aspects of your industry branch, but keep your main focus on one thing.
You can achieve a consistent brand image by sticking with:
– the same logo and name
– specific colour schemes
– same message, or words you use all around your website and social media bios, and even posts.
Regardless of the method of promotion you choose, being on the radar is an essential part of your brand. Your brand can be built through the world of the mouth, so you must do a good job linking with the right people and sending them the right message. Another great way to spread the word is through social media platforms. Choose the one that is best suited for your target audience and focus on spreading the word through your work.
Define Your Value Proposition
Here’s the thing, your clients need to know what value they’ll get from your work. So, what can you offer to your audience? The answer to this question should not be longer than one sentence and should be one of the first things people see when they visit your website.
Marketing Skills #6: Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is not only about which social media you use, it’s rather how you use it and who is your main target. It is an extended hand of your website, a way to promote and connect your work with your target audience.
First of all, you need to understand your why – why you do what you do, which will help you create a map you can easily follow.
What are your goals?
Every strategy begins with a goal in mind. Whether is that getting some extra cash from the side or maybe bringing more people to your website? Building your project? Starting a new business? What is the thing you want to achieve by doing this work?
Who is your target audience?
Think about who are the people who will most likely buy or use your product? Who are the visitors you want to attract to your website? Kids, teenagers, moms, other freelancers? When you are thinking about your target group, don’t forget to keep in mind their approximate age and interests. Knowing your buyer persona makes it easier for you to adapt your content and make it more approachable for them.
What type of content do you want to share?
Keep in mind that if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life! Yes, I know, it’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s very true! Think about what you want to share, and what you feel most comfortable sharing with your audience. Is it your personal life, presenting your product through storytelling or maybe through humour? It’s all up to you! Remember that people value honesty, and being your true self is the best way to go.
Which social media platforms do you want to focus on?
Remember your target audience? When you create a clear buyer persona, you’ll know which media to use. For example, if your goal is to be seen by professionals, try using LinkedIn, but if you want to be seen by gamers perhaps, try using Twitter. See, it’s pretty simple!
Before you go
Working on yourself is the most important thing you can do. Creating a personal website has reminded me to take a step back and reevaluate the goals I’ve set for myself. My initial idea was to create a classic website portfolio and use it as a resume that I can send to the magazines when they ask to see my previously published work. What I quickly understood was that I wanted to create a community around my website and attract people who enjoy storytelling. But at the same time, the website would be a perfect fit as a resume as it would give a professional and different approach to what people are already creating.
Projects can vary from month to month, depending on your clients. Trends come and go, so if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. Whether it is a new project, client or trend, the best to adapt your marketing skills and evolve. Don’t forget to keep up with new tech, stay flexible and follow our blog for all tips and tricks you’ll need in this online industry.
Of course, if you didn’t start your journey as a freelancer yet, check out How to start your freelance career? And thank me later. 🙂