5 Ways to Market Yourself as a Freelancer

Note: The other day, I was going through some files and found a few articles that had been assigned to me by a website but were never published. This is one of those.

business cardsSuccess as a freelancer, whether writing, graphic design, etc., depends on self-promotion. Many of us were taught as children that it is considered impolite to brag about ourselves. However, that is exactly what we need to do as freelancers.

Here are five ways to promote yourself as a freelancer:

  1. Develop (and maintain) a web site. An outdated website does you no favors. Take the time to keep your site updated. Include a list of projects you completed in the past, with links when possible. You might think no one looks at your site, but it is a valuable tool you can use to let prospective clients know what you can do and see examples of your work.
  2. A web site is basically static. A blog is regularly updated. Ideally, keep your blog relevant to the work you do. Prospective clients use search engines, such as Google, to search for people who work in the field. Their search could lead to your blog. Keeping it updated regularly, at least twice a week, and talking about your freelance work can push your blog higher up in the search engine rankings. The higher your ranking is, the more likely it is someone will find, and ultimately hire, you. There is a caveat here: Never complain about clients on your blog. They will find out and word will get around. Keep it friendly yet professional.
  3. Create an e-mail signature. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you have a computer and an e-mail address. Even free e-mail addresses allow you to have a signature file. Include your name, preferably both first and last, a title, and a link to somewhere people can see samples of your work, whether a web site or a blog. Put it at the bottom of every e-mail you send.
  4. Network online and in person. If you work primarily with local businesses, join local civic organizations and consider joining the Chamber of Commerce. Go to meetings and Chamber events to network. Take business cards with you and hand them out. Remind people of what you do. Even if you work with local businesses, network online as well. Web sites such as Twitter provide opportunities to network with other professionals in your field, learning opportunities (there are numerous chats on Twitter, for example), and interaction with potential clients.
  5. Invest in business cards and brochures. Even in the Internet age, every freelancer needs business cards for self-promotion. Brochures might be able to be replaced by web sites, but only if they’re current. Sites such as VistaPrint offer free business cards if you pay shipping. Business cards are necessary to have on hand for civic organization meetings, Chamber of Commerce events, and professional conferences. Include your name, title, web site address, and best way to contact you on the cards.

There are more ways to promote yourself as a freelancer. Word-of-mouth also works well. The above are five of the most effective methods of self-promotion and can bring you success if you use them and follow up on any leads and assignments you receive.

How Jen Got Her Groove Back

Used under a Creative Commons license.
Used under a Creative Commons license.

I can’t actually say I have my groove back, or even that I have a groove, yet. I am, however, on my way to getting one.

As a result of having to keep my foot up for so long, I lost any kind of momentum I may have had. Because of my eyesight, it’s difficult for me to work with a computer in my lap. It can be done, but with a lot of difficulty. I prefer to use an external monitor adjusted for easy (well… easier) viewing and an external keyboard. It just makes my life easier. If I were working for someone else, they would call it accommodations. I call it doing what works for me.

Anyway, I digress.

Since I don’t have to have my foot up as much (though I still do a few times during the day), I can start getting back into a routine. It looks something like this:

Morning: Morning routine & housework (including tidying my office & living areas)
Noon: Lunch & a walk
Afternoon: Writing & marketing (and other work as it comes along)
Evening: Dinner, knitting or crochet/TV, family, & end-of-day routine (maybe another walk, especially if the noon time is too warm as the summer progresses)

It’s nothing major in the grand scheme of things, but it will help me get back to where I want to be, so it’s pretty major in that way.

I used to think schedules and routines were anathema to creativity. A few years have passed since then. (OK, more than a few.) I have come to realize that having a schedule and following a routine actually allows room for creativity. For me, creativity requires structure. If I have no structure and it can have free rein, nothing ever gets done. It’s funny how that works.

As things progress and I get assignments and other work coming in, I have no doubt the schedule will change. It will have to in order to accommodate deadlines. For now, though, this is a start. And I think it’s a good one.