Marketing guide for freelancers

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As a freelancer, once you’re underway with my three-step guide to marketing, the first way to take your marketing to the next level is to start thinking about your work -- as a business.

That means creating a consistent strategy for your marketing that you do repeatedly and consistently, regardless of whether or not you have clients, writes Emilie Heaney, founder of Start-Up Marketer.

Marketing yourself with a strategy: introduction for freelancers

With our own business for example, we have a standard process for creating a marketing strategy for our clients. This is the same whether they’re a huge company with a whole marketing team or just a solo entrepreneur. The strategy is scalable, so from your point of view as the end-user, you can fit it to your own business, your goals and crucially if you're self-employed, your time and budget constraints.

Here’s our guide for freelancers needing to create a marketing strategy to take their self-employed business to the next level -- in five simple steps.

1. Write down your goals

Any effective marketing plan should start with goal-setting. Here you define what you hope to achieve from your marketing efforts. For example, you might have a goal of getting 10 new clients or 100+ new followers on Instagram. This is the point where you define why you’re bothering with marketing at all!

Whatever your goals are, write them down. These goals will be the foundation for your marketing strategy, so you’ll want to refer back to them.

2. Define your target audience

Depending on your industry, you may or may not have a set target audience.

Something that freelancers can often struggle with is understanding what their niche is. But this step is really important to help you focus your marketing activities, so do take it.

While you can create generic content and send it out into the void, it’s helpful to understand what you specialise in so you can tailor your content to that audience. That isn’t to say you can’t go after other types of clients too, but this is the audience that you are going to focus on primarily.

Here are some ideas to help you narrow down your target audience for marketing purposes:

  • What size businesses do you work with?
  • Where are they based?
  • What do they need help with?
  • What types of work or clients would you like to work with more?
  • ,

Maybe you’ve found clients in an industry that is particularly lucrative who need your skills, or clients that give you a real buzz when you’re working with them!

In defining your target audience, you can decide what areas of your business you want to pursue more and who you’d like to be working with in the future.

3. Set an expectation for yourself

Now you have your goals and target audience, you now need to figure out how you’re going to get yourself in front of those people!

This is where you set an expectation for yourself and drill down on the marketing you’ll do to get there.

It’s not enough to say, ‘I want to reach 10k followers on social media,’ especially if you’re only posting once per week. Instead, you need to set concrete expectations for yourself to help hit your goals.

If you don’t have anyone to help with marketing, we recommend choosing 1-2 channels maximum to focus on. Think about how much time you have to spare, what your budget is and what you’re realistically going to be able to put into marketing. Then write a plan for yourself.

4. Do the work

Now it’s time to put in the work and follow through with what you wrote in step 3!

This is the easiest and hardest step in the marketing strategy. Whether that’s posting consistently on social media, reaching out to new contacts on LinkedIn or writing more blog content, this is where you actually put your marketing strategy into practice.

We recommend sticking with your plan for 3-6 months to give your strategy enough time to start showing results. Don’t expect an instant flood of new enquiries after one week. Some patience is needed here!

5. Analyse your progress

After you’ve been consistently marketing to your target audience for 3-6 months, you can then sit down and look at your progress. Ask yourself some basic but fundamental questions, like:

  • Have you made steps towards achieving your goals?
  • Are you reaching your target audience with your current marketing efforts?
  • What seems to be working best and what’s working less well?
  • ,

By analysing your marketing strategy, you have the chance to tweak it as needed. That means doubling down on the efforts that are working best for you and getting you closer to your goals. The more you market yourself, the more you’ll get a feel for where your time is best spent!

Need a helping hand in the marketing department?

Of course, it’s not always plan sailing when marketing your freelance business as a self-employed sole trader. If you have questions about creating a marketing strategy or need a second opinion on the best marketing channels for you, contact us at Good luck with your marketing freelancers!

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