The freelance life has gained immense momentum in the past decade, and an increasing number of people have taken the step of ditching the routine 9 to 5 life in an agency or company.
Tapering down to a niche field and gaining expert skill and knowledge has enabled individuals to concentrate on those skills that they are best at.
Freelancing allows individuals to work at their preferred time and place but the market is also a competitive space with a huge influx of great ideas, content and abilities. Online marketplaces like Fiverr, Upwork and Freelancer offer price competitive services by a number of different freelancers.
With an increasing number of skilled individuals and no backing of an agency to work on business development, how then, do you differentiate yourself from the rest of the pool and build a strong and increasing clientele?
As a design freelancer, be it whichever discipline you’re in- web design, digital art, illustration, graphic design or any of the other fields, there are a few steps that you can take, to market your work and reach the correct audience-
The first and most basic question you need to have clarity on is the niche that you will be focusing on.
Designing services can range from designing logos, infographics, brochures, social media creative and websites. While you may offer a range of different services, it would help to keep the services in mind, strategize for each service separately and communicate how you would add value to the process.
E.g. A brand may not have a great deal of capital to invest in logo designing as they could be just starting out, taking up work for social media would require constant involvement with a brand as well as timely delivery. All these points should be kept in mind so you can think like a potential client and strategize your marketing communication effectively.
In a pool of talented designers, what makes you different? Clients need to know the added advantages that they would be receiving if they chose to hire you over any other freelancer.
Do you have an extensive portfolio of designing with fashion brands? Is your turnaround time quick? Or do you have strict protocols and processes and are thorough with your work?
Figure out your strengths and skill sets and highlight them as the reasons a client should choose you over any other professional. Make it the central part of your branding strategy.
Since design is first and foremost based on visual appeal, a portfolio to showcase your work is a must. Display of previous work on your website will help give potential clients insight into the style of work you deliver and instil confidence in your abilities.
Portfolio websites like WordPress, Wix and Weebly are good places to start showcasing your work, without touching a line of code.
( Also Read : How To Design Perfect Website For Your Business In Just 4 Steps )
Marketing has evolved greatly in the past few years and social media has caused an entire evolution in the way branding strategies are formulated.
Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are not only used for entertainment purposes but have become an integral tool to showcase your business, promote your work, seek creative inspiration and connect with like-minded individuals.
Every platform will connect you with a different set of potential clients and optimal use should be made of every platform and what they have to offer.
Facebook is great for showcasing your work and connecting with other designers as well as forums where people are actively looking out for freelancers
The visual design format of Instagram is a great place for you to showcase your artistic abilities and create a visual portfolio. Using the right kind of hashtags will help increase your visibility to a large audience and the platform provides a great space for you to increase engagement with your audience.
Twitter is a great space to emerge yourself as a thought leader and keep in touch with your community
As a designer, Pinterest is a great place for showcasing our aesthetic and its option of linking back to websites is great for driving traffic back to your website.
Dribbble is another great and exclusive space to talk about, discover, promote and explore design.
Creating a content strategy for the different platforms will help you make optimal use of their offerings.
( Read More : How to Create Successful Social Media Strategy in 4 Easy Steps )
Get familiar with all the marketing tools that you have at your disposal!
Apart from using social media and a blog to showcase your work, using email marketing is a great way to keep one-on-one interaction with a client ongoing.
Add a call to action to your blog to sign up for your newsletter and use your database of existing clients to send out monthly or quarterly newsletters to keep people up-to-date with your latest projects. MailChimp is a quick and easy tool to help you get started with email marketing.
( Also Read : 5 Powerful Tips to Execute Graphic Design in Digital Marketing )
As a lone freelancer, your contacts can be your biggest asset.
Engage in online discussions on forums and share your knowledge and expertise, make use of Facebook groups about freelancing, design and marketing and branding to keep in touch with the right people as well as being aware of the opportunities that could come your way
Use Twitter to your advantage and use the correct hashtags to be a part of discussions that concern your community. This will help you build a voice, show off your expertise and gain some recognition.
A big part of marketing yourself is getting out of your shell and attending networking events, where you could possibly find your potential clients.
Eventbrite- https://bit.ly/3ktQB1P is a great space to look out for networking events in India. You could even host your own mini networking event and spread the word about it through friends and acquaintances. The idea is to add a name and face, and a personal touch to your interactions so that people remember you, and you don’t stay lost as one of the many options at your disposal.
Your local community can be your best source for clients!
Get a little SEO friendly! Instead of writing posts on broad and general topics such as “logo design” or “social media creatives”, try to think about user intent and how those who are looking up information in regards to a topic, will search it on google.
When you step inside the mind of your audience and go through the journey of how they make their searches, you will realize that searches are usually made in the form of questions or longer sentences, looking for solutions. A few examples are-
These are long-tail keywords - search terms that help the content consumers navigate to your page according to their particular intent. Since they are narrowly focused, they are less competitive and easier to rank for in Google.
If you genuinely provide useful content, your users will see you as an expert in your field and at least a few of them would decide to hire you because of your credibility.
A lead magnet is anything that helps attract a potential customer into your sales funnel.
The more helpful your viewers find your content, the more they are likely to engage with your page. Providing free resources such as an ebook or design templates is a great way to get into the email inbox of potential clients.
Think about the problems that your audience online are facing and create content to provide them with solutions.
A few examples would be-
Check-in on their progress and help them with any struggles they might be facing.
Viewing you in a favourable light with a wealth of knowledge will help them keep you in mind for any projects that go beyond their scope of knowledge and views you as a hirable asset.
Your satisfied clients can be your indirect promoters!
Ask your clients to give you a shout-out on their page, or even help you out with a lead. You could even ask your clients to share a few words about their experience with you and use it as a testimonial on your digital platforms.
The more credibility you build and showcase through various platforms, the more likely is a client seeking services, likely to approach you.