The freelance economy has been growing rapidly in recent years, and it’s not showing any signs of stopping. In fact, the Office for National Statistics recently found that the number of people in self-employment has hit a 40 year high.
So if you, like many others, have recently decided to branch out into the wide world of self-employment then read on! Because, while going into business for yourself can be very liberating, the fact that the number of freelancers in the world is growing means that your competition is also growing. Having a decent understanding of the best ways to promote your skills is therefore key knowledge for any up and coming freelancer.
Build a portfolio
If you haven’t done so already, then you need to build up a body of work which accurately represents your skill in your chosen field. You might consider starting a portfolio (tailored specifically to your freelancing) even before you leave your day job, because building up a decent body of work when you’re just starting out might require you to work for little to no pay at times.
It’s unfortunate, but as a new freelancer, you should consider the merits of every opportunity that comes your way, and weigh the importance of the experience it will offer you. Once you have a solid portfolio, you’ll be able to use it to to establish your increasing worth to future clients along the way.
Digital marketing is key
The digital revolution has had a massive effect on marketing in recent years. As of 2014, mobile technology (laptops, tablets and mobile phones) overtook television and became the primary way in which we “consume media” in the U.K. Therefore the use of digital marketing puts businesses in a position to reach a significant amount of consumers. So significant in fact that not doing so could very well result in them falling behind their competition; due to the fact that a “Lack of online presence is one of the top three reasons for startups failing”.
As far as the practical freelancer is concerned, another perk of digital marketing is that it is a very cost effective way to increase your visibility. And for a new freelancer, using social media can be a great way to establish your presence in the field and to reach out to potential clients. Social media can be intimidating, but just start small, post regularly, and don’t be afraid to interact with people.
Keep your people skills sharp
If you thought freelancing meant saying goodbye to the many joys of networking, then unfortunately you’re in for a bit of a disappointment. According to Forbes, “Most independent contractors find their best assignments through networking”.
No matter your field or your type of employment, networking can offer you the opportunity to make valuable professional contacts. For a freelancer, those contacts can mean the difference between having work, and not having work. Reaching out to people working in your field and making yourself known to them can help put you at at the forefront of their minds, so that you are the person that they think of if they or someone they know is in need of services like yours. And since you won’t have a fixed income to depend on every month, being the first person a potential client thinks of can be a very valuable position to be in.
Don’t be afraid of team ups
Just because you’ve decided to freelance doesn’t mean you have to go it all alone. This goes hand in hand with networking; in that by allowing another freelancer the opportunity to combine their skills with yours, you might find that more and more projects become available to you.
If, for example, you are a freelance copywriter, but one particular project would require you to produce detailed copy on the subject of finance and U.K. tax law, then you might consider teaming up with a freelance chartered accountant. That way you can use their knowledge of the field to your mutual advantage; you’ll both get a new contract, you’ll both increase your body of work, and you’ll both make new, valuable contacts in the form of the client and each other.
Ask for recommendations
For an up-and-coming freelancer, recommendations are an extremely valuable way to become more visible in your field. Even after you’ve networked your hardest, potentially joined forces with a whole network of qualified freelancers, built up a respectable body of work and left plenty of happy clients in your wake, you shouldn’t feel like you’re above asking for recommendations outright.
Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and if you make a good impression on clients and/or other freelancers, they should feel more than comfortable with recommending you for projects that they feel you are right for. Sometimes a positive endorsement is all you need to get your foot in the door with a great client, so make it known to those you come into contact with that you’re always on the lookout for new and exciting opportunities.