- Freelancers are responsible for handling every aspect of their business to see growth – and digital marketing helps boost business growth.
- Your freelancing career involves marketing yourself while also handling client relationships. For different stages of the client journey, you need to stay organized, send relevant emails, and think creatively about what you have to offer.
- Digital marketing opens opportunities for you to market your freelance business with the best possible website content, start new client relationships, reassure clients about their worries, and send personalized, automated emails at each stage of your client relationships.
Freelancers have to execute work for their clients, but they also need to promote their business to get new clients. Digital marketing can be a powerful way to grow a business, but it’s also an additional skill set that not all freelancers practice.
When it comes to building your brand, creating a compelling website, and generally marketing yourself online, what are the best ways to get started?
Here are five digital marketing tips for freelancers.
1. Focus on these four important website pages
As a freelancer, your website is one of your most essential tools. One of the reasons that people trust businesses is because of what they have on their website.
And no website is complete without these four most important pages:
- The homepage
- The “About me” page
- The portfolio and work experience page
- The “Contact me” page
Your website is the easiest and most direct way for a prospective client to learn about who you are, your skills, and how to work with you in the same successful way previous clients have.
The homepage is where you should include your value proposition, and proof, like a client testimonial – of how working with you helps people see their desired results. A website visitor leaves a page within 10-20 seconds of arriving. However, a web page with a clear and immediate value proposition is known to keep web visitors on a page longer – long enough to (hopefully) convert them into clients.
The “About me” page is where you show people what kind of a person your clients will work with – and that’s important to them. A report by BBMG states that 73% of people care about the company, not just the product or service when making a purchase. People want to buy from people. Authentic, similar, and likeable people.
The portfolio and work experience page is where you can show off your best work. Clients often want to see a sample of the work that they’re going to get, to see if your style matches what they’re looking for. This page is that sample.
The “Contact me” page is key. This is where people can hire you, so it’s a great place to answer any outstanding questions — to lay out the next steps and reiterate your value proposition. It’s also a good place to collect important information, like the budget, from people who contact you.
You can have all other types of pages on your site. But start by getting these four right.
2. Create an online course
According to a Stratistics MRC report, the global elearning market is projected to account for over $275 billion by 2022 (which is way up from the $165 billion accounted for in 2015).
Creating an online course can feel like a lot of work, but it’s become easier than ever to sell your expertise. Online platforms like Thinkific or Podia give freelancers the tools they need to productize their experience — and potentially introduce some recurring income.
When it comes to creating your course, keep a running list of the questions you get most often from your clients. Which projects come your way the most often? What information do you wish all your clients understood?
Each of those questions can serve as the backbone for a new course — and most technology platforms will give you more ideas about how exactly you can package your product to sell.
It takes an up-front investment to get an online course off the ground, but once you launch you can create a revenue stream that isn’t hourly or project-based billing (and expands beyond selling your time directly).
You can host online courses on your website or through another platform, and you can promote courses via social media posts, paid advertising, and segmented emails.
3. Create a client onboarding checklist
When you have a new client, your first step is not to immediately start work on their project.
Up until now, you and your new client have talked about things like your skills, the types of projects they have in mind, and the cost you agreed on for your services. You made a general plan for your work together. Now is the time when you put the plan in motion.
A client onboarding process can make sure that everyone is on the same page. More importantly, onboarding is where you show new clients what you can do.
As you begin work with a new client, you can upsell them on an online course, gated content, and other helpful resources. And as you start, it helps to have an onboarding checklist to keep track of each necessary step to sustain productive client relationships.
A client onboarding checklist includes steps like
- Send an automated welcome email with details about what to expect next
- Send an invoice email for the first half of payment
- Set up a shared project management tool for project progress visibility
The structure is an important part of any relationship – and especially your client relationships. You can’t expect clients to follow your lead on a project if they don’t know what path they are walking. Clearly lay out a client onboarding process for yourself and use a checklist to stay on track.
4. Address these three most common client objections
Any prospective client is going to have questions for you – and they are also going to come ready with reasons why working with you won’t work out.
But you have to remember – they are talking to you because they need your help. When common client objections arise, it’s up to you to be able to handle them.
You can use your digital marketing to handle client objections before they even reach you. Your website copy, blog content, social media posts, and emails can all showcase how you deal with your clients’ problems.
For example, a prospective client who is worried about the cost of hiring a freelancer may respond positively to website copy that says, “Pricing is month to month with no contracts, no extra fees, and no hidden gimmicks”.
When you are directly dealing with a client through emails and phone calls, being prepared with a list of objections and your responses can help with them over
Three common client objections you can encounter are
- It’s too expensive: Instead of leading with price, focus on the value and benefits of your service. Circle back to what the client gets with your offering, and the problems or pain points it solves.
- You don’t understand my business: Respond with curiosity instead of getting defensive. Agree with them and let it be known that you want to learn about their business, then ask them to tell you about it.
- I don’t have the time or resources for this right now: Instead of asking them when the best time to talk later is, ask them what time and resources they DO have right now. This helps you learn what support you can offer them in the meantime.
Some clients might be worried that hiring you is too expensive. Instead of a reply that defends your pricing, focus on the value and benefits of your offering. Circle back to what the client gets with your offering, and the problems or pain points it solves.
5. Send automated follow-up and thank you emails to clients
Throughout a client relationship, certain emails are required. During a project, you should send multiple check-in emails. After a project is done, you should still keep in contact with clients through follow-up and thank you emails.
Follow-up emails can go to past clients that you want to work with again. In many email marketing platforms, you can find customizable follow-up email templates to cut down on communication time for you.
When you have a new client, it’s important to build on your existing relationship and keep communication open. Sending a personal thank you note after you complete a client’s first project shows that you care.
Personalized, thoughtful communication is the root of good customer experiences – and a big reason why clients continue to work with businesses. However, it can sound like a lot of time-consuming work to send out all of the necessary types of emails to clients. Automation exists to help you send every email you need without extra work from you.
Nucleus found that marketing automation improved business productivity by an average of 20%. It can help you track and maintain communication with your clients. You should use marketing automation to send a thank-you email to first-time clients and follow-up emails to past clients.
I hope freelancers everywhere can benefit from these tips and other free resources for freelancers. Manage clients, promote your freelance brand, and grow your business by taking hold of your marketing strategy.
Lauren Minning is a Content Marketing Specialist at ActiveCampaign.