If you are a freelancer, it is important that potential clients can easily find you if they need your services. You may not be able to afford the most sophisticated search engine optimized, high-speed website, but you can still make your basic contact information easy to find.
The fact is that often word-of-mouth or basic marketing on your part is what is going to attract a potential customer to you.
Handing out business cards, mailing flyers, and building up a Twitter following are simple ways to get noticed. However, do these methods help customers find you easily? Here are some ways to make it easy for potential customers to find you and get in touch.
Of course, the first step to making you easier to find is to create a website for yourself. Your website should provide a showcase of your work as a freelancer so that clients know what they can expect from you and will also know what types of talent and experience you have in the freelance world. You can use third party hosting services like Blogger.com or Tumblr.com, and these are just a few examples that you can use for free today to get started. Once you have created the website, you can spread the word about the site to others in just a few simple steps.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This step is a bit complicated for a single article, but is an important one to accomplish. If your website is not optimized for search engines, then potential clients won’t see you when they search for your services on Google or Yahoo. Check out this checklist for learning SEO or use some of the amazing resources on this infographic on how to learn SEO. Some of the basics, though, that you will need to do to get started include:
- Sign up with Google Analytics.
- Make a list of potential keyword phrases that prospects would use to search for you.
- Use the Google Keyword Tool to focus your keyword list – choose keywords with low competition but an average to high number of monthly searches.
- Incorporate your chosen keywords into your website. Create a page/post for each, making sure the keyword is in the page URL, the title, image titles, and in your content.
Submit to Search Engines
Another important step for making it easy for clients to find you is to submit your website to search engines. This makes your site much easier for search engines to spot, since they now know about it. Just go with a free submission site, such as FreeWebSubmission.com or SubmitExpress.com.
Submit to Local Directories
If you are a location-based freelancer or small business owner, then make sure your business is listed with online yellow pages sites and also your local printed phonebooks. Submit your business as well to Google Places for Business so that clients can easily find you when searching for your location both on Google Maps and on a standard Google search. Online yellow page directories and map directories also help to increase your page rank with Google and other big search engines.
Get Involved Online
There are several ways to spread your website URL and company name around the web, apart from the website tips listed above. Social media, forums, guest posting, and press releases are just a few ways to inundate your target audience with your business name. Just be sure that you make the most of your time by only getting involved on sites that your target market frequents. For instance, if you are a commercial graphic designer, your target clientele will be corporations and small businesses. Therefore, spend time on business and marketing websites to really get in touch with the right group of people.
Social Networking for Clients
Even though you will have a website that showcases your talents and experience, it is still crucial that you rely on social networking as well. Create a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Google+ account for you and your business. Pinterest and YouTube are other social media sites that are popular avenues for online marketing, but you will ultimately have to choose which ones are best for you. Create accounts on those which your target market frequents the most. It is a good way for you to gain likes, followers, and groups of friends, many of which may end up being potential clients for you in the future. Get great tips from these top 10 social media blogs from 2012.
Having social media sites also dramatically improves search engine rankings in the event someone tries to Google your name. And, of course, social media also gives you outlets for marketing. Just make sure your contact information is up to date on your social media sites so customers can contact you directly. And check them often for any correspondence. Free services like Hootsuite can help you manage communications through multiple social media sites so you don’t spend too much of your valuable freelancing time.
You can post the link of your website on different forums, especially in your signature if you are active on certain forums. Just make sure that you post quality, helpful tips and commentary. Your company reputation will be either greatly improved or diminished, depending on the quality of your posts. Be friendly, respond well and timely to other commenters, and never try to force your opinion on others. Courtesy and kindness go a long way to building a positive image for your freelancing brand.
Find websites that your target market frequents and submit guest posts as an expert in your field. Just be sure, again, that your writing is superb and the content is uber-helpful, to help you positively build your brand image. You can also get involved in these blogs, even if they do not allow guest posting, by commenting on posts. Both of these efforts also help to increase your page rank if you include links to your pages, especially if these are deeplinks (i.e. not your homepage). You may want to check out some tips, such as these 5 Jaw Dropping Guest Posting Tips or this Ultimate Guide to Guest Posting or learn about building backlinks through commenting from Nick’s Traffic Tricks.
In spite of the digital marketing focus of today, print marketing media is still vitally important. As a freelancer, you will more than likely meet some clients face-to-face. Make sure that you are prepared to provide contact information if someone you meet asks for it. Depending on your field of business, your local community can be a goldmine for new clients.
If you cannot afford anymore than one type of print media, then choose to print professional business cards. There are plenty of free pre-designed templates online that you can use to customize with your own information. Just make sure that you include your website URL, one or two of your social media accounts, your email address, and, if applicable, your phone number and physical address. Pass out your business cards to as many local businesses and residences as you possibly can. Work with your local chamber of commerce, as an example, to meet other business owners in your area that you know typically need your type of services. Always keep some on hand for when you just happen to meet an interested prospect at a bar or grocery store.
Both printed postcards and hangtags are easy to design and inexpensive to print. Both are a form of direct mail marketing, which gives you a higher return on investment simply because you are targeting a specific, ideal market with each. If there are certain neighborhoods you’d like to target, you can either mail postcards using the post office’s Every Door Direct Mail program. Or you can canvas the neighborhoods yourself, leaving hangtags on every front door. Just make sure that for both of these, you focus on one specific message, use an appealing image or graphics to capture attention, include a specific call-to-action, and include your logo and most important contact information. You can also include an incentive such as a coupon to make your postcards or hangtags even more valuable.
The key is to make it as easy as possible for customers to find you. Business cards, postcards, and hangtags are just a few examples of using more than just the Internet to connect with customers. Keep in mind, though, that once they’ve heard your name, potential customers are likely to turn to the Internet for more information. So make sure you’ve got plenty of content online for them to find.