So you’re not working for a design agency anymore. Congrats. Now you have to work on increasing your visibility as a freelancer. How to do that with the highest resources generated / resources spent ratio and get more freelance work this year?
It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but you really do need to be good before you can start freelancing. If you feel that you’re not on the level that would allow you to charge for your work, offer you work on a pro bono basis. This will go a long way in the long term in both promoting you as a freelancer and earning client testimonials.
Don’t want to work for free? Try contacting newly funded Kickstarter campaigns and offer the creators to build a website for their project. They might use some of that cash they just received to build a website.
One useful thing to remember is that if nobody knows you exist, it’s exponentially more harder for people to actually hire you. Let this simple fact be a constant motivation for everything you do online when boosting your visibility as a freelancer.
[bctt tweet=”If nobody knows you exist, it’s exponentially harder for people to actually hire you.”]
Where do you start?
By having a strong online presence of course. You may think that spending your time posting work to Dribbble, Behance, DeviantArt, Tumblr, Twitter all kinds of forums and everywhere else is a waste of time. And I agree that posting to all these websites may seem excessive.
But think about your potential client. When he googles your name, will he find a lonely Facebook or Twitter profile with photos from your latest trip to Austin? Or will he find a really active, vibrant and authoritative presence online?
Will the first page of google search results speak in your favour? Good reputation has to be earned, so think ahead about how you can ease the employer’s quest to find the best freelance fit for his job.
Have a website
It goes without saying, but being active on all these websites without having an actual website with your portfolio is just sad. Creating and effective graphic design portfolio is an art, but there are certain tips that are easy to implement, yet will yield great return.
One often overlooked aspect of any portfolio is the testimonials or client reviews. Don’t write them on your own of course, they’ll look fake and this will harm your personal brand if (when) discovered. Read this in-depth article to learn how to ask for testimonials and get something better than “Top freelancer. Would recommend.”
Polish the copy on your website
If you intend to drive potential customers or leads to your website (which I’m sure you do), and actually get someone to press that “Hire me!” button, you should be as specific as possible about your services and the benefits for the customer.
Make sure you don’t use any jargon, aim to use the same words that your ideal customers use to describe your services. Researching this only seems like a great challenge if you don’t know where to start. This guide from conversion rate optimisation kings at unbounce on writing copy that converts will get you started.
[bctt tweet=”When writing copy, use the same words your customers use to describe this kinds of services.”]
What better way there is to establish yourself as an expert and get thousands of people to pay attention to you for more than 5 seconds?
Yes, this means you’ll have to start blogging. No, you are not late to the train. On the contrary, you’re quite on time. Starting a blog is now easier than ever. If you’re hesitating to start a WordPress or Ghost blog right away, you can always begin with platforms like Medium.
There is a number of tricks you can use to significantly improve your skill of putting words on paper. Read the Write Every Day: How to Meet Your Daily Writing Goals from thewritelife.com to learn the most useful of them.
Be active on social networks
But don’t just set up buffer and share the popular articles you find on layervault news. Take it a one step further by actually using these networks to socialize with people. Find someone who needs help. Help him. Profit. Easiest way to earn points towards expert status.
[bctt tweet=”Find someone who needs help on Twitter. Help him. Profit. Easiest way to earn points towards expert status.”]
Don’t accept all the customers
You’ve already denied access to your services to people who are not willing to pay your rate. Make the same choice with all the tiny jobs. Don’t fall for the ‘Do this and I’ll keep sending more job your way’ trick. These clients will brand you as low-cost provider who will do anything for pennies.
You’ll end up spending valuable time with them, and what will you get in return? Them telling about your services to their peers. Sounds good, right? Not really. These fine gentlemen now believe that you do your work cheaply, yet on time and agree to perform tasks not required in the initial task description. Not exactly the type of visibility you should be looking for.
Ask your clients for referrals
Referrals are huge for the freelancers. But you already know that. So go ahead, ask your clients for referrals. The worst possible outcome is the “No” answer.
Happy customer is the one who will be more likely to bring you new work and refer you to peers. Over delivering always does the trick. But beware of employers asking for improvements or “minor changes” for what you have delivered as a sign of goodwill free of charge.
[bctt tweet=”Go ahead, ask your clients for referrals. The worst possible outcome is the “No” answer. “]
Leave the bidding websites
Work to leave the bidding websites, where decent clients are hard to find. While you struggle to generate the cash flow that would allow you to leave, make sure you make the best use of your time there. Improve your skills and work with those clients that you’ll be able to “take with you”, once the time comes.
When bidding, always put yourself in the client’s shoes and try to think about the whole freelancer hiring problem from their point of view. A great read about this comes from someone with experience from the other side of the hiring process, Guillaume Devinat. I recommend reading this to anyone who wishes to learn how serious clients find and filter the bidders on freelancing websites.
This one is obvious, yet a little naive if we try to apply this in real life. One thing to keep in mind when determining your rate is the value you provide. And the thing about value is that you can easily manipulate the perceived value of your work.
Consider one example. All things equal, what provider do you think offers best value, the one who charges $10 or the one who charges $80? That’s what I thought. Of course, you can’t jump to $80 right after you start. This is why you should double your rate any time you get fully booked for an entire month. It’s a simple trick that is used by the pros like Paul Jarvis.
[bctt tweet=”Charge more. All things equal, who offers best value, the freelancer who charges $10 or $80? “]
P.S. Download the freelancer visibility checklist with the exact steps you should undertake to increase your reach in 2015. Includes three extra tips not covered anywhere in this acticle. GIMME!
Over to you
Are you a successful freelancer? What did you do to help you boost your visibility? What tips did you find most useful? Let me know in the comments section below.