How to better market your skills as a freelancer
Posted by TUDOR URSENTE
A (very) short guide for every office human
We live in a society that celebrates instant information and in that endless stream it gets harder and harder for your unique voice to be seen or heard. Times are also complicated right now, as strange as they can be, which translated into a lot of incertitude. Freelancers make no exception, if anything, some of them are standing right at the epicentre of it all: instability, uncertainty, even anxiety, these are all feelings a freelancer might have experienced in the last month, even in the last year. Maybe you've gone through it as well. If so, know that you are not alone. And while a pep talk might not be enough right now, not even by a long-shot, we thought we might give you some pointers on how to better market your skills, so those future project you've been thinking of start knocking at your door. Or at least arrive via e-mail, that could work as well.
A portfolio is essential:
This might feel redundant for many professionals out there, but still, you might be surprised by the numbers of those who, for whatever reason, gave little importance to this step. A portfolio tells the story of your professional journey, sure, but it can also tell your story. Get a bit creative with it. Start with a little story about yourself and make it unique. Keep it short yet write it in the ”key” of your skil or skills. Then give us the goods! Start and end with key pieces, so that you'll make it more organic, keep fillers out, let it be online (that is a must), let it be different (maybe give some ”insiders” goodies, in the form of the creative process behind a projects, for most people write and post strictly the end result; some ”behind the curtains” might therefor give you an edge) and constantly curate it for the project you want (maybe you want a freelancing project in a specific field, so give your chance a boost by only submitting field-related projects to ”those in charge”).
Don't be afraid of the ”big” platforms:
Sure, it might not pay off instantly, but that's why you should be present everywhere. Big freelancing platforms as well. Use your portfolio presentations there to set yourself aside from ”the pack” and do not be afraid of the competition. There's room for (almost) everyone. Try Freelancer, UpWork, Fiverr as well. Worst case scenario, your portfolio gets some extra SEO credit.
Social Media works even if you're ”on a budget”:
Maybe you're really on a budget right now, so Facebook Ads are out of the question. For now. Luckily, when it comes to freelancing and ”selling yourself”, that's not really that big of a problem. Still, you'll need to put yourself out there. Start with an honest LinkedIn account. Let your projects do the talking and keep away from that pompous presentation. In a world for a ”wizards”, ”fairies”, ”experts”, ”ninjas”, ”stars” or ”Gods”, be a ”professional”. That should be enough. Be active as much as you can and try adding as many entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and HR professionals to your contacts. And don't forget to introduce yourself to them. Don't worry, the risk of them biting is really, really low.
Facebook is quintessential. Join as many professional groups as you can, be them of freelancers, entrepreneurs or professionals. That's where you want to be. Be an active listener, wait for the right opportunities and try to stand out in the most natural yet so often missed way possible...:
...By bringing added-value, you'll truly stand out:
If these times thought us something is that we're in it together, rich or poor, young or old, Harry Potter fans and those who have questionable taste. Empathy and altruism are therefore values that should guide us. With that in mind, ”be the change” but also witness how good karma works. Mainly because it has little to do with cosmic energies and everything to do with ”proof of concept”. See a post of someone who is struggling with marketing while you are a marketing professional? Jump in! Don't be stingy with words either, truly help that person. Are you proficient in IT and you see someone kicking his head on Facebook's wall with a website problem? Help them fix it. Trust us, these are the things that gets you noticed and while those people that you helped might not need your services, others will read about it as well (not to mention a good recommandation is always welcomed).
Double down on it by regularly giving added value through blog posts on your website, through short clips on your Instagram or through posts on your Facebook. Do that once a week and you'll see results rather faster than you think.
Be flexible but know your worth:
Last but not least, let's talk rewards. A professional needs to make a living, so paychecks will be discussed. There's just no way around it. First rule: know your worth! It's true, in these uncertain times, thinking about bargaining feels like a necessity but trust us, it isn't. Not long term anyway. What you can do is be flexible with both your schedule and with the understanding of the fact that your ”favorite” services might not be the most popular one. So have no fear going for what is more ”on demand”, as long as you are proficient in them. Oh, fear not to to that little ”extra surprise” as well. Let's say you are a graphic designer contracted to do a small company logo. Maybe surprise the client with a business card as well. Free of charge. These little things are usually not forgotten. Trust us.