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How to Market Yourself During Your First Year of Freelancing

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Amanda Winstead is a writer focusing on many topics including freelancing. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.

Creating your marketing strategy in your first year of freelancing can be scary. Mainly because when you start talking about marketing, you start viewing yourself seriously as a business.

If chills just ran down your spine at the mere mention of business, you aren’t alone. But if you want to make real money as a freelancer, you have to start treating it like a business. And that begins with learning how to market yourself.

Good marketing could be the difference between excelling in your first year or struggling to gain any momentum. If you want to excel but honestly have no idea where to start regarding marketing, you’re in the right place.

Setting yourself up for marketing success in the first year of freelancing starts with an in-depth look at where you and your finances are right now.

Take a Look at Your Finances and Life

When you’re diving into your first year as a freelancer, it’s essential to look at the current state of your finances and life. It’s crucial because:

  1. You need to be realistic about whether you can commit to freelancing.
  2. You must figure out how much money you need/want to make each month.
  3. You need to know how long your finances can sustain you until you get your first client and beyond.

First, take an in-depth look at your life. Assess whether you have a support system to get through the ups and downs of freelancing. Examine your current lifestyle and how it would change with a more significant commitment to freelancing. And get honest with yourself about whether you’re ready mentally and emotionally.

Then, dive into your finances. Document how much you have in savings.  Record the amount of debt you have and what your monthly expenses are.  Also, write down your short and long-term financial goals. This information will help you solidify how long you have to find your first few clients and how much money you want to make each month.

Also, think about finding funding for your freelance business. Money doesn’t have to be why you put your freelancing dreams on hold. Instead, explore your options. Personal loans, grants, lines of credit, and crowdfunding are all options to get your freelancing business off the ground.

After confirming your finances and life are ready for a transition into freelancing, it’s time to determine what you’re offering.

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Determine What You’re Offering

Marketing yourself as a freelancer is easier when you know exactly what you want to offer potential clients. It also helps you determine who would benefit from those services, a.k.a. your ideal clients.

Start by listing what you’re good at and what you love to do. Next, look closely at your list and pinpoint which ones you could make a steady business out of. Out of those, choose your top three and research their freelancing potential. Then, select the one you’re most excited about.

Niche it down as much as you can too. For example, instead of a freelance graphic designer for businesses, you could niche that down to a freelance graphic designer specializing in product design for small businesses.

Once you determine what you’re offering, define to whom you’re offering your services.

Define Who You’re Offering Your Services To

Who are you offering the above services to? Big businesses? Small companies? Solopreneurs? Nonprofits? Women-owned businesses? It’s imperative to define who your ideal clients are to streamline your marketing efforts in the first year as a freelancer.

List what kind of companies or individuals would be a dream to work with. Also, jot down a few notes about why you would love to work with these clients.

Then, create 2-3 ideal client personas. These will be semi-fictional representations of the companies or individuals you want to work with. Document demographic details, communication preferences, where they spend time (online and offline), financial information, motivations, needs, and challenges for each.

And remember: your clients need to be a match for you as much as you’re a match for them.

With your services and ideal clients defined, work diligently on your personal brand.

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Build Your Personal Brand

Like any other business, a solid brand is necessary to stand out and make a name for yourself as a freelancer. In this case, it’s going to be a personal brand.

How do you want the public to perceive you? How do you want to promote yourself and your services? When someone mentions your name, what’s the first thing you want to pop up in someone’s mind?

Writing down your answers to the above questions will get you started building your personal brand. In addition, write down your core values, vision for the business, and what you want your clients to experience when they work with you.

Then, make your personal brand known to the outside world. For example, get on social media. Engage with your ideal clients, share your knowledge and experience on the services you want to provide, and start meaningful conversations.

Building your personal brand will be a continuous effort, but spending a reasonable amount of time on it in your first year is essential.

It’s also essential to ensure you have solid tech tools to help you.

Be Sure You Have the Right Tech Tools in Place

Your marketing efforts and freelance business won’t survive without the right tech tools in place to support you. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money on these tools or acquire every one a successful freelancer suggests.

It’s all about finding the right mix of technology for your unique freelance business needs. The first step is noting what you’re currently using technology-wise for freelancing.

Next, think about what tools you would get if money weren’t an issue. Be sure to list pricing next to each tool you want to acquire. Also, aside from the technology you need to perform your services, consider tools that will help you with marketing, sales, and customer service.

Then, pick a few tools you can get right now to help you move forward in your freelance business the first year. After these, you can purchase tools as needed. Just be sure any tools you add to your tech stack are necessary and manageable.

Next, establish how you will reach out to your ideal clients and attract them to you.

Document a Clear, Concise Marketing Plan

How are you going to reach out to potential clients? What are you going to say to them? How often are you going to reach out to them? What marketing channels will you use? What kind of marketing content do you need to create? What about an inbound strategy?

All of these questions are foundational for an actual marketing plan. You must create a clear, concise marketing plan for your freelance business to get it off the ground in your first year. You can reference this document when your marketing efforts stagnate and need redirection.

Detail the following in your marketing plan:

  • Budget
  • Marketing goals
  • Ideal client information
  • An outbound and inbound strategy
  • Types of marketing you want to use
  • How you’re going to track progress
  • The services you’re offering and pricing
  • The kind of marketing content you need
  • Marketing channels you want to leverage
  • A bit about your competitors and how you’re different

Conclusion

Your marketing efforts must be consistent and relentless in your first year. It’s also essential to strengthen your mindset as a freelancer. If you can’t stay positive and confident in the down times of freelancing, the chances of you making it past your first year are slim. And when you do gain momentum as a freelancer, make sure you stay on top of your finances and reinvest in your business. That way, your business will evolve with you.

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