The number of freelancers is steadily on the rise. Over 57 million Americans took up freelancing in 2019.
Since then, the pandemic, combined with the economic downturn, has meant that while more and more people are taking up freelancing as a way to make money, the number of gigs itself has come down.
If you are serious about making an income through freelancing, it is important that you set up an inbound marketing channel. This is a lot more cost-effective than advertisements and should ensure that you have a steady stream of new business inquiries, even in a downturn.
1. Establish Yourself In A Freelance Marketplace
When you are starting, you may be tempted to take up projects across different job boards and freelancer marketplaces.
But here is the thing – clients seek freelancers who they can trust. Someone with several dozens of happy clients is thus more attractive to a potential client than someone just starting.
By focusing on one marketplace, you will be able to build a strong portfolio that a potential client will be interested in.
Twine is a fantastic platform for freelancers seeking work across 150 different specialties, including graphic design, development, marketing, animation, and video editing. Sign up and build a portfolio here to build a solid stream of inbound referrals to your freelancing business.
2. Become An Influencer
When an individual or a business is looking for a freelancer to help them with their project, the first place that they turn to for recommendation is their friends and family network. Today, this also includes their social media network like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, or LinkedIn.
Becoming an influencer can thus work wonders. As an influencer, you command top-of-the-mind recall among your followers – and these followers become your advocates when someone in their network is looking for help.
The good thing is that you do not need millions of social media followers to be successful. Focus on one or two social media platforms that are best for your line of work and focus on engaging your audience and becoming a thought leader.
For example, if you are an illustrator, pick a platform like Instagram and build a strong cred here. This is how you do it:
- Start by inviting your friends and families to follow your account. These are people who generously like and engage with your posts, thereby driving visibility up
- Offer insightful tips and comments on Instagram submissions that are targeted at your prospective customers. For instance, you may follow other Instagram accounts posting their graphic illustration work and engage with their content.
- Set up a consistent schedule of new content on your Instagram account. Make use of tools that allow you to schedule your Instagram posts in advance to ensure consistency.
- Have a strong landing page linked from your bio (more on this in the next section). Make sure you reference this link from each of your submissions so that people who like your work can reach out to you directly.
If you are a digital marketer, you may consider investing in other platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn. LinkedIn, in fact, is a fantastic platform for thought leadership. Besides, the engagement you see here is much higher than what you might potentially get on Facebook or Twitter.
Building a reputation on LinkedIn is straightforward –
- Create a LinkedIn page for your company or yourself
- Connect with your industry friends to start – these are people who engage with your content and drive visibility
- Build a consistent stream of thoughtful content that provokes discussions and also establishes yourself as a thought leader
- Consider investing in LinkedIn Ads to drive engagement although this is optional.
A well-executed LinkedIn marketing campaign can do wonders as far as driving leads to your business goes.
3. Set Up A Drip Marketing Campaign
Not everyone in your target group is going to work with you right away. Sometimes, you might need to stay on their radar until it is the right time. Other times, you may need to nurture the fence-sitters till they make a decision.
Setting up a drip marketing campaign can be effective here. Unlike social media marketing where your success with a prospect is impacted by factors outside your control (how frequently the prospect visits the platform, the prevailing algorithms at play, etc.), you have much better control in a drip campaign.
The first step here is to start a blog. The quantity of content does not matter as much as quality does. Maintain a consistent schedule (one post a week or fortnight is more than adequate) and write comprehensively on topics related to your industry.
Most importantly, write from your own experience – not a generic third-party view. Again, this is to establish yourself as a thought leader and someone a client can trust their projects with.
Use your blog platform to build an email list. Here is a step-by-step process of the entire workflow.
- Publish insightful content on your blog and persuade visitors to sign up for your newsletter
- Maintain a consistent blogging schedule
- Each time you publish a post, make sure you notify your subscribers over email
- In addition to this, constantly advertise your skills either within the same newsletter or as a separate mailer to your audience
- Promote your blog posts across the social media platforms you are targeting
- Share your list capture page on your social media profile (on Instagram, you have this in the bio)
- Invest in other organic traffic building strategies like SEO, YouTube marketing, and so on.
You now have a well-oiled inbound marketing machine where you constantly reach new audiences, and then capture these visitors, nurture them, and finally convert them into paying customers.
Perseverance Is Key
Let’s be honest here – the strategy mentioned here is not easy and cannot be achieved overnight. But here is the thing – most people reading this article must already have at least a minimal presence on social media platforms.
This gives you a head start in the process. Build a social media and blogging calendar and keep persevering and you will have an inbound traffic stream before you know it.