Monday, October 12, 2009

Five Tips on How to Be an Effective Freelance Marketer

By Philip Wocken

“You mean freelance design, right?” Nope, you heard me right. No longer is freelancing exclusive to creatives. With marketing budgets getting slashed left and right, more companies are looking at cost-effective ways to outsource their marketing needs and many times a freelancer/consultant is more economical than a firm. The expansion of the Internet means that opportunities are plentiful for those willing to test the waters of entrepreneurship. More and more marketers (and other professionals) are launching their own consulting and freelancing companies for a variety of reasons. Some are entrepreneurs at heart and will only be satisfied by being their own boss. Other professionals freelance as a secondary source of income. And there are those that get thrown into the world of freelancing because of a downsizing at work or another situation beyond their control. So maybe you fit into one of these categories, maybe you’ve dabbled in a little bit of freelancing or maybe you’ve considered as much? With a couple of pointers, you may be surprised at the possibilities. Some things to keep in mind:

1. Know where to look. The web is an easy place to start building a client base. No longer are you bound to the confines of your geographic region. Email, conference calls and video calling (via Skype) means that a client in London is as close as a client in Minneapolis. The marketplace is global and the need for freelance marketers is ever-present. Freelance websites will match employers with freelancers and usually charge a subscription fee, project percentage or both. Freelancers then have the ability to bid on projects as they become available. Some websites will cater exclusively to design freelancers and others will cater to many different types of freelancers (including marketing/advertising freelancers), so you just have to find the website that you feel most comfortable with. I prefer to use because that is the website that best fits my needs. But like I said, the marketplace is global. There is a lot of work available to be bid on and with a lot of other freelancers looking for work, you have to be smart about how you position yourself.

2. Carve out a niche. I know that it seems silly for me to sit here and tell a fellow marketer that they have to find a specialty and they have to find a niche where their skill set is marketable, but it needs to be said. Take it from my experience. I thought I could win every project that I bid on and that I was a perfect match for each project. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way. There is simply too much competition and not enough time. Because I bid on every project that was available, I was missing out on the niche that I should have been focusing on the whole time. If you excel at writing up marketing plans, focus on those projects. If you’re a PR powerhouse, focus on promoting an author’s book. Are you a social media junkie? Try focusing on social media management projects. You get the idea.

3. Diversify. Not to contradict the previous statement, diversification is a must in freelancing. While you may only bid on the projects that fit your main skill sets, you have to be multi-faceted to meet the needs of your clients. If you win a project to draft a marketing plan for a client, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to provide some of the additional services that you suggest in the action plan? If the marketing plan calls for a new brand identity, a social media push and a PR campaign, consider diversifying yourself so that you’re able to capture that extra revenue. Look into taking a couple of design classes at a local community college (or teach yourself), pick up some design software (like Adobe Design Suite), learn everything you can about social media strategies/tools/best practices/etc and brush up on your copywriting skills. It’s always been said that it is much easier to increase revenue by selling to your current customer base rather than selling to prospective/new customers.

4. Portray a professional image. Yes, you’re a freelancer, but consider calling yourself a consultant instead. Get a website. There are countless website templates that you can buy and easily customize to fit your brand. Heck, you can get a full Flash website for under $70 at Get a business name, a simple logo and some economical business cards VistaPrint is a good bet. Yes, you may be a solo act and your clients may understand that, but there are a lot of freelancers that run a sloppy, rinky-dink operation. You don’t want to compete with them. If you’re the complete package you can charge a reasonable rate, build their trust and retain their business.

5. Be accountable, flexible and stay focused. These tie in with the professionalism mentioned above. Your clients will expect that you will complete your projects correctly, on time and under pressure. It may require late-night work and inconvenient hours, but that’s all part of the job description. The best thing about coordinating your own schedule is that you can work from home, you can work from the road and pretty much anywhere you want. BUT, you have to make sure are able to stay on task. It’s easy to get distracted when you work on your own. Turn off the TV, create a playlist of easy listening music on Pandora and put your nose to the grindstone. If you treat it like a job, you’ll have better luck staying on task and you’ll able to build your client list even faster.

Now you’re prepared with the tools you’ll need to venture into the world of freelancing (I’m sorry) consulting. Still nervous about it? Give it a shot, within a project or two you’ll already have your start-up expenses paid for. Good luck!

Philip Wocken is an inventive marketing manager specializing in Online Marketing techniques. He can be reached on Twitter @BuzzBrains and at buzzbrains [AT] live [DOT] com.

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Sam Beamond said...

Great points Philip. I am in a similar situation to the scenarios that you talked about. Take a look at I would appreciate any pointers if you get a chance.


Philip Wocken said...

Hi Sam,
Great site...very professional. You do a good job at portraying the Beamond Creative "team." Your testimonials prove that you're accountable, professional and reliable, and your blog content proves that you're knowledgeable as well. As long as you can build that client base and know where to look for work, you'll be well on your way.


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