7 ways to market your business (and why you need to)
Marketing has a mixed reputation, both within and beyond the world of freelancers. Some people love it and get all up into “persuasion” and testing button colors and “finding pain points.” For others, it’s a chore – setting up a rigorous social media schedule, running apps and schedulers, and maybe even hiring someone to create content to post. User tests, reader feedback, conversion metrics and “connecting with the audience” – these are all part of marketing, and of freelancer life.
Always market yourself (even if you don’t need clients)
One of the foundations of staying in business as a freelancer is keeping a full client pipeline. The only way to make that happen is to market yourself every day. Even if your pipeline is full now, there will come a day when all of the projects on your docket are finished, and then what? Effective marketing will keep your docket full.
But it only works if you actually do it.
You need to set aside time every day to market yourself. Aim for an hour, and make it non-negotiable. Whether you’re reaching for higher-paying clients, trying to get established in a niche, or simply trying to find traction as a new freelancer, your own marketing should be top priority.
You should also be marketing every day even if your docket is full of ideal clients. Your task: find more of your ideal clients, charging 10% more. Or maybe your task is to develop a new income stream in that time!
How to market yourself as a web designer
There are all kinds of ways to market yourself, and some of these methods don’t actually involve you doing much of anything (which is my favorite kind of marketing!).
If you’re just beginning to take marketing yourself seriously, your hour-a-day (or however much time you dedicate to it) should be spent figuring out your own business so you can understand how best to market yourself.
Next steps involve figuring out who your ideal clients are, and then finding out where they are and what they want from someone like you so you can come up with effective ways to reach them.
You’ll need to have a website they can visit (through one of your other marketing channels). Your site needs to do two things:
- Make it clear that you’re the right person to hire.
- Make it easy for them to take the next step toward hiring you.
Once you’ve got this infrastructure figured out, you can start cranking the self-promotion widget (no ick-factors required). Let’s take a look at how all of this will go in practice.
1. Understand your positioning and your ideal clients
What makes you awesome as a designer? What are the skills and interests that make you awesome at helping a particular “someone”?
You can reverse-engineer this by asking yourself one question: Who is the person I am most equipped to help? (An alternative approach might be asking who you most want to help.) The answer to this question is your ideal client.
Once you know who your ideal client is and why you are the best designer to help that person, you’ve got a golden nugget.
2. Locate your ideal clients and learn their language
For some, locating the ideal client is relatively easy. For others, it’s a little bit tricky. If your ideal client is mommy bloggers, you can probably find some great watering holes in forums, at blogger conferences, and in Facebook groups. If it’s gyms, all you need is a quick search in your local area to get started. Poke around and see what kinds of things your ideal clients talk about online. Learn the words and phrases they use to talk about their businesses, and get a feel for what their common questions are.
The more you can understand your ideal clients, the better your marketing efforts will be.
3. Send “warm” emails
These are like cold calls, but more targeted. A warm email is one that you send to an ideal prospect, introducing yourself and offering your services. It’s warm for two reasons – you speak this person’s language, and (if you’re smart) you find a touch-point to connect with him or her. Do a quick Google search to find out what’s going on with the company, and start your email with a congratulations or some other appreciation before launching into your introduction.
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4. Be visible where they are
If your ideal clients are moms, you need to be circulating pins on Pinterest. If your ideal clients are techy, you need to be on Reddit. Find and join the Facebook groups your ideal clients like, and give a helpful answer to every question about websites that pops up. Visit the gyms and talk to the personal trainers about why they do or don’t have their own websites. Start conversations and answer questions – you’ll become known as the go-to person in that circle, and that’s how you get great clients.
5. Offer incentives for referrals
If your past and current clients are happy, offer them an incentive to send more work your way. People who are thrilled with your work will want to spread the word about you, and they might be even more likely to if they know they’ll get 10% off their next project if one of their friends or colleagues hires you.
6. Make sure all your email sigs point to your services
Email signatures are sometimes overlooked, and sometimes overblown. I’ve been freelancing since 2010 and have picked up some clients who saw my email signature, but it’s not a major source of prospects for me. That said, it can only help your business to promote it in your email signature.
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Make sure every signature on every device and in every email account mentions you as a web designer, points to your website, and would catch the attention of your ideal client (or someone who knows your ideal client). It takes maybe 10 minutes to get your sig set up across all your accounts, and it’s a completely passive marketing tool after that.
7. Find the spotlight
This is a fun way to get in front of your ideal client! If you like writing, look for guest blogging opportunities on the blogs your clients like to read. Find a way to tie that blog’s focus into web design, and make sure your bio includes a link back to your site with a fantastic offer for that blog’s readers.
Prefer chatting to writing? Look for podcasts and apply to be interviewed. I personally love doing podcasts because I love getting to know other entrepreneurs and getting new perspectives on freelancing. You can do the same with YouTube interviews, if you’ve got an audience that loves those. And don’t forget traditional media outlets like local radio and TV!
So tell me: What’s been your most successful marketing strategy so far, and which one will you try next?
Nice summary here. I think the best thing anyone who starts or want to expand their business can do is to find the ideal client and get focused on that “persona”. Trying to appeal to everyone is never going to work.
Nice article! I like the points you’ve mentioned. Not long ago I’ve read one blog on this topic jsoule-webdesign.com in which there are some more tips mentioned how to market the business in web.
Wonderful article I am inspired after seeing and reading