Are you marketing your freelance business? Whether you’re a brand-new freelancer or an advanced freelancer, marketing is critical. It’s the key to keeping your business afloat. Still, many people find themselves struggling with this and making terrible freelance marketing mistakes.
These marketing mistakes are common because freelancers have a lot on their plate. As a result, marketing ends up on the back burner more frequently than it should. The bad news is, making these mistakes can end your business before it even gets off the ground.
Want to know more about how you can avoid this? Keep reading to discover seven freelance marketing mistakes that will ruin your business.
The consequences of not marketing at all
Before we jump into the freelance marketing mistakes, let’s discuss the consequences of not marketing. If you don’t actively market your business, you won’t have a business.
You can set up a great LinkedIn profile, build a great portfolio or set up a freelance website, but that’s not enough. If you want to be a successful freelancer you can’t have the mentality that if you build it they will come.
That’s not the way this works. Even most established freelancers engage in some sort of marketing. The belief that clients will just flock to you is dangerous.
Marketing may sound like a task you don’t want to take on or a lot of work. However, if you want to go freelance full-time, you have to make marketing a part of your process. It has to be a priority in your business. You need to learn how to leverage marketing methods that work best for you.
If that sounds overwhelming…don’t worry. Next, we’ll talk about some of the biggest freelance marketing mistakes you can make so you can avoid them.
7 Awful Freelance Marketing Mistakes
Targeting everyone is a common mistake among new freelancers. If you’re asked who your target client is and your answer is anyone who will pay you, you won’t find success with freelancing.
This doesn’t mean that you have to choose a niche if you’re not ready to specialize right away. It does mean, though, that you should understand why your clients need you and what you’re most knowledgeable about.
For example, I didn’t choose a niche until I was years into my freelancing career. I considered myself a generalist. However, I was still targeting clients and industries that I know something about or have an interest in. I suggest you do the same.
Not being clear about what you do
Another common problem for Freelancers is not being completely clear about what it is that they do. For a long time, when someone asked me what I did I would simply say that I was a writer.
However, I do a lot more than write for my clients. I help them attract more leads and customers by writing copy that aligns with their target audience.
Can you see the difference?
When your marketing what you do to potential clients, be very clear about what it is that you do and how it helps them. This will make it much easier to sell your services.
If you’re having trouble explaining what you do, think about it like the classic elevator pitch. In about 30 seconds you should be able to tell anyone who asks you who you are oh, what you do, why it matters, and what makes your approach unique.
Every freelancer’s “elevator pitch” will look a little bit different. The point is, the more clear you can be about why what you do matters, the more clients will pay attention. It helps them see the value of outsourcing work to you. Don’t sell your craft. Sell your expertise.
Not having a portfolio
No matter what marketing method you choose, you have to come up with ways to make yourself appear professional and stand out. Not having a portfolio is a big mistake because when you talk to potential clients, they’ll want to see your work.
They’ll want to see that you have the skills to do what you’re claiming that you can do. Having a portfolio shows clients that you’re serious about your business.
If a potential client asks you for samples, you should immediately be able to point them to your work. Having an awesome portfolio set up allows you to do that.
Want to know more about how to create a portfolio? Check out this post on everything you need to be a freelancer. You’ll find my suggestions on the different places to set up your portfolio.
Only marketing when business is slow
For more advanced freelancers, only marketing when business is slow is a common trap. This is understandable. If you have a lot of freelance work it can seem difficult to come up with the time to market your business.
The problem with this is that when your current contracts end or if a client drops you unexpectedly you can quickly find with limited income. No matter what kind of freelancer are you are, it’s important to keep marketing.
When you wait until business is slow, you’ll find yourself in trouble because new deals won’t always close right away. Sometimes it can take weeks or even months to close a deal with a potential client.
If you want income stability as a freelancer, marketing consistently is the key to making that happen. Create a marketing plan that you can use to keep yourself on track every week. That way, you won’t find these tasks falling to the bottom of your to-do list every week.
Spreading yourself too thin
On the other side of things, some freelancers go overboard with marketing. They think that they need to be everywhere. You’ll find them on job boards, every social media network, at in-person events and everything in between.
Then they wonder why they aren’t getting ANY work.
Here’s the thing: you want to have a couple of marketing methods as you’re building your business.
BUT you don’t need to use every marketing method. You don’t need to be everywhere.
If you spread yourself too thin, you won’t see results from any of the marketing that you’re doing. Instead, experiment with a few marketing methods and find the ones that work for you.
I’ve tried everything under the sun for marketing my freelance business, and these days I get most of my clients from pitching. However, I know some freelancers who get many of their clients from using Facebook groups. I know other freelancers who built their business almost entirely off referrals. (More on this below).
Your goal should be to dominate the marketing channels that work for you.
Making marketing all about you
When you’re marketing your freelance business, it’s easy to create content that’s all about you. However, if you’re always talking about yourself clients are going to tune you out.
Remember to listen to your market. Engage with the content that your potential clients are posting. Provide content for them that’s actually helpful. Show clients your expertise and interact with them like a real person. When you do that, you’ll get the chance to build more genuine connections and establish authority in your market. That will ultimately lead you to greater success as a freelancer.
Not asking for referrals
I’ll be honest, this is one of the freelancing marketing mistakes I frequently make myself. If you’re not asking your clients for referrals, you’re missing out on opportunities to grow your business.
Think about it.
If you have a project with a client that goes well and your contract ends, why not ask them to refer you? If they know anyone else who could use your expertise, they’ll likely pass your name along.
Word of mouth is a powerful thing. Asking clients who already know, like and trust you to refer you to a similar client is a great way to bring in new business. It also doesn’t require a lot of extra effort on your end.
This isn’t limited to your clients either. You can also ask your other freelancers you know or people that connect with you on social media for referrals.
However, if you choose to do this, do it with caution. You don’t want to bug your audience or other freelancers constantly asking for work. If you ask these other contacts for referrals, do it casually. Make this ask after you’ve already established yourself as an invaluable part of their network.
Bottom line: Fixing your freelance marketing mistakes
Marketing your freelance business on top of everything else you’re responsible for as a is challenging. However, fixing your freelance marketing mistakes isn’t all that complicated. By understanding common mistakes, you’ll already be steps ahead of other freelancers.
Do you have more questions about marketing your freelance biz? Let me know by leaving a comment below.