Welcome to the Freelance Era.

Say it louder for the people in the back

Sharing your story with the world

Marketing is one of those things that people love to say they’re not good at (almost as much as sales). But with a little bit of prep, it should be relatively easy to create the key pieces you’ll need to tell the world why you’re so awesome — and additionally in a way that they’ll love and want to share with others.

What makes you unique?

This sounds a lot more complicated than it needs to be (but from experience, it can be as complicated as you’d like it to be). Describing who you are and what you do are great places to start, as it’s highly unlikely anyone else will have had the exact same experiences as you, and be doing the exact same things. 

Adding explanations of your process and the things you care about provide even more uniqueness to your profile, and give prospective clients something interesting to use when starting conversations. 

Having one thing you’d like anyone who comes across your work to remember, whether it’s a website, presentation, portfolio, or recommendation among colleagues and friends, is important. Or as Simon Sinek famously said on TED; “Start with Why.” 

Building your unique story around your ‘why’ then becomes more about filling in the blanks of your life, and less about being different from other people. 

If you tell a story people can relate to that has a call to action, chances are people will follow through on this. We all love a good story.

Website & portfolio

If you’re in the creative or consulting industries, there’s a high likelihood someone along the way will ask, or has asked, to see your website and portfolio. Chances are they’ll be asked in the same breath, too. But that doesn’t mean the content needs to be completely different. 

In advertising, effective frequency suggests the repetition of messages in different media can help people remember pretty much anything. So don’t feel so weird about reusing content when it makes sense to — brands have been doing it for decades.

The amount of no-code websites (or websites which allow content and media changes using drag-and-drop functionality) has increased over the years. They’re quick, easy, and relatively affordable ways to build a website for companies and individuals. 

Squarespace has a number of their templates that are easy to tweak and have beautiful visuals already embedded. Wix also has a template for almost any project, and is just as easy to use. Chances are you’ll be able to find a template on either option where all you’d have to do is slightly tweak the content, upload your headshot, and add some links. Even easier than pie.

For creating a portfolio, Canva, which also has a number of ready-made templates, provides the inspiration and tools you’ll need to accomplish something that might have seemed daunting in the past. 

Case studies

There’s been a big push for measuring the return on investment (ROI) of your work as a freelancer. Understanding why you were brought onto a project, what you set out to accomplish, then how you actually did it once the project was complete, is something companies may be looking for even more in cash-strapped times. 

There’s no real set format for case studies, but there are some common ‘formulas’ for lack of a better term. 

Sometimes it might make sense to have a problem / solution focus. 

Other times, it might be best to simply answer why / what / how. 

And yet other times, you’ll have incredible testimonial quotes from those you’ve worked with. 

No matter which way you write it, here’s a format that hardly ever fails: 

  • Provide context on the company or project
  • Outline what you were trying to achieve
  • Explain a bit about how you did that
  • Add three milestones you achieved along the way.

Word of mouth

This might be considered one of the strongest forms of marketing, because a recommendation from a close friend or business acquaintance quickly and easily builds trust. You’ll get your foot in the door with a new client, and the person who recommends you feels like they’ve done something good. Everyone wins.

Building relationships with people to the point where they’re willing to recommend you is an amazing achievement. And one of the easiest ways to pay them back is by making it easy for them to recommend you. Giving them hints as to what to say when introducing you, does just this.

Cold outreach

But if word of mouth isn’t an option just yet, cold outreach is another way to get started. Even if people don’t have work for you, chances are they have a lot of advice to share, or better yet, keep you in mind for potential later work.  

To get started, we recommend creating a few templates for reaching out to people you don’t know. Keep track of which email gets the best response rate, and spend some time understanding why it gets the most responses. Then, send more emails that are similar to the one that works well.

Takeaways

  • Telling your real story makes you unique
  • Some information may be repeated on your website and portfolio — that’s the way it should be
  • Case studies explain what you did, for whom, and why they loved the results
  • Make it easy for people to recommend you by giving them the words to recommend you
  • Create a few email or message templates and track the number of positive responses