Starting out as a freelancer can be a difficult road to navigate, but not impossible. You may start off with various job sites, hunting down your clients like a detective hunting a notorious jewel thief. It’s only natural and how many freelance careers begin. It can be a frustrating endeavour at best.
So, imagine this: clients that seek you out. Just a fairytale notion, I hear you say? Not when you use the power of your blog to create a one-way ticket to a happy client/writer relationship. A tactic that is successful for many prominent freelancers.
But, for those just starting out, how do you go about getting the first client using your blog?
1) Tailor to a Specific Niche
Do you have in-depth knowledge of a specific business sector? Or, at the very least, are you willing to learn? To earn more money and attract better-suited clients, having your own little niche can be the best move to make in your freelance career.
A niche writing knowledge, design expertise or even coding language can lead to success for many freelancers. Not to mention, it means you can collect a pool of amazing sources, resources and experts, developing your output and ideas faster, you may even start to spot or start new trends. Having a niche also makes your website easier to find, as there will (likely) be fewer people searching for freelancers in your niche and thus your blog has a better chance of attracting clients.
For some, you may still be scratching your head: how on earth do you find a niche? In truth, a niche won’t come to you in a dream of drop into your lap one day. It takes a lot of writing, designing, coding, etc., to discover what you are good at.
Start researching a variety of niches in your vocation, trade magazines and other craft publications are a good start, and see what peaks your interest. Bizarrely, you may find you are particularly talented in breathing life into agricultural news – who knows! Explore and flex your freelancing muscles; you will find a niche before you know it!
2) Regular Updates
Blogging more often can be the best way to attract more traffic to your blog. More traffic means more people, who may or may not be looking for your services. Of course, fifty people may visit the blog and turn out not to be the client you are looking for. But, visitor number fifty-one just might be. It’s worth it in the long term, especially, as it can easily set you up as an authority figure in your niche.
Fresh content can also help your website to rank well in Google, as the crawlers pick up on fresh quality content on a regular basis. Though your ranking factors are typically inbound links, mobile friendliness, length of time users spend on site, etc., adding regular content can only help your Google rank. And as someone trying to sell a service, this is invaluable. Try and write about topics that a potential client will need to know about, like business owner advice. Advertise your services every so often as well for an added bonus as it can get your readers interested in your services.
3) Talk About Your Craft
Let’s take being a freelance writer as our example for this point. You are a writer who wants to sell your services in the art of wordcraftery. Yet, you never actually talk about writing. This is a fundamental mistake and one you should avoid on your journey to your first client via your blog.
Google “writing quotes” and you will find that many of those quotes come from writers themselves. Why? Because craftsmen talk about their trade to become noticed and celebrated for it.
Take Charles Dickens for example. A noted and celebrated writer today, but when his books were gaining notoriety he didn’t simply let them speak for themselves. He went on speaking tours, drawing in audiences to hear him tell his stories himself and give talks on the writing process as a whole. It let him have a different type of dialogue with his fans.
Which is why, in the same way, you should write about writing on your blog. It gives your clients a look into your process, an understanding of you as a writer and not just whatever topic you may be talking about. Plus, it never hurts to have more articles in your blog portfolio at the end of the day. This can also be applied whatever your freelancing vocation: design, web development, etc.
4) Market the Blog
Marketing is a key strategy for any business model. But, it can be an especially important lifeline for those who are only a small business or solopreneur (or whatever you like to call yourself). Often, every client counts as a smaller business and so a comprehensive marketing plan is more important than almost anything else.
With that in mind, here are a few key marketing techniques you need to employ as a freelancer:
1. Brand Yourself – you are not selling the services of some faceless corporation. Much of time, when a client buys your services they are buying you as a person much more than what you have to offer. Make sure everything you put into the world to build trust– whether on your social media or your blog – has your brand voice and attitude attached.
2. Establish Authority – guest blog on other people’s sites, try and get yourself a slot on an influencer’s podcast or try to stand out in the social media crowd. You want to be seen as an expert writer/designer/whatever, so you have to start putting yourself out there as one!
3. Social Media – clients, influencers and valuable connections all use social media on a daily basis. Growing your profile on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or whatever platform seems appropriate for your industry can put you in front of these people on a daily basis. As such, your social media presence alone could start helping to generate better traffic to your site and even produce a few more clients as well.
4. Social Proof – reviews, recommendations and the like are great ways to prove to potential clients that you are the real deal. So, even if you have never had a client before, reach out to your network of past employers, coworkers and anyone else who can attest to the quality of your work. Ask for a token few words commendating you and put this on your social media and blog; sometimes your marketing needs a few words from someone else to be more effective!
5. Start a Newsletter/Ezine – maybe people want to keep up with your news or posts, but fail to visit your site enough to do so. In this case, getting these people to sign up to a newsletter when they are on your site can help to bring these people back at relevant times. Eventually, this may convert them into a client. This one is a long-term strategy, but one that can be extremely effective.
Marketing, as a whole, can be a very time-consuming process. Especially as a freelancer, you want to spend your time earning money and working on client projects rather than touting your own horn. But, the fact is that during times of less work you will be glad for having done the marketing in the first place. And once you earn your first client through your blog – an important marketing strategy – you will see all of the hard work pay off!
Getting people to visit your blog or professional website is the first hurdle you need to jump in order to start getting client’s directly through this medium. However, once you find the right niche in your industry, keep making regular updates about your expertise, and market the blog, you will be able to start seeing a good return for all of your efforts.
A blog, like many things in life, is only as rewarding as the amount of effort you are willing to put into it. So, start working today and soon enough your blog will start working for you.