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10 Tips to Find Clients as a Freelancer - Ep. 39

Updated: Mar 31



I think it's common for a lot of entrepreneurs to start their business and never talk about it again then wonder why people aren't buying, but the truth is you need to be constantly talking about your business and marketing yourself.


It’s even better if you create a marketing plan, so you have a system to get clients consistently. Sorry to break it to you but just because you built it doesn't mean people will automatically come running. You have to put in the work and have some sort of strategy in place to funnel people into your marketing funnel in order to get consistent leads.


Here are 10 tips that I have done in my business to find clients as a freelancer.


Let's dive in.



1. Do exceptional Work To Gain Word-Of-Mouth And Referrals

A lot of people rely on word of mouth the most, probably because it's the easiest since you wait for clients to come to you but you shouldn't rely on it as your only marketing strategy.


It's the slowest way you're going to get clients since you're waiting on others to contact you and theres no way to tell when the next client is coming.


Sure they will be super warm leads and they will convert the best because they're coming from businesses who trusted you and had a really great experience.

But still, you shouldn’t only rely on word of mouth and referrals if you want to have clients or sell your products on a consistent basis. 



2. Attend Networking Events - The Best Method In My Opinion


If your business to business you can show up to conferences, business meetups, active Facebook groups, even virtual workshops, just be sure to engage in the chat if you're doing anything virtual otherwise you're not going to make those connections. 

Since I’m business to business I like to attend business conferences, attend any entrepreneur meet up and teach live classes.


Trust me putting yourself out there and attending these kinds of events is going to do wonders for you.


If you're selling products, then go to craft fairs or markets. The more you put yourself out there and let people know that you exist, the more you're really going to be able to create a fan base and create those genuine connections that are going to sell for you, maybe not right then and there, but they'll remember you later on.


For example: I attend the Innovation Summit in Juneau annually and I have gotten clients from it every single year. No, they're not booking me right then and there at the conference but eventually when they need a website, logo or branding, they'll remember me and send me an email.


That’s why I like to have my business cards handy to pass out and since we've created a genuine connection, they become a warm lead.



3. Speak on Panels, Podcasts, or Guest Post on Social Media or Email

The more you get out there and speak about your expertise in your field and come in with valuable information, the more you're going to look like an expert and people will see what makes you stand out from the competition. Also seeing your personality and hearing your voice is a great way to connect with other people.


How do you Guest Post or get on someone else's Podcast or Panels?

You can ask people in your network, send out emails or attend local events.

You can befriend people on social media, but make sure it's a genuine connection. I think people can tell when someone only wants to be their friend because they think something will come out of it, but if you have that genuine connection then it will help you in the long run.


If you're feeling a little shy and you're in the beginning stages of your business, an easy way is to get in front of someone else's audience and see if they will let you guest post an email to their list.


How it works is you would create an email for the other person's email list and they would create an email for your email list. As long as you both have a way to collect emails, like a freebie for example, the reader can opt in with their email to receive the freebie, let's say its a 10 tip guide for better marketing materials this way it's a genuine invitation to get people on your email list without sharing emails which is a big no no.


If I were going to reach out to a copywriter about sharing an email. I could say something like, 'Hey, I've been following you for a while on Instagram and I really love all of your copy tips. I noticed that you know quite a bit about website copy. I'm actually a website designer and I think it would be great to be able to guest post on each others email list to not only grow our email list but to help people who have strategic web copy and want a strategically designed website to tie it all together. And you can help the people I've designed websites for that are looking to level up their web copy to something more strategic.' If that person says, yes, I'm interested. Both of you should have some sort of freebie to collect emails from the other person's list. That way you're gathering emails authentically.



4. Create a FREE Google Business Profile - Great For Local Services


Creating a free Google Business Profile is great for local services. But even if you are doing something where you don't need to be local, like brand and web design you should still create a Google Business Profile because most clients are most likely coming from your local area.


It's harder to trust someone you randomly found online and it's definitely harder to invest in them.


Taking the time to create your Google Business Profile and filling it out completely is going to do wonders because it's free traffic from Google that you can leverage.


For example, this winter my parent's snowblower was acting up. I was going to have it servced by a bigger company, but they had a long waiting list that was going to take anywhere from 10 to 14 days. So instead I googled small engine repair and I found Ward's Mechanical. We didn't have to wait very long, he brought his tools over, and fixed it right then and there. It was a fast and simple process, but if he didn't have a Google business profile up, then we wouldn't have been able to find his services and hire him.



5. Post on Social Media - Best For Brand Awareness


In a sea of content you have to have something that helps you stand out and your branding is how you're going to do that.



If you started to create your own brand and felt overwhelmed when you were choosing your fonts, colors, and brand style, then that’s going to be a great class for you.


But back to social media. You're posting schedule needs to be consistent, even if it's once a week.


I personally think that social media is best for brand awareness instead of using it as a way to gain sales. You're going to want to use it as a way to let people know that you're there and that you're an option.


Pro tip: make sure that your link in bio leads back to your website, not a link tree or something similar.

I have a hidden page on my website that I designed just for Instagram where I created my own landing page with links, just like link tree but on website.


I'm telling you this is because you can gather information from your website, but you can't gather it from something like Link Tree. The reason you want to gather this information is because if you're going to run ads in the future, then you can run warm ads to people who have already visited your website.


I definitely think that social media shouldn't be the endgame, but it should be a funnel that always leads back to your website.


Keep in mind you can also collaborate with different businesses on social media, but make sure what you guys are doing together makes sense. That way you can share to each other's audiences and get in front of more people.


For example, for the last couple of years I ran a giveaway with a photographer, Wild Iris Studios, and a videographer, Sorril Media, and my business Z Squared Studio where I provide the website design, one person provides the photos, and one person provides the videos.


When it all comes together, one lucky business gets a website that's on brand and custom to them. Instead of having people follow our Instagram profiles, we has them enter through a contact form on our website so we could gather their emails because email marketing has a better conversion rate than social media marketing.



6. Volunteer Your Time For Projects You Want To Do In The Future

If you're super super busy then maybe this one's not for you, but if you have the time then volunteer for projects.


For example I volunteered my time to create the program for Alaska Fashion Week

I really love fashion and since it was thier first show and they didn't have to pay a dime they were all in. The first year, I did their program completely for free. Then the next couple years after that, they hired me to work on their program.


If you sell products, you can give away products for free to people who will actually appreciate it. If you're a photographer you can give away a free 30 minute family session to one lucky family and give them such a fantastic experience that they come back for more in other important events in their life.


As long as you're coming from a place of genuinely wanting to help them then your connection will bring you more value in the future, whether it's with them or a referral.



7. Join Facebook Groups


I actually get quite a bit of jobs by joining our local towns Facebook groups, I have a lot of people tagging me if someone needs a website or a logo and branding.


One thing that I like to do is to be really thoughtful when someone mentions me whether that's a thank you, or I'll give a heart emoji so they can see how grateful I am, because I am truly grateful.


I also like to reply with more than just my website. I'll say something like “Hey So And So I'm a Brand And Web Designer and I like to design websites that aren't only beautiful but are really strategic. They have a strong foundation so they can convert and sell for you. Here is my website if you want to learn more about me.” Then I'll paste my website link and send them a DM as well.



8. Create Long form content


Stuff like YouTube, blogs, Pinterest, a podcast, any content that can be found with a search engine is worth your time because it's going to last way longer than an Instagram or Facebook post.


When you have a YouTube channel, a blog, or a podcast, people are able to gain value from it long after you've created the content.


It may take a while to actually see results but once you have some really valuable content it will all be worth it because you're going to get eyes on it organically for years.


You can create something in 2020 and for years it will funnel people back to your website.

One tip I have to include for creating long form content is to always have some sort of call to action. Whether that's having them go to your website or having them sign up for a freebie that is a quick win for them.


If you haven't noticed I always mention some sort of freebie like a free brand style guide or, in this episode I mentioned a 30 minute video about how to create a standout brand.


That's all an invitation to check out my business without being super salesy.


I definitely recommend doing that for all your long form content. That way your content is strategic and will continue to do you good in the long run.



9. Have a well designed strategic website that sells for you 24/7


The way you do this is to make sure that your website is functional on both desktop and mobile.


Take a look at your buttons. Are they easy to find? Take a look at your fonts. Are you using on 2 -3 fonts consistently? Do you have a clear color palette? Are you using high quality photos?


Is the menu easy to find? Is it at the top of your website page? Or are you trying to be really fancy and you're using a hamburger menu? Which is fine for a mobile phone, but as soon as use a hamburger menu a desktop site, people aren't expecting that. They're expecting the navigational menu to be at the top.


Make sure that people are finding exactly what they're looking for, whether that's your packages, your pricing, what kind of services you have, because a well designed strategic website will sell for you 24/7.


Your website is the only place on the internet that you own 100 percent and it's the only place where people are able to see your offers, learn about your values, and learn about how you can help them all in one place. That’s why a well designed strategic website is definitely going to be a great investment for your business.



10. Run Ads


This is the fastest way to get in front of a lot of people.


I've been dabbling in Facebook ads, and the ads I like to run are to a freebie to collect emails, that way I'm not selling through the ad, but I'm selling through email marketing once they enter thier email address.


I also rub another ad where I am directly selling my premade branding templates and that one definitely doesn't do as well as a freebie because I'm asking a cold audience to buy a product.


One thing to remember about ads is that there are two different ways to run it, you can run cold ads which is what I'm doing, and they're running in front of an audience that has never seen you before.


Which is why it's really effective to have ads connected to a freebie and then collect their emails, then sell to them with email marketing. That way your audience is warmed up when its time to sell and they're getting value through either my podcast or whatever freebie they want to get.


But if you have a large enough audience, you can also run warm ads. If you go to sell your digital course, for example, those warm ads are going to convert better. You're going to get more course sales selling to a warm audience then a cold audience, especially if you have a really high price point.


I've never tried radio ads, but I would say that radio is a really great place to run ads for local services. There's more trust when you're listening to ads from your local radio rather than seeing a Facebook ad.


One more thing about ads is that you have to play and tinker around with them. You have to have the right creative, the right images, the right video, the right copy, and the right audience.


Maybe you're changing who you're targeting to see if people who have an interest in Canva are more interested in your ads or if people who listen to business podcasts are responding more to your ads.


Running ads isn’t something where you put something out there once and then you don't see results that you want and give up. It’s a really long process of tinkering with it and always coming back. The hardest part of ads is the waiting game.


Give it a week or two before you change anything and make sure to only change one thing at a time, whether that's the header, the button, copy, or creative. That way you know what is working and what's not.


You have to be able to read the analytics as well so you use the data to see what you need to change.


There's some great stuff on YouTube that you can look up about running ads.

As always here are the tips again.


1. Do exceptional work to gain word of mouth and referrals.

2. Attend networking events, the best method in my opinion.

3. Speak on panels, podcasts, or guest posts on social media or emails.

4. Create a Google business profile. This is great for local services.

5. Post on social media. This is best for brand awareness.

6. Volunteer time for projects that you want to do more of in the future.

7. Join Facebook groups.

8. Create long form content.

9. Have a well designed, strategic website that sells for you 24x7.

10. Run ads.


You don't have to do all of these strategies, especially in the beginning, but choose a couple.


Make sure you're not relying solely on word of mouth because that kind of marketing will come naturally. As long as you're doing good work, people will always refer you.

Focus on other strategies that will move the needle.


Also don’t only use social media marketing because that's not going to get you far. Unless you're one of those really lucky people that has 10,000+ followers, but let's face it, most of us are not.


Networking is the best because it will open the most doors for you and it may not seem like it right away, but when you create those genuine connections, people are going to come back to you when they need something.


Marketing is a long game, so you need to be doing it consistently in order to be successful.


Have a great day and happy designing. Bye!


 

Brand Need a facelift? Check Out These Resources


Z Squared Studio is a Brand and Web Design Studio based in Juneau, Alaska. Check out www.zsquaredstudio.com for custom brand design, Alaska logo design, or web design.


Or sign up for our DIY Brand yourself Mini-Course if you're ready for a stand out, scroll stopping brand without hiring a designer.



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