Freelance self-promotion can be a bit of a whirly gig. Especially if you are the kind of freelancer that fancies themselves as creative first, business person second. Marketing can feel like an entirely different kettle of fish.

Yet marketing yourself and dabbling in freelance self-promotion gives you the ability to grow your business. It helps you send out the bat signals to the kind of clients you want to have.

Mastering (or even mucking about in) freelance self-promotion gives you greater opportunity to fortify your self-employment adventure against outside influences

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Photo by Renee Fisher via Unsplash

The place where it all falls down is when freelancers think they know what is right for every freelancer in the self-promotion stakes. That’s bollocks. Big, bouncy bollocks.

I am slightly tired of the following no win freelance self-promotion and marketing debates that revolve around opinions such as:

  • You have to go to every meeting and watch new clients drink every drop of every latte (or you don’t)
  • You have to have all the email and all the phone lines and all the social channels open all the time (or you don’t)
  • You have to join the local business groups and go out networking every chance you get (or you don’t)
  • You have to spend big on freelance marketing to make a big splash (or you don’t)
  • You have to put all your eggs in the SEO basket (or you don’t)

…it goes on and on like a merry-go-round.

How to generate leads is something a lot of people have opinions on. Not all those opinions are useful. Opinions are like…onions but with a P. I digress…

What we do know for certain is that freelance self-promotion and the art of marketing when self-employed do make a difference to your workflow, client list and how much work you get.

The whole “who has it all figured out in the freelance marketing stakes” debate is the bit where it gets a little hazy.

Working out how to market your freelance business is a deeply personal thing. Finding out the edges of what you are comfortable with when it comes to self promotion takes time.

Only you know when you feel OK with telling your business story, sharing your talents and making a case for why you solve the client’s problem.

You are the product you sell.

I don’t mean the current trend of putting yourself at the centre of your brand. You don’t have to go in for that sha-la-la-la if it doesn’t interest you. Marketing yourself as a lifestyle is difficult, exhausting work. Besides…

You shouldn’t set out to make yourself the centre of your business’ attention. That honour should go to your customer.

Ooooh. Burn. Sort of.

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Is this mic on?

Think about the kind of freelancer you are and think about how you want to market yourself now and in the future.

Only when you have your freelance identity down-pat will you be able to market yourself without feeling weird about it. Only then will freelance self-promotion tactics move from social death and cultural cringe to second nature.

So that’s where we begin.

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Step 1: Make a commitment to getting the baseline right

We all have areas in our freelance business we know we should be working on, but we end up putting off. You know the deal. It’s those little things that knock at the back of your skull, gnawing at you when your energy is low.

It might be your blog or your project management. Maybe you haven’t got your social media setup properly. You may have stopped promoting your website because you aren’t that proud of it. Maybe you don’t have a website yet. Maybe you feel dis-organised.

Regardless, now you need to make a commitment to get that together.

Now for an exercise in freelance self-promotion and marketing: 

Pick something that you would like to try but keep putting off. Not sure what these wonderful marketing ideas and kick-ass self-promotional shots of genius may be?

  • Write out a TO DO list of items you need to do to fix the situation
  • Give each item a priority of Must, Should, Could or Would so you know what is vital for success and you have a working plan. Download this TEMPLATE – MoSCoW to help you
  • Set aside two hours a week to start moving towards getting it under control. Don’t make it too demanding. I use “make progress on…” whatever task it is so that no matter the amount done, I qualify.
  • Do it!

Step 2: Look for the marketing of least resistance

Some people love networking, others get nothing out of it. Blogging can be a wonderful stress relief to one freelancer. It can leave another cold. Social media may be a place you can’t get enough of. Or the whole idea could completely baffle you.

Whatever the case, you need to identify the types of marketing you’ll use to promote your business. And you’re only going to find this out through knowing what does and doesn’t work for you. Freelance self-promotion means that people can spot when you look awkward, unhappy and out of your comfort zone. That means you either have to treat it like an exercise regime and aim to get fitter and fitter over time. OR you have to stay on your marketing wheelhouse and use that big delicious brain of yours to best affect.

Journal exercise:

Grab yourself a pen and paper and…

  • Write down 5 forms of marketing you cannot bear the thought of doing and the reasons why they aren’t your type of marketing
  • Write down 10 marketing ideas that you have thought of that you would like to try but have not yet – they can be big or small
  • Now choose 3 marketing ideas to try based on-
  1.     Most interesting to you on a creative level
  2.     Lowest hanging fruit (so easiest to execute)
  3.     The assumption of what would be most effective, customer wise
  • Write out a mini TO DO list for each marketing activity using the MoSCoW template from before
  • Choose one of your marketing campaigns, set yourself a deadline- and hop to it!

Next, we’ll start a journey to your business hustle.

Until next time!

Want a little freelance self-promotion happiness between lessons? Jump into the Freelance Jungle online for some friendship, frivolity and feel good times.