One of the hardest things about starting a freelance marketing career is earning clients. No business survives without income, and the sooner you can land paying clients the more momentum you'll build.
But where do you start looking for clients and how can you convince them you're worth what you're charging?
Take it from a fellow freelancer who had to figure out this very conundrum.
How to Attract Clients as a Freelance Marketer
Think like a client for a moment: If you were in need of marketing services, how could a freelancer earn your business?
Would you want to see samples of their previous work? Would you contact former clients to see the marketer's reputation? Could online reviews or a fancy website sway your opinion? Does experience in your specific niche matter to you?
There's no single right answer, but all of the above could affect a client's willingness to work with you.
Let's take it step by step so you can tailor your own client acquisition plan:
Step One: Choose Your Niche Markets
Choosing a specific industry to target might seem like you're limiting yourself, but rest assured you can be much more profitable when you narrow your focus.
The reasons for this are multi-fold:
First, you're able to donate all your marketing prowess on a specific group of businesses and their customers. This means whatever content you create and strategies you apply, you'll be able to create redundancy in your business that can save you tons of time as your business grows while making you more profitable.
It's also much easier to find prospects when you're only searching a particular industry. The business world is quite broad and can overwhelm if you don't have a plan.
Some clients might prefer a marketer who has experience in a particular niche or industry. When you can prove you understand their needs, pain points, and customer base, you gain an automatic competitive edge that will be hard for a client to resist.
Step Two: Build Your Portfolio
Having examples to show prospective clients can go a long way in earning their attention and proving your abilities.
But new freelancers often find themselves in an endless cycle: You need clients to build a portfolio, but clients want to see your portfolio before they hire you.
It's tough going, but it's not impossible.
Start by reaching out to any of your friends who own businesses. Ask them if you could give them a short marketing consultation for free, no strings attached. This will give you an opportunity to learn more about their business and see how you can apply your marketing knowledge to help them grow.
If they're willing, you might offer to do a little marketing for them in exchange for a Google review or recommendation. Bartering can be a great way to benefit both of you.
Another way to build your portfolio is by marketing yourself. Because let's face it, if you can't market yourself well, no business will hire you.
Whatever services you plan to offer your clients, do them for yourself first to have something to put in your portfolio. Rest assured, clients WILL look at how you're marketing yourself to get a feel for your professionalism.
Step 3: Source Your Targets
Freelance marketers have two options when it comes to clients: find them online or meet them in person.
Finding Marketing Clients Online
If you're shy about meeting new people in person or want to cast a broader net than your local market, sourcing clients online is a viable option.
You can hit up freelance platforms like Fiverr or Guru to find businesses actively looking for freelance marketers. Of course, this also means competing against thousands of other freelancers, so it could take a while before you land your first client this way.
Another option is to generate interest through a digital marketing campaign like AdWords or social media.
Finally, make sure you're networking with other freelancers who might be able to point you to potential clients.
Meeting Marketing Prospects in Person
If you're targeting your local market, start by making a hot list of the businesses you want to target. Then, start visiting. Keep your first visit short and simple like an introduction. You don't want to pitch your services right then, but do get the name of the business owner or manager and leave your card.
Get their card, too, and send a follow up email that day to reinforce your visit. Now that you have an easy way to get in contact with them, you can start nurturing that lead and see where it goes. Repeat process.
Step Four: Tailor Your Services
It's not enough to figure out what marketing services you plan to offer, and then pitch those services to prospective clients. Tailoring your services to their unique needs will give you a better chance of landing the deal.
No two clients are completely alike, so you need to learn as much as you can about their business and understand how you can market them effectively.
To cinch a deal, you must be prepared to make suggestions and explain your thinking. Having factual data (eg audience behaviors, statistics, keyword research, etc) lets them know you've put thought into your ideas. It also shows you're not just chasing any business, but truly care about their business. The more personalized you can make your pitch, the better chance you have of landing the client.
Don't Wait for Clients to Come to You
In an ideal world, you'd create your website and social media profiles, upload some awesome content, and clients would be lining up for your services. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work like that for freelance marketers.
You'll need to actively pursue clients, at least for a while, before referrals and organic traffic allow you to cut down on your outreach.
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