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Finding Freelance Work in the Marketing Sector

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You may have previously been a permanent employee doing the same mundane work in need of a new challenge, or you may of liked the idea of being your own boss, so set down the path of freelancing...but naturally their is no joy in being your own boss should you not get any work! Our guide to finding work as a Marketing Freelancer offers advice on promoting your services and getting more clients, with most of our suggestions costing nothing. 

Read our helpful hints and tips below to finding those clients and building up that client database:

Word of mouth

Everyone will tell you that this is one of the best ways to ‘market’ yourself, and it’s true. Word of mouth is very powerful, however as you're just starting up, chances are you won’t know that many people. However, it is still worth making sure you tell everyone you know about what you are doing. 

Work for free - initially 

It sounds awful we know, but to get your first job on board there is always the option of offering a free or heavily discounted service to start with so they can see how good you are, in return for allowing you to mention them as a client and to use them to write a case study about, when pitching for other new business. Prospective clients will always feel more comfortable about using you if you they do not appear to be your first one. The best option is to target small companies who would not be able to afford your services otherwise, or charities and societies in your local area. They will benefit from it and so will you – so it’s kind of win-win for everyone. 

Use your suppliers 

Another great way to generate business is through your suppliers. That might sound odd but it isn’t. Build up your network of suppliers from existing contacts and new research, they will all be very happy to talk to you as you are, in effect, a route to market for them. If you develop a good working relationship you will become a virtual part of their sales team, bringing in new business with no cost of sale for them. The flip-side of this is that they will also uncover business opportunities for you.

Take design agencies for example. Clients generally do not understand that design agencies are not full-blown marketing agencies, and tend to expect a much wider level of skills than the agency actually has. So, there is an opportunity there to form an alliance with a design agency whereby they will involve you – either visibly or invisibly – in any wider marketing campaign which they come across. All suppliers who offer one specialist skill are targets for this type of networking.

Marketing agencies 

Most agencies will at some point in time use freelancers. Either when they are especially busy, or to cover holidays, illness and so on. What you need to do is to make as many agencies as possible aware of your existence, so that they will add you to their list of approved suppliers – and will think of you and call you when they need extra resource.

The simplest and cheapest approach is via email – and this is especially easy with agencies as often they will publish the contact details of the person you need to speak to on their website. Then all you have to do is send an email (or even pick up the phone if you’re feeling brave) and ask if they are looking for freelancers - then give them your website details so they can see those samples of work.

Company marketing departments

This is of course another key customer audience as many marketing departments use freelancers for extra capacity, but they are often far harder to approach as they are bombarded with information from all sorts of freelancers all the time. This makes it very hard to ‘stand out from the crowd’ – but you should at least give it a try. As you are unlikely to get a relevant email address, in this instance you might have to resort to the post, either with a mailing piece to ‘the marketing department’ or to a specific contact name if you can get one by calling reception, or by buying a database.

Traditional marketing

On top of all these methods there is of course the option to market your services to cold prospects in the same way that you would run a new business generation campaign for any of your clients. Use exactly the same methods as you would advise for them. Direct marketing to a well-researched target customer profile (followed up with a call if you dare!), supporting advertising (if you can afford it), PR and so on. 

Make it industry-specific where possible and ensure that you focus on the skill-sets and experience which are most relevant to each audience. If you can write, or know a good ghost-writer, create articles on relevant marketing issues and see if these publications will print them in return for a credit and a link to your website. These forms of ‘one way’ links are an excellent SEO tool as well.

Market to other freelancers

If you read the other articles on this site you will see that we always recommend that new freelancers get a website up and running as soon as possible. Which is of course where you come in! If you can develop a simple site for new freelancers, for a sensible price, then there will be a huge market open to you. You could even develop a set of re-useable ‘templates’ to keep costs down, which you can then personalise for each client. Bear in mind also that these freelancer's may have other skills which you need (copywriting for example) giving you the opportunity to ‘trade’ services, which will benefit you both, rather than ask for hard cash.

The Internet

In the past the Yellow Pages used to be the key directory to search for all sources of business information. Now-a-day’s the World Wide Web is our address book and our source of knowledge. Take advantage of the fact that people can now search for anything with just a click of their mouse, look into…

Creating your own website

This is a really obvious one of course – as before you start marketing your services, you must have a website to direct people to, however even the most technically minded can forget some of the most essential information, that makes your site memorable:

  • Dedicated 'About You' section - Talk about yourself, why you got into the marketing sector and your experience. This will help people to understand the ‘personality’ of you and your business. 
  • Divide your portfolio into sections based on types of projects - For example a short overview of an ad campaign, or an email marketing campaign, or a rebrand project and so on. Depending on the complexity of your site, it would also be a good idea for people to be able to search for example projects by industry sector as well as by project type, so if you can include that option as well, it would be useful – although not essential. Remember also to include links to any work which appears externally on other website's. Make sure these links open in a separate window so that the visitor is not taken away from your site altogether.
  • Make it as user friendly as possible - We would recommend showing a ‘thumbnail’ image on the main page, which you can click on to open the entire sample as a PDF.

For more information on setting up a website please visit our page on Creating a Website.

Forums and discussion groups 

Despite the number of freelancer's looking for work, it is often difficult for clients to find suitably qualified and experienced web developers. To address this market, there are now a few well regarded forums and website's that allow freelance designers to post a professional profile listing their skills, credentials and experience. We can't guarantee you'll find all of your work this way, but it can only help.

Discussion groups are also a free way to showcase your knowledge in your expert area. Should a debate be going on to do with a particular topic, your input may spark the interest of others reading this discussion should you have a valid point, even getting various people to click on your website. 

Social Networking

Once you have a website you can start to drive traffic to it, and one way to do this is to make people aware of your services via Social Networking. Which is not as bizarre as it seems. For more information on generating business via Social Networking read the following guides:

Some workers who are self employed may feel that LinkedIn (being well known as a 'business' network site) the most beneficial of all of the Social networks. However with the option for visitors to ‘follow you’ via Facebook and Twitter  - or read and comment on your blog should you have one - gives ‘followers’ regular updates on what’s happening with you and your business. It is also a good forum to include special offers online for your services.

Good luck, and remember to keep trying new things even when you have lots of work on. You always need to be thinking ahead! And don’t feel downhearted should you get turned down for a project. Just keep building up your portfolio and  making people aware of your existence.

If you would like any advice on tax, setting yourself up in a business or working freelance please don't hesitate to give us a call us on 0500 234111 / 01442 275767.

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