In our recent post on the importance of goal setting for freelancers and independent consultants, we focused on the truth that when you're the boss, you must define and design your business for success; no one is going to be looking over your shoulder to make sure the work gets done.
When you set and follow achievable goals, and have a coach or mentor in your corner, you're well positioned for start-up success. The next crucial factor is marketing. As your own boss, you're CEO, CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and CSO (Chief Sales Officer).
Managing marketing on a consistent basis can be tricky, because once you become busy, you have less time — and perhaps less impetus — to market your services. Yet if you neglect marketing during active periods, lean times are sure to follow. As a freelancer or independent consultant, you need to find the proper balance between marketing your services and serving your current clients.
The Secret Sauce for Marketing Success
Start by creating a marketing plan with goals and timelines. Again, refer to this goal-setting template for how to do so. Make the Japanese concept of kaizen — slow, incessant improvement — your watchword.
Digital growth consultant Mike Macguire suggests that building your small business requires three key tools: strategy, process, and execution. Strategy entails defining your niche, knowing your USP (unique selling proposition as an independent consultant/freelancer),and how this aligns with your customer persona and values. We've covered a lot of the ground for Process in our goal setting and coaching posts.
Execution is the marketing piece.
Here are six tactics to market your business in a way that keeps your name and your business in front of prospective clients with timely, relevant information:
- Start a blog. Did you know "blog" is a portmanteau of "web" and "log"? Blogs began as digital diaries: what you ate for lunch, cute pics of your pets, etc. — much like what Facebook users upload, still. The blog, however, has evolved into a useful vehicle for conveying germane product and service information, as well as industry trends and business wisdom. Paired with social media, your blog provides an easy way to stay in front of your customers on a regular basis. Weekly blogging is ideal.
- Get social. LinkedIn is the de facto business platform for professionals and business influencers. Depending on the nature of your freelance or independent consulting business, you may want to join Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or another social site. The important point is to become and remain both active and interactive on an ongoing basis — so only join the networks you have time to pursue.
- Launch a podcast. If you prefer speaking to writing, a podcast can serve as well as a blog. A podcast is a digital audio file available for download or online listening, typically offered as a series that subscribers receive automatically. Here's a brief tutorial to help your startup business plan, record, edit, publish and promote a podcast.
- Create a webinar. If the idea of doing a recurring podcast seems daunting, consider creating a webinar on a hot topic in your industry. Offer it at no cost in exchange for each registrant's name and email address. Record the webinar on a reliable platform such as Webinarjam or Zoom, and use the webinar content for additional blog posts, social media posts, client pitches, or other marketing endeavors down the road.
- Send out an e-newsletter. There are a number of newsletter mailing services that allow you to effortlessly design, send, and track analytics on a monthly newsletter. Some of the most popular email newsletter software services are Mailchimp, Mailerlite, and Constant Contact. Or you could consider a platform like Substack. Select one according to what aspects of this service are most important to you.
- Offer a sample session. One tried-and-true marketing method is a complimentary session. Whether you work primarily in person, by phone, video, or email, give your prospective clients a taste of your work. You might offer a special discount for anyone who signs on as a client during the sample session.