Many freelancers never get their business ideas off the ground for one reason: Marketing.
Marketing comes with all kinds of connotations, misconceptions and strong feelings. Thinking about it can feel lazy or fake. Maybe it’s confusing and really complicated. But after all, many freelancers put off marketing because they fear rejection.
The only way to overcome your fear of rejection is to put yourself out there over and over again, until you get to the point where you’re okay with someone saying no to your proposal. But if you’re not ready to push through the fear just yet, you’re in luck: With the help of the Internet, there are plenty of options to help you get more clients when you fear rejection. And they all come down to one magic word: introverted
What is inbound marketing?
Taken very broadly, there are two types of marketing you can do: outbound and inbound. Outbound marketing is when you actively try to get someone to hire you or buy something from you. It’s sending out pitches and letters of inquiry to try to land new gigs. It’s setting up a booth at a show or coordinating a live event It’s press releases, cold calls, email marketing and even Facebook ads.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is something that “puts you out there” in a sense, but then your potential clients and customers come to you instead of going out and asking them to come to you. Inbound marketing, once you get the engine revving, is a great way to market your freelance business, especially if you’re not ready to hear someone turn you down. Let’s talk about some of the best ways you can start making inbound marketing work for you!
1. Focus on SEO
Search engine optimization is a fairly complex operation with constantly shifting goalposts. It’s never a one-time thing. But there is a lot of SEO that you can do without being an expert and without a degree in programming. By doing some basic keyword research (including long-tail keywords), creating content on your site for those keywords, and optimizing all the bits and pieces of your blog, you can strengthen your SEO to organically draw search traffic.
If you don’t want to put yourself out there with a “hard ask,” that’s great, because you’re essentially making your website easier for people to find what you want and want. This can be a project if you’ve got a strong website and you’re starting your SEO from scratch, but I’ve seen people start getting results within months of making a big SEO push.
2. Strengthen your social profile
Whether the right place for you is LinkedIn, Etsy, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or a niche directory… make sure your profile is rich with the right keywords for your market. Most social platforms don’t have their own search engines, and you want to be easily found in those searches. There is plenty of information available on how to optimize your profiles — take a look and then spend the hours it takes to get everything right.
3. Maximize Pinterest
It might seem like a fad right now, but I’m calling it: Pinterest is going to be a game-changer for a long time. A large number of people visit Pinterest every day and use it to browse and search for interesting content. Getting noticed on Pinterest can turn into a great boost for your business. If you want to focus on inbound marketing, you need to create a Pinterest strategy and execute, execute, execute.
4. Connect with peers
One of the best things you can do for your business is build a solid network of colleagues — your freelancing “peers” — who offer services similar to yours. Find a watering hole or two where people who do what you do hang out (Facebook is a great way to find something).
Once you’re known in a few cool circles, you can let people know you’re looking for work I picked up several opportunities simply by mentioning my excess bandwidth to a colleague who had too much on his plate.
5. Make strategic partnerships
Apart from people who offer the same freelance services, you need to find people whose services are tangentially related to yours. So if you are a website designer, you not only need to plug in with other web designers but also copywriters, bloggers, developers, social media managers and the like. Look for opportunities to partner up and refer work to each other.
Once you’re known and trusted, you can become the go-to person in your circle… and that’s always good for business.
More thoughts on inbound marketing
This will give you a better idea why inbound marketing is great for avoiding the hard sell and facing rejection. There are some freelancers who base their entire marketing strategy on one or two of the tips I gave above. If you are interested in any of these methods, choose one and do some basic research. You realize that it is easier for them to happen than you even realize.
What are your biggest questions about inbound marketing?