Stuck in a freelance rut? Use these ideas to grow your business and attract the clients you actually want.
Tired of pitching stories and cold-calling businesses? Out of ideas for optimizing your website design? If you’re ready to take your business to the next level but not sure where to begin, try these activities to refresh your brand and connect with potential clients you’ll love:
1. Run a blog tour
This is not just the realm of authors and probloggers! Even if you don’t keep a blog (but especially if you do), connecting with others in your niche is one of the best ways to get attention.
Get to know top bloggers in your industry, and reach out to them with an idea for a post that will offer value and introduce you as an expert to their audience. Rather than doing this haphazardly, schedule several guest posts within a short period of time to multiply the impact.
2. Create an intro video
If you’re doing business mostly online, clients can have a hard time feeling connected to you. Adding an intro video to your site is a great way to let your personality shine!
Be honest—as perky, goofy or stoic as you are in real life—to help clients know who they’re working with and ensure you’re connecting with people who want to work with you. Keep it short, and point to your website or portfolio at the end for more information.
3. Start an email newsletter
Email subscribers will be happy to keep up with your business news and take advantage of sales and special offers when you gain their trust by first providing value through a newsletter. Share how-to articles to display your expertise, and they’ll think of you first when they’re ready to hire.
Adding current clients to your email list can help boost your referrals as well. Your newsletter may open their eyes to your services they don’t need—but they know someone who does.
4. Publish a piece in the local paper
Pitch articles or submit op-eds to local papers and newsletters, sharing tips or news about your industry. These will garner visibility with business owners who prefer to seek talent in familiar places, rather than through job boards or Craigslist.
If you offer novel services you know a lot of business owners in your area aren’t utilizing yet, try a piece that explains how these services can help them. If you sway them, you’ll be their go-to contractor!
5. Enter a contest
Aside from cool prizes and visibility, contests can give you an awesome branding boost, whether you place or not, because they ask you to clarify exactly how your business is the best at what you do.
They can push you outside of your comfort zone if the entry method is a media you haven’t explored or mastered yet. You’ll be forced to learn or hone skills that will help your business down the road.
6. Narrow your audience to one
Focus on one specific person to define your audience. Are you working with someone now, or can you think of someone, who is your ideal client?
Keep that person in mind (tack her picture over your desk if you have to!), and use her characteristics to create a business plan that meets her needs and a marketing strategy that commands her attention.
7. Create (digital) products to give away
Digital freebies are great in combination with your email newsletter—as incentives to sign up or as stand-alone free products on your website.
An infoproduct like an ebook, or even a short pamphlet to give away at live events, can help you display your expertise. Give your audience a takeaway to help them remember you when they need your services.
8. Start a podcast or video series
Do you already have a blog or website? Expand your appeal and reach a wider audience by dabbling in other media. Help people who don’t read your blog discover you through channels like iTunes and YouTube.
You don’t need a ton of technical know-how to get started. Make the content valuable and interesting enough, and you don’t need to go hog wild with effects to get attention.
9. Start a mastermind group
A mastermind group is a few like-minded entrepreneurs or freelancers who refuse to let you fail. Meet periodically with the group to swap ideas and offer support and resources where they’re needed.
They’re also your accountability partners. If you share dreams, goals and plans, those pending check-ins are a great incentive to follow through!
10. Go on tour (with a book, speaking or workshops)
Instead of just another workshop or speaking engagement that provides a paycheck, design a tour to gain more attention. Give it a theme and create some hoopla around it!
Have a kickoff party, produce special schwag to give away, create a Twitter hashtag and write about it on your blog to help potential clients or future gigs find you online.
11. Get a good head shot
This is such a simple step that many freelancers neglect! Even if you don’t have a website (agh! get a website!), clients will search and find you online.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Just make sure the photo you use on your social media profiles, LinkedIn and accompanying your portfolio is framed well (no cropping out group pics!), free of background clutter and shows your friendly, “work-with-me” face.
Have you tried any of these or other creative ways to grow your freelancing or consulting biz? What would you recommend?
Dana Sitar is a freelance blogger, author and entrepreneur. For even more ways to boost your creative career, grab her free ebook, A Writer’s Bucket List: 99 things to do for inspiration, education, and experience before your writing kicks the bucket.