In the freelancing world, it’s not uncommon to feel lost in the shuffle.
After all, 36% of the American workforce freelanced in 2018, and that number is only getting bigger.
Whether you’re a writer, a designer, a developer, or a consultant, it’s important to realize what makes you unique as a freelancer and highlight that for potential clients to see. In my experience, clients want to know that you can do the work, but they also want to work with you because you’re you.
So how can you harness your individuality and make it work for your freelance business?
In this article, I’ll walk you through some ways you can stand out from the mass of freelancers and find your ideal clients.
Let’s jump in.
1. Create a portfolio that attracts the clients you want
Picture your ideal client for a moment. Are they in a particular industry? Do they serve a specific group of people?
Now, imagine they’re scrolling through your portfolio. What type of work would they want (or need) to see to consider working with you?
It’s important to demonstrate through your portfolio that you not only have experience working with similar clients or on projects this type of client would be interested in, but that you’re proficient in the work as well.
If you don’t have direct experience working in the industry of your dream clients, no need to worry. Create your own portfolio pieces instead. Give yourself a mock project and treat it as you would a project for a paying client. Bonus points if you include a short write up that explains the “client” challenge, your approach, and your process.
Clients want to see that you are knowledgeable and skilled in your craft, not necessarily that you have an impressive past client list.
Next, once you have your portfolio pieces, you must figure out how to display your work in a way that’s engaging, yet easy for clients to understand. Depending on your craft and industry, portfolio site builders are worth looking into as opposed to a traditional website.
Here are a few of the most popular portfolio site builders:
Again, depending on the type of work you do, it might make the most sense to showcase your work through a portfolio builder instead of a traditional website. For example, if you’re a writer, linking to your published works on your website is perfect, but for designers or creatives, a dedicated portfolio site may be the best route to take.
The great thing about portfolios is that it’s entirely up to you to decide how you want to convey your work. Experiment with a few sites and see what works best for you (and what gets you the most business).
2. Dedicate time to creating lead magnet content
I’ll be the first one to tell you: Creating content for yourself is tough, not because it’s boring, but because it can be challenging to find the time. Think about it. You’re slammed with client work, meetings, and administrative tasks like invoicing and accounting.
Who has the time to work on content for their business?
The people who consistently bring in new work each month, that’s who.
As a freelancer, you’re completely responsible for finding new leads. But, as I said, it’s time-consuming to engage with potential new business. While this is a reality all freelancers must accept, you can certainly make it easier on yourself.
That’s right—I’m talking about lead magnet content. Instead of searching for new business each month, you can pour yourself into creating excellent content that your clients find valuable, which can eventually translate into them working with you.
For instance, let’s say you’re a content writer in the healthcare industry looking to fill a few project openings you have for the rest of the year. You could create a newsletter for professionals in the healthcare industry that includes trends, news, and your opinions on how content is changing in that space. Then, somewhere within the newsletter, you can add a section where potential clients could learn more about your services or book a call with you to discuss how you could work together.
It’s a great way to demonstrate your expertise in that industry while letting potential clients know that you are available to take on work.
3. Engage with other freelancers on social media
One of the most valuable components of any freelancer’s success is the connections they make with others who are in the same boat.
Freelancing can be lonely, but building relationships with those who understand the nuances of this lifestyle can go a long way—not just socially but for your business as well. In my experience, the freelancing community has been nothing but generous and helpful. It’s a community that wants to help its own.
Dedicate time each day or week to building genuine relationships with fellow freelancers. In other words, make some Internet Friends! You never know who might pass you a huge project lead, or more importantly, who you might be able to help in return.
4. Go above and beyond for your clients
The client signs the contract. You deliver the deliverables. You send the invoice. The client pays you. Sounds a bit, transaction-y, right?
You could operate like that, and you’d probably be just fine. But the freelancers who are seen as partners or experts are those who go the extra mile. I’m not talking about creating tons of extras that far surpass the set-in-stone scope of work. I’m talking about bringing additional value to the table.
This could be as simple as turning in a project a few days early—without sacrificing quality, of course. Or it could mean sending your client an Amazon gift card after they announce they’re going on paternity leave for a few weeks. It’s not rocket science, and it goes a long way with clients.
People want to work with other people, don’t forget that.
5. Have turnkey processes for on-boarding, sending deliverables, and wrapping up projects
Nothing says, “I have it together,” like processes. They not only impress clients to no end, but they also make things much easier for you.
If you’re a web designer and know you need specific materials to start a project, make it part of your process to send the client an email with everything they need to send to you. That way, you’re not chasing down assets, and your client can let you do your thing.
The same thing goes for writers and creative briefs. Make it clear from the get-go that you cannot do your job to the best of your ability unless you have the materials you need to get started.
Take a look at the current state of your project management processes and see what needs to change. Or if you know you need to create a better project management system, now is a great time to start.
This may require a little trial and error at first as you work out the kinks with your system. You’ll build something that not only works for you but makes your clients’ lives easier too in no time.
6. Be your authentic self
It’s simple: People like to work with people they like. As freelancers, we’re in a unique position to quite literally pick and choose who we want to work with, but the same is true on the client-side.
Let your personality shine through every part of your brand, including your website, your social media channels, and how you engage with clients. Of course, you want to keep things professional, but don’t be afraid to give your personality some breathing room.
Not to mention, the best way you can stand out as a freelancer is just by being yourself.
Freelancing is exactly what you make it
Freelancing is a rollercoaster of a career path. There are the ups and the downs, and maybe times when you want to get off the ride.
But you have the power and the ability to change any aspect of your business at any time. That includes doing things and creating things that help you stand out from the crowd.
Ready to work with high-quality clients? Apply to MarketerHire as a freelancer.