3 ways to make yourself more marketable as a freelancer
June 23, 2011
As a freelancer, you want to ensure that you build your work schedule to sustain the possible ebb and flow of projects (and er, revenue). If work is showing any signs of slowing or you want to take your projects in new directions, then it may be a good time to ramp up your marketing. When you’re your own boss, you also need to be your own PR agent, so we’ve rounded up a few time-tested tips on showcasing your edge.
Craft a Specialty
One of the most worthwhile things you can do as a freelancer is develop a particular specialty. In this job market, having a clearly defined niche can hedge you against uncertain times if you are able offer something that not everyone can do. For graphic designers and writers in particular, maintaining a niche knowledge can give you a reputation for being cutting edge plus you’ll be able to sink your teeth into a project quickly and spend less time familiarizing yourself with new tools or topics.
You may be versatile in a number of areas, but having one, two, or even three defined areas of focus can make you stand out in a crowd of applicants. Moreover, you’ll find it easier to identify and connect with your target clientele audience. You also might want to try taking courses to get certified in a certain technical area – you never know when an obscure or complex design tool might become your greatest differentiators.
If you already have a specialty within your field, don’t forget to clearly list it on both your online and print resume, portfolio and even on your social media profiles.
Keep Your Portfolio Updated
If you can’t recall when you last updated your portfolio, then you should probably consider giving it an overhaul. There’s a general consensus that maintaining a clean, updated portfolio can help you position yourself as an expert more effectively than letting it go stale. Ensure that your portfolio represents your best work and is relevant to your ideal client. And whether it’s design or writing-based, general rules still apply: make sure your pieces are diversified, that your grammar and spelling is impeccable and that your titles are succinct and punchy. Keep it current with up-to-date professional information about you (new certifications, etc.) to give clients a chance to notice that you are regularly updating your skills and committed to your craft.
In some ways, the freelance market is all about who you know–and being buried in a project behind a desk can limit the amount of new contacts you are making. CreativeFreelancerBlog reminds us that networking is at its core just genuine conversation. If you haven’t consciously made time for networking events, consider that the benefits of ramping up your presence at conferences can be significant, so get out there! Get business cards printed and attend all the events in and around your area related to your field and make sure you hand those cards out confidently to the people you meet. Join online communities dedicated to your work and contribute regularly. In fact, join your local business association, too. Ask questions on LinkedIn (who knew it’s one of the best ways to gain new clients?). Subscribe to magazines and keep yourself updated on developments in your field. You can also try occasionally teaming up with partners on projects who’ll probably introduce you to new contacts, at the very least. Why not try working out of a coworking space?