Targeting Your Audience the Right Way: How to Boost Your Freelance Business

By Jackie Lam, Contributor, on April 2, 2018

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When you’re a freelancer, targeting your audience can be difficult. That’s why you need to have solid methods in place that show your services and the value you bring to your clients. When you prepare strategic, well-placed marketing efforts, you can get more work and build a thriving business.

So, after you’re done defining your audience, how do you figure out where they live and how to market to them? And how do you present your talents, skills and services in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd? Check out the tips below.

Niche Down

When I went to a panel discussion on how freelancers should market their services, a marketing expert who ran her own boutique marketing advisory firm suggested we self-employed folks get as specific as possible in defining the audience we serve. Her example: A major global food company that sold instant rice defined its audience not just as people who knew what instant rice was, but as those who accepted the concept and used this product regularly.

If you’re hesitant to make this type of move because you’re afraid of getting too specific and missing out on opportunities, remember this: If you try to market to everyone, you end up marketing to no one.

For instance, I myself am a writer who specializes in personal finance. But within that, I do a lot of writing in the fintech space (think digital banks and budget apps) for a millennial audience, and I’m not afraid to take on experiential (i.e., guinea pig) approaches or a bold stance on money management.

Some of my freelance colleagues who are personal finance writers are credit card experts, while others are insurance nerds. Not only does this help them land work, but clients have a much easier time finding them. Plus, because they’re niche writers and have more specialized knowledge, they can charge more.

Figure Out Which Platforms to Build Houses On

Depending on the type of freelance business you run, you’ll want to determine which social media channels to focus on. There are a multitude of channels, but you’ll want to pick the platforms that’ll be the most effective for landing clients.

For instance, if you’re a graphic designer or work in a visual medium, marketing on social channels like Instagram or creating a portfolio on Behance would be most effective.

“Right now, I mostly focus on Instagram for marketing, since it’s the one place where I get most business from social media,” says Hector Torres, owner of A Studio Named Desire, an art and design studio in Los Angeles. “Because my audience is looking for someone to translate their ideas into a visual form, Instagram is great for that.”

What about content creation? Kayla Sloan uses her own professional website — which has a blog — and word of mouth to get new clients. She’s also landed clients by promoting her services on Facebook groups. As a writer, know the value of these platforms: I’ve personally gained clients from people who’ve found me on LinkedIn, then hopped over to my blog.

Cultivate Relationships

While all business relationships rely on trust and rapport, this rings particularly true if you offer expertise in sensitive subjects, like financial advice or legal counsel. Tristan D. Blaine, an independent attorney who works with freelancers and small businesses, uses social media marketing to create an online presence, but most of his business comes from meeting people at networking events or social gatherings. He also lands clients from giving talks to educate people on legal matters.

“I’ve found that social media outreach serves mainly to reinforce my brand among those who have already met me,” says Blaine. “In hiring an attorney, people generally need to feel they can trust him or her to help with their legal needs. I’ve found the best way to establish this trust is to have a face-to-face conversation in an informal setting.”

Work on a Passion Project

Showcasing your expertise and services through a passion project can help you build your personal brand. This might be an indirect means of marketing, but it can help propel your business in the direction you want it to go in. Take Chad Eschman, for instance. He’s the owner of The Trap Street Collective, which helps businesses develop their brand identity through events and storytelling. They created Rogue Bottle, a podcast on outliers and rulebreakers in the world of booze. Eschman decided to create the podcast partly because there was a (surprising) lack of booze-themed podcasts.

The podcast is a labor of love, but the connections Eschman has forged so far — with bar and restaurant owners as well as beer, wine and spirits brands — could potentially sprout into professional relationships and paid opportunities. “If you recognize a need, and you’re passionate about it, it could lead to work, sponsorships and being invited to special events,” says Eschman.

By targeting your audience and investing your efforts in platforms they’re most engaged in, you’ll be able to market effectively and land more clients. Do you have the right marketing channels in place?

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