The life of an online freelancer isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Sure, you have access to all the software you need to grow in your industry, build an online presence, and attract truckloads of clients online, but without the commitment to learn the strategies to use these tools effectively, cutting through the noise and marketing your freelancing brand will be extremely difficult.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should load up on all the marketing guides you can get as fast as possible. Focus on one step at a time and make sure your strategy works before you move on to the next.
In this post, we’ll help you get started with email marketing as your primary marketing vehicle, which is a fast and cost-effective way to reach prospective clients.
Let’s jump into it.
1. Choose an Email Marketing Platform
As a new freelancer, relying on traditional email clients to communicate with prospects will probably help you get short-term results.
This is especially true if you rely on a freelancing marketplace to connect with leads and only use email to share project details.
However, if you want to be recognized as an authoritative brand in your niche, you need to broaden your horizons. Build your presence through your own website and let clients discover you there.
(If you don’t have a website yet, check out this post for a guide on how to choose the right website builder.)
An email marketing tool comes into play by enabling you to convert visitors into leads.
Unlike regular email services like Gmail or Outlook, platforms like MailChimp, Aweber, and GetResponse will give you the tools you need to collect subscriber information, manage your mailing lists, and broadcast emails that promote your services.
MailChimp, for example, is a free platform that not only helps you craft emails — it also lets you build landing pages where visitors can fill in their information and subscribe to your mailing list.
The tool itself offers a lot of templates for both emails and landing pages, so it’s definitely possible to kickstart your email marketing campaign within hours.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to use MailChimp is the free plan, which lets you take advantage of most of the platform’s features without spending a dime. The only catch is that you’re limited to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month, which should be more than enough for solo freelancers who are still getting on their feet.
2. Conduct Outreach
As your subscriber base grows, you’ll eventually be able to handpick a couple of prospective clients from the bunch.
That’s when you should take the initiative to reach out and forge a more personal connection. This warrants a small-scale outreach campaign that’s tailored to your ideal clients.
Although you don’t have to rely on mass-produced, template-based emails for this kind of outreach, there are a few ground rules you should keep in mind:
- Be straightforward
Don’t write entire paragraphs just to introduce yourself — deliver your proposition in a succinct way.
- Use a personal greeting
High-value clients most likely encounter hundreds of template-based emails a day. Make yours stand out by addressing them by their first name or mentioning something specific to each prospect.
- Highlight the benefits
Use smart formatting to emphasize the benefits of working with your brand. Again, don’t over complicate your message and get straight to the point each time.
- Include links to relevant pages
Finally, your outreach email should show the prospect the way forward. Include a link to the appropriate landing page or redirect them to a certain resource that will help them take action.
3. Increase Subscriptions with a Blog
The next thing you need to figure out is the value you’re willing to offer potential leads.
There’s no way a prospect would give up their personal information if it’s unclear how they’ll benefit — unless they use a fake email address, that is.
Fortunately, savvy clients don’t always demand a lot before they trust the freelancers they choose to work with.
A professional-looking, informational blog with a few quality pieces may suffice to win them over. As an added precaution, however, avoid some of the most crucial UX mistakes that beginner freelancers make when designing their website. Depending on how they feel when they’re on your site, they just might click away without reaching out to you.
It’s worth pointing out that building a blog from scratch isn’t exactly a technical challenge, either. It is, after all, a core feature that can be found in most website builders and even e-commerce platforms.
The tricky part is creating blog posts that your potential clients want to read. And for this, you’ll need to do a little content research using tools like BuzzSumo and Google Alerts or Q&A websites like Quora.
For new freelancers, the latter is more lucrative as it delves directly into the questions that your potential clients may be asking.
Typing keywords into the built-in search bar alone should yield a handful of blog content ideas right off the bat.
When it comes to developing the actual post, below are crucial tips you need to remember:
- Match it with a featured image
Adding a featured image to your blog post boosts reader engagement, makes the content more shareable on social media and improves conversion rates. Some of the best sites to look for royalty-free stock images are Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels.
- Let your brand voice be heard
You don’t need to be a freelance writer to be able to showcase your expertise in blog form. If you’re really knowledgeable in your field, then you’re more than capable of producing insightful content based on the topics you’ve researched.
- Use grammar checkers
Although you don’t need to have a professional writing tone to write quality posts, what you can’t afford to compromise on is the integrity of your grammar or spelling. A great solution is to use free grammar checkers like Grammarly to drastically improve the readability of your content. Here is Grammarly’s free grammar-checking tool.
4. Have an Opt-In Offer
To entice even more prospects to subscribe to your mailing list, a reliable strategy is to offer an incentive.
In email marketing, this usually pertains to a free eBook, a special deal, exclusive access to premium content, and trial periods.
There are no specific set of rules on what kind of offer your freelancing brand should use. A rule of thumb, come up with something that helps leads solve their problems and increase the demand for your services — without pressuring them to hire you immediately.
For example, if you’re a freelance web developer, you can offer an eBook about the principles of effective landing page design.
It shouldn’t force them to hire you to get value out of the eBook, but it should help you earn their trust and consider your assistance for their project.
Of course, the subscription itself should also be positioned as a value offering to your prospects. Be sure you publish enough newsletters and promote quality content to stay in the minds of leads.
If you haven’t written a blog post in a while and have nothing new to share, consider republishing your old content or curating and promoting content from other authoritative websites — your subscribers should still thank you for it.
Bonus Tip: Expanding the Scope of Your Outreach
The strategies above should be enough to help you find and convert leads into clients, but why stop there?
If you rely solely on the leads you generate yourself, your results may come slowly.
To help you land clients fast, you shouldn’t be afraid to approach cold prospects. One tactic is to obtain your lead’s email address from LinkedIn and add them to your outreach campaign.
Just be careful and avoid sending them the promotional emails you send your actual subscribers — nobody appreciates being added to mailing lists they didn’t subscribe to. Keep everything professional and remember the ground rules outlined in the last step.
Jimmy Rodela is the owner and Founder of the Guild of Bloggers. He is a Freelance writer and a content marketer