Last Updated on April 8, 2016
These days, more people than ever are choosing to set-up their own freelancing business and it’s easy to see why. Freelancing allows you to work your own hours, choose your own clients and ultimately, become your own boss. It can also offer some people a favourable work/life balance that they simply couldn’t achieve in a regular nine-to-five position.
The problem is that with so many people now venturing into the world of freelancing, the market is becoming saturated. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re freelancing in (design, programming, marketing etc), you can bet that there’s always going to be a number of other freelancers just waiting to undercut you and steal your clients.
In order to stand out from the crowd and ensure that clients choose you over the competition, you’re going to need to do some marketing.
The problem is, most freelancers don’t have much of a budget for marketing and often, they don’t do any marketing at all because of this. This is a huge mistake and in this post, I’m going to talk about a few of the best marketing techniques for all the budget-strapped freelancers out there.
#1 – Post Videos Online
Most freelancers are aware of video marketing and the huge amount of power it can have when it comes to marketing but the thing is, most assume it is just far too expensive.
While having a video produced by a professional video production company might set you back thousands of dollars, you can create videos yourself for virtually no cost at all.
If you have a Smartphone (e.g. iPhone, Blackberry etc), chances are that you have a perfectly good camera just waiting to be used. But what should you create a video about?
One of the best options available to freelancers is to create a ‘how to’ video. When uploaded to YouTube, these can often gain a lot of traction and in many cases, bring in new business.
A ‘how to’ video will help to establish you as an authority figure within your industry (i.e. someone that people trust). If people trust you, they’re far more likely to hire you.
You could create a video on just about anything. If you’re a web designer you might create a few web design tutorials. If you’re a marketing guy/gal, you might create a few videos instructing people how to get more website visitors. It’s really down to you.
#2 – Utilise Stickers
When it comes to printed marketing efforts, leaflets, flyers and business cards are often at the top of the list to get produced. For whatever reason, stickers usually get completely neglected and most freelancers never consider them.
This is almost certainly a mistake as stickers can actually be one of the most cost-effective marketing techniques out there.
The great thing about stickers when compared to other printed marketing materials (flyers, leaflets etc) is that they’re great for creating brand awareness. Usually, flyers and leaflets are used to inform potential customers/clients about your products or services but often won’t achieve the brand awareness that stickers will.
Why is this? Well, stickers are a somewhat fun marketing technique and often, you’ll find them cropping up all over the place. You might see them on a lamp post, a potential clients laptop case, anywhere. Every time this happens, you’re gaining brand awareness and therefore, potential clients are more likely to trust you.
It’s important to realise that in order to have the desired effect, your stickers need to be well-designed. Make sure they’re bright, colourful and not overly complex (i.e. keep text down to a minimum). If you’re struggling, check out this guide on designing and printing the perfect sticker.
#3 – Create Online Content
Depending on the industry you work in, you may or may not be aware of the phrase ‘content marketing’. Content marketing can be one of the most cost-effective ways to attract attention for your business as with a little time and effort, it can essentially be free.
For those unaware of what content marketing is, it’s the art of creating and distributing content (e.g. blog posts, images, videos, infographics etc) with the sole aim of attracting attention for your business from your intended target audience (this infographic gives a good representation of the content marketing mix).
As a freelancer, there are a lot of things you can do in this arena on quite a tight budget. The simplest way to begin is to get your own blog and start blogging about topics within your industry. If you’re a designer, you might want to write about designing a logo or business card. If you’re a marketing expert, you might want to write about increasing conversion rates etc.
It’s free to set up a blog using WordPress or a similar platform, so all it will cost is your time and effort writing blog posts. You can also invest in content such as infographics and videos, but these can be a little more costly.
#4 – Offer Your Services For Free
Perhaps one of the best marketing techniques for freelancers on a seriously tight budget is to offer services completely free of charge. This might sound crazy but if you know what you’re doing, it can be a great way to generate some hot leads and ultimately, draw in those high-paying clients.
For example, let’s assume that you’re a freelancer and you’ve just set up your own social media marketing business. You might offer a small taster of what you do free of charge to draw in potential clients. This could be something as simple as a free 30 minute phone call offering free customized advice or it could even be a free pre-written guide that you simply mail out to all clients that are interested.
One of the best ways to utilise this marketing technique is to make use of a deals website. In the UK, you can use a site like HuddleBuy (pictured above) to help to generate leads. You can also offer these free services at networking events or in face-to-face meetings, it’s entirely down to you.
It’s all about thinking outside the box when it comes to marketing your business on a budget. It might seem like an impossible task but if you utilize the techniques mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to acquiring some pretty great clients without breaking the bank.