Last Updated on

With technology advanced at such a rapid pace, it can be hard to keep up with all the current trends. What’s worse, is we as creative freelancers tend to focus on the new so much that we forget about the tried-and-true marketing tactics of the past.

While it’s true that we have to evolve to remain relevant, there are many ways or marketing ourselves that don’t rely on technology much if at all. In fact, using these old-school methods can make us stand out in a crowd of freelancers who rely on social media and email alone. So what classic marketing methods still work? Let’s find out.



Now that everybody has abandoned snail-mail in favor of email and LinkedIn messages, why not stand out by sending something tangible to prospective clients? True, it’s not free, but you can buy a fairly inexpensive list of small business owners in your area, get a short run of postcards printed and mail them for very little cost. If you design it well enough, and do a good job targeting your ideal clients, you can get a very nice return on your investment. Emails are easily deleted and hard to keep track of for future use. But if you send an enticing  postcard to someone who isn’t ready for you now, but knows they will have a need in the near future, chances are they will hold onto your postcard.

Keep in mind, postcard campaigns usually work best in multiples, so you may have to send out a few rounds before you see good results. So rather than send one round of postcards out to a greater number of potential clients, narrow your list down to a highly targeted smaller group, and send out three over the course of three months.

Networking Mixers

Sometimes the best way to find new clients is to actually meet face to face. Almost every city or town has mixers like these, aimed at small business owners, entrepreneurs, and local business people. I have attended many such events, and you will be surprised how many people you talk to will have a need for your services. Just remember to always bring your business cards, and you might consider offering your “friends and family” rate to the people that you meet if you think it will mean the difference between turning a new contact into a client.

I always recommend attending networking events alone, rather than going with friends. While it may be outside your comfort zone, you are much more likely to meet new people if you don’t bring a group of your own. And always follow up with each person you meet the following day via email, or you may even want to add them as a connection on LinkedIn. Keep the follow-up non-promotional in nature. Just say how nice it was to meet them, and let the relationship build from there.


This is the toughest old-school marketing tactic there is, and the one that people have the most difficulty embracing. Most freelancers dread the thought of picking up the phone with an intent to sell. So if that isn’t something that you think you would be good at, you can still use the telephone for another purpose: to gather facts. Let’s say you want to pitch your services to the new salon that just opened up.

Rather than relying on LinkedIn to tell you who the owner or decision-maker is, (which can actually be difficult to find in some cases,) pick up the phone and ask who that person is. At that point, you can pitch them over the phone, or by sending a letter, or via email if that’s most comfortable for you. It’s always a great idea to know the name of the person you are pitching to, rather than just going by a job title. Personalization goes a LONG way.

Thank You Cards


Nothing can make you stand out like a simple thank you card. When done the right way, it makes you seem thoughtful, genuine and real. And the best part is, there are so many ways you can utilize a thank you card: after a successful project completion, after an interview, even after a simple face-to-face meeting (at a mixer for instance.)

I recommend finding a good online printer that can print you 25-100 cards that you design yourself. Lightly brand them, (maybe include your company mascot if you have one,) and leave the inside blank, so that you can write a customized note by hand each time you send one out. This is a small personal touch that is likely to leave a lasting impression.

Final Thoughts

Just because technology keeps evolving doesn’t mean we have to (or should) forget simple marketing tactics that have worked forever. Not only will they make you stand out, but many clients may actually prefer these methods to newer, less personal ones.

Posted by Wes McDowell

Wes McDowell is the Principal and Creative Director forThe Deep End Web Design in Los Angeles. In addition to client work, he has authored several books for freelance designers and co-hosts a popular graphic design podcast called “The Deeply Graphic DesignCast.”Follow Wes on Google+

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *