The freelance lifestyle is an attractive one. But with all of the flexibility comes the reality that work might not always be as regular as we
Starting a new business or freelance venture is overwhelming, there’s no getting around it. While you’re hustling to build up a list of clients to make sure that you can pay the bills, you should also be simultaneously working on various marketing materials to help you close deals with said clients. An air of professionalism in the way you present your business can be the difference between getting the job, or losing out to someone who takes their branding efforts a bit more seriously.
The following represent some of the most important marketing materials you’ll need when you start working for yourself. Don’t feel like you need everything at once, but instead, use this as a to do list of sorts to be constantly chipping away at. The better you can represent your business through these various marketing materials, the more trust you’ll build at the beginning of a potential deal, and the more likely you are to win the client.
Represent your #business with these 11 marketing materials. Click To Tweet
As some of these things build on each other, you’ll want to first start with the important foundational elements before getting into the more complicated pieces.
An elevator pitch is the least expensive (free, in fact), but most important marketing piece you’ll need when working for yourself. Practice talking to somebody about what you do in one minute, then 45 seconds, 30 seconds, and challenge yourself to be succinct in just 15 seconds. You’ll need some version of your elevator pitch for your website/portfolio and social media profiles, so it’s important to work on this before you get there.
While you’re at it, take the time to define your target audience in the form of one or multiple marketing personas. It’s important to do this before anything else on this list, because it will inform almost anything you do on behalf of your business. Hubspot’s MakeMyPersona tool can help to jumpstart and simplify the process.
Your logo helps to brand professional materials as “yours” and will be used on anything from your social media profiles, to your website, contracts, invoices, and more. With Fiverr Workspace you can simply add your own logo to your invoices so you’re representing your brand at every touchpoint. If your budget is limited, purchase a basic logo from a seller who’s work you like on Fiverr. Or, if there’s a graphic designer in your network, propose a trade of services. Win-win!
Despite numerous articles claiming that “business cards are dead!” there’s a greater camp of people who would vehemently disagree. Many freelance jobs operate over the internet, but there’s definitely still room in the offline version of society for the exchange of business cards. The following situations represent ideal situations to be carrying business cards, instead of struggling to find a pen and paper:
- A local networking event
- Meeting new people: whether expected or unexpected (like on the train)
- At a family gathering. Your family might ask for some to give to friends who need your help!
Vistaprint is an excellent entry-level option for the printing of various promotional materials you’ll need when working for yourself. Their standard offering for business cards is 500 for $9.99.
If you’re already putting in an order for business cards, why not knock this piece off your marketing materials to do list at the same time? Don’t underestimate the power of snail mail, and the ability to use it to stand out from other freelancers vying for the same job.
Using your business’s logo, or a monogram of your initials, to create some simple branded stationery/cards to use for all occasions. For example, if you’re meeting with a potential new client, follow up with a thank you card. Or if a client is going through a hard time, send your condolences on your branded stationery. You may want to purchase custom cards for big holidays like Christmas, but if you’re short on time just use your branded stationery!
You need headshots. This is non-negotiable. If you are working for yourself and operating an online business, people will want to see who you are. A smiling face that acts as your avatar will instill a level of trust in you that’s infinitely greater than Twitter’s default egg or LinkedIn’s default grey silhouette.
Headshots are not glamour shots. And they don’t have to be expensive! Use a little bit of savvy to keep your costs down if you have a limited budget:
- Attend a networking event with a photographer offering mini sessions.
- Scope out local coworking spaces with frequent events. Some bring in photographers for headshot sessions.
- DIY with a plain background, a neat/professional appearance, and the help of a friend.
A professional can help you get the best results, but if all else fails, make it happen on your own. You’ll need a headshot for your social profiles, the about page on your website, author bios on guest posts, and so much more that you won’t realize until the situation presents itself.
And while you’re at it, consider the power of video. Smart online entrepreneurs are realizing that using video on their website and social channels can be an excellent way to gain favor with potential clients. The more of your personality you can show through content creation efforts, the easier it is for a person to imagine themselves working with you. No need for expensive production equipment or fancy editing, the built-in tools on your computer will do just fine.
As you win new clients and go through onboarding, you’ll start to recognize the need for certain documents and processes that could be standardized to save you time. The following represent document templates every freelancer will want to create:
When you start working for yourself, you won’t need these documents immediately, but it will certainly help to have them ahead of when you need them! Quick tip: Fiverr Workspace’s app has all of these features in one spot.
If you’re working for yourself in an online field, you’ll be sending a lot of emails. A detailed email signature represents the perfect opportunity for passively marketing yourself to anyone you come into contact with, whether you’re pitching them or not.
A great email signature contains the following components:
- Phone number (if you’re not comfortable sharing your direct number, consider setting up another through Google Voice)
- Links to relevant social profiles/your website
Wisestamp is a dynamic option for creating an email signature that allows you to easily display your latest blog post and other useful pieces of your online identity. Plans start at $6/month, but AppSumo has been known to offer lifetime access for less than $50.
And just like an email signature is an online billboard of sorts for every email interaction, you might also want to consider passively advertising what you do offline through a branded t shirt, baseball cap, or hoodie.
Depending on the services/products you offer, it’s not necessary to be on every social platform. But it’s worth your time to create a consistent strategy on at least one or two of the following:
- Linkedin: necessary for cultivating professional connections.
- Twitter: a platform for building thought leadership and networking within a certain industry.
- Instagram: best used only if you have a lot of visual content to share. It’s not a super high converter if you’re looking for traffic, but potential client connections are known to happen here at random.
- Facebook: almost everyone looks here for your business and it’ll be important to start building an audience/content if you eventually run ads. Take this opportunity to install a Facebook Pixel on your website, which will come in handy for future retargeting efforts.
- Google+/Google My Business: Establish a Google+ profile no matter what for incremental help with SEO. Complete a Google My Business profile if you’re a local business, to help local patrons find you.
- Pinterest: With the right approach, this social bookmarking website can be a huge traffic generator.
While you’re at it, develop some daily themes and image templates to help with the process of content creation. Consistency is key to success.
Consistency on social media is key to #personalbranding success. Click To Tweet
You may not be ready to send out an email newsletter yet, but you should take some time to lay the foundation for it. Enable signup forms on your website/social media so that you can start collecting emails. Then, work on a basic template for future email sends. You’ll be glad you started the list building process early on.
And while you’re messing around with your website, take the opportunity to install Google Analytics to help you measure all of these marketing efforts.
Freelance Job Sites Profiles
Getting work from Upwork or Fiverr is not a long term strategy for success, but it can be a short-term strategy for paying the bills and building up your portfolio. So when you’re just getting started working for yourself, take some time to create a complete and engaging profile on your platforms of choice. For example, adding a video to each Fiverr gig can increase the number of people ordering it, even if you’re just getting started on the platform.
This piece is one of the most important and one of the most procrastinated on the list of marketing materials people when working for themselves. Depending on the type of services/products you offer, your website can take on many forms.
Some options include:
- WordPress (industry-agnostic)
- Contently if you’re a writer
- Behance if you’re a Designer
- Github if you’re a developer
- Shopify if you’re selling products
And if you opt for a website over a portfolio building tool, make sure to create content/functionality for the following standard pages:
- Blog (optional, but useful)
- Services/Work with Me
Working for Yourself: 11 Marketing Materials You’ll Need
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the marketing materials you’ll need to put together when you start working for yourself, that’s completely understandable. Some things you’ll want right away, while others could wait until a situation calls for them. Of course, in the best case scenario, you’ll create marketing materials ahead of when you need them to the best of your ability (and time!).