Today, driving to an office in a fancy looking suit isn’t the only way to make a stable living. The world has evolved. Freelancers in almost every industry are turning their work-from-home jobs into legitimate stacks of cash, challenging our perceptions of what a “good job” ought to be.
Making money as a freelancer, however, requires that you have clients. Arguably, one of the biggest challenges facing freelancers is finding enough clients to fill their schedule so that income streams don’t dry up. Whether you are just starting out or are already a freelancing veteran, promoting your work as a freelancer is the bedrock of your business.
In this post, we will look at 5 powerful online platforms that you can use to promote your work. We’ll also look at which platforms may be best suited for your needs while sharing tips on how you can stand out and compete amongst a sea of other talented freelancers. Let’s get into it.
LinkedIn has long been the place where professionals connect and network.
So, it made sense that LinkedIn finally launched LinkedIn ProFinder in 2016 as a place to showcase your expertise as a freelancer. Even better, small businesses can also use LinkedIn ProFinder to search for freelance professionals that meet their business needs.
One of the best things about LinkedIn ProFinder is that, as a freelancer, you receive regular emails informing you about leads that meet your specific set of skills. This can help you get the jump on your competition, allowing you to pitch to clients as soon as you get the email.
Setting Up Your LinkedIn ProFinder Profile for Success
- If you don’t already have a LinkedIn Account, you will have to create one in order to use LinkedIn ProFinder. This does involve an hour or two of work to complete. However, once it is done (and done well), it can be the key that separates you from the rest of the pack.
- Navigate to the LinkedIn Profinder homepage. At the top of the page, click on “Join as a Pro” to start filling out your profile.
- Upload a personable yet professional headshot for your profile picture.
- In the Headline section of your LinkedIn profile, make sure to be specific about the freelance services you offer. Also, note what potential clients can expect from you. For instance, if you are trying to establish yourself as a health writer, instead of just typing in “Writer” as your headline, trying something like, “Health Writer for Dental/Medical Clinics” to be more specific. The more detailed you are, the more likely it is that you’ll get noticed and hired.
- The Summary section of your profile, which also shows up at the top of your profile, is another place that deserves attention. Again, be sure to use the keywords you would like to be hired for. Using the same example as above, an attention-grabbing summary may read something like this: “Detail-oriented health writer. I happily serve clients who own dental and medical offices but don’t have the time to create educational content on their website for current and future patients.” This type of summary is short, to the point, and identifies exactly who you serve.
- The Recommendations section of your LinkedIn ProFinder profile is a wonderful place to showcase what others have to say about you. Social proof is a powerful motivator when it comes to marketing yourself as a freelancer.
- If you opt to receive email notifications about leads, like most freelancer platforms, it always helps if you can respond immediately. On the other hand, you can sign in to LinkedIn ProFinder daily and pitch clients who are looking for your expertise.
Here’s a crucial point to remember: LinkedIn is searchable. Thus, even if people do not use the ProFinder tool, they can still search for you using the native search tool on LinkedIn.
Optimizing your profile using the best keywords for the jobs you are targeting is yet another way to land profitable gigs.
Although Upwork has been criticized for being a platform where the “lowest bidder” wins, if you are strategic, there are still gems to be found there.
Another important thing about Upwork, one that is usually ignored, is this: The clients are actually looking for you. You don’t have to cold-call someone who may or may not be interested in your services. These are qualified leads willing to part with money to get a problem solved.
Because Upwork tends to favor freelancers who have landed more gigs, thus generating more positive reviews, it can be difficult to get started on this platform if you are new to the world of freelancing. Still, don’t let this deter you – even as a brand-new freelancer.
Just like LinkedIn, you are required to create a profile that displays your skills and communicates to future clients what you do.
Standing Out on Upwork
- Position yourself as a problem solver. Describing and pitching yourself as a “writer who writes stuff” will only get you so far. Calling yourself a “high conversion sales writer who turns bland ideas into stories that motivate purchases” is likely to get a potential client more interested in talking to you than your competition.
- Take it a little further by recording a super-short (less than 1 minute) pitch. Mention the company or person’s name, letting them know you would be excited to become their favorite go-to person for the task they are advertising.
- Pay attention to details. What exactly is the client looking for? Are they asking for experience with a very specific piece of software or coding language? Make sure you address their individual needs in your pitch.
- Speaking of details, did your potential client ask for a specific “key phrase” in your pitch? Sometimes, potential clients want to make sure freelancers actually read their directions. So, they may ask that you enter a key phrase when you pitch them. Be sure to enter the key phrase in your pitch even if it is “strawberry-banana shortcake”. Doing this shows you pay attention and are likely to follow your client’s instructions when you work together.
- Take Upwork tests for specific skill sets. This can be especially helpful when you are first starting out, supplying proof that you indeed are qualified for the skill set you are marketing.
When you’re just getting started on Upwork, it can be helpful to pick up a few of the lower-paying gigs right away. While not a solid long-term strategy, this can help get your feet wet on the platform and start building some raving reviews.
Once you have those, you can charge whatever you feel you are worth with the right clients.
Originally built as a place where freelancers were paid $5 for completing a task, these days, freelancers on Fiverr can earn $10 and up on specific projects.
Fiverr is opposite to Upwork in that you set up “shop” with the specific gig that you offer. Once you’ve been on the platform for a while, you can also add gig extras to increase your profits. One of the first things you see when you go to Fiverr is a big ole’ search bar asking clients “What service are you looking for?”
So, obviously, optimizing your Fiverr profile for search is super important. It’s how you will be discovered and your gig bought.
Tips on Getting Started with Fiverr
- Describe and qualify your gig title with words that will appeal to your buyers. “I will create a clean, modern-looking logo for your business” is much better than “I will create a logo for your business”.
- Weave your gig’s keywords into your description.
- Fiverr generates a URL for your gig the first time you create it. This URL is permanent and cannot be changed. Make sure to include the most important keyword (or keywords) in your gig title the first time you create a gig. That way, your URL populates with the keyword. You can always tweak and test your gig titles later.
Another factor that is important in Fiverr search is your seller rating. It stands to reason that sellers with the highest number of reviews gain more attention, which usually translates into more sales.
Positioning yourself as a problem solver and not just a “seller” especially applies here. Employing video in your sales pitch can also be important. In fact, according to Fiverr, sellers with videos on their profiles land 200% more gigs than seller profiles that don’t.
iFreelance is another platform to consider for showcasing your freelance work. Structured differently than Upwork and Fiverr, iFreelance does not take a commission on the payment you receive from clients for completed work.
Other than that, it is based on very similar principles.
Again, standing out as a freelancer who solves clients’ problems is an important part of getting hired and obtaining repeat work. Refer to several of the tips above to help you do just that.
If you are a freelance software developer, a designer, or finance expert who would love to work with top-tier companies like Hewlett Packard and Airbnb, Toptal is the place for you.
Toptal markets itself to top-tier companies as a place to hire the “top 3% of freelance talent.” As such, you must apply to be accepted as a freelancer on their platform.
Toptal is best suited to those with a considerable amount of experience and a solid portfolio. With that said, it is a great platform for professional freelancers to showcase their work in front of some of the world’s biggest potential clients.
As evidenced by multiple studies on the new “gig economy,” it’s clear that now is a wonderful time to be a freelancer! Still, being a great freelancer takes a lot of work – and that includes learning how to market your skills.
While the opportunities to thrive won’t disappear anytime soon, finding potential clients will always be a challenge. Whether you are an experienced freelancer or are just starting out, the platforms outlined above can help you market yourself, promote your work, and – ultimately – make more money.
This guest post was contributed by Greg Johnson of Club Thrifty.