by Joe Wallace
There’s plenty of advice floating around out there telling you what to do to market yourself as a freelancer. Let’s not re-invent the wheel on that one.
Instead, let’s take a look at some things you should stop doing right now.
FOLLOWING THE HERD
We all do it, even I’m guilty. But the worst way to market yourself is to try wading into a crowded marketplace with too many people in it and try to get noticed. If you fly with the flock, you’ll never stand out from it.
Instead, try hitting some markets that don’t seem so obvious. Travel writers would naturally gravitate to something like a Lonely Planet type guide or magazine–why not write travel pieces for food mags instead? The proper angle is the key. Freelance editors get stuck thinking about books and scripts, websites or magazines…but there are plenty of catalogues, brochures, technical manuals and other things out there with the same need for a sharp eye.
Think outside the box. WAY outside. Forget the traditional routes and find something so crazy you don’t think it’s ever been tried before. Once Catherine Tully and I co-wrote an article about martial arts.
For a JUGGLING magazine.
Get the idea?
Not Having Your Own Domain
One prolific blogger I know bought a domain called “IAmJohnDoe.com”. No, John Doe isn’t her real name and that isn’t her actual domain name. (It’s not live yet so she asked me to keep it private). Her chosen domain name (JohnDoe.com) was already hogged up by some other type of business, so she got creative.
The point is, if you are marketing yourself, you need to put your name out there connected with all the keywords in your specialty. Freelance writer, freelance editor, graphic designer, catapult builder, whatever. Yeah, I’ll say it–“for free” domains are useless for you if you are serious about marketing yourself. The first impression factor alone might not matter, but the amount of control you have over your own domain versus one of those free ones is worth the price.
Not to mention that if your free domain company goes bust at some point, or switches to a for-pay model you don’t like, you lose any Google value your site has built up over time.
Your goal with a site like this should include building it up so that if someone does a Google search on “Your Home Town Here” and “Freelance Writer” or “Freelance Editor” or “Freelance Cat Juggler” they should be getting YOU in the top results, because your resume site includes the right combination of keywords and relevant information.
Marketing Yourself To Other Freelancers at the Expense Of Your Target Market
I belong to a few e-mail lists for writers and editors. A lot of people spend an inordinate amount of time doing PR stuff on these mailing lists, chatrooms, LinkedIn groups, etc. “Hey, I’m teaching here” or “Read my interview there” and such–a high volume of material that’s aimed at other freelancers. My question is this–how much time are you spending getting street cred with your fellow freelancers versus marketing yourself to potential clients?
I am NOT saying don’t participate in these groups. What I am saying is beware of spending more time with your colleagues than you do with your target market. Blowing your own horn is great, but if you’re just blowing for the rest of the orchestra to hear you aren’t really PERFORMING, know what I mean?