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I don’t see a window for promotion in my current workplace, so I am thinking of going freelance, how do I build a following/future client base, market myself as an expert, and create a brand with clout (while I am still employed)?
Moonlighting in Marlborough
Dear Moonlighting in Marlborough,
I am sure the experience you are going through is far from unique. It can often feel hard to be promoted internally. Sometimes jobs just aren’t available, but sometimes it can be a skills gap, that if you do go out and earn extra experience, that gap can be closed easily for future roles.
In terms of going freelance, start by creating some online content that represents you to future clients.
Depending on what you are offering, you need to think about who you would like to work for. If your aim is to set up your own business, working back in a corporate environment, with the same people you worked with before, then LinkedIn may be a good place to start. Why don’t you give your profile a 30-minute overhaul with your future dream clients in mind?
Things I’d recommend to get started:
- Ask for recommendations from your past employers, and also co-workers. Build up a bank of 10+ great reviews that can showcase your talents.
- Add an audio recording of your voice, at the moment you have the option to record your name. This gives any future client the chance to check how to pronounce your name in advance and gives a quick personal touch to your account.
- The Freelance Informer suggests taking a peek at Audiogram apps. Here is an article that explains some of the latest apps out there.
- Post some content to your account that is professionally relevant. It could be a link to a blog you have written, but it could also be highlighting a future trend in your industry. Be seen to be in the know – that way people will come back to your posts for the latest sector trends and updates.
More general tips I’d recommend include starting an email list that you can add clients to, and build up the practise of emailing them useful content that keeps you in their minds. There are marketing services that do this for you if you are short on time, and also email campaign templates that help your emails look more professional.
Over time, I’d add a website to that list, if you haven’t already. What you will have to consider is checking that the name you propose to work under has not been taken by someone else. A quick bit of Google searching should help with that aim. You can go onto domain name checker sites, or even your website builder site, which may be able to propose alternative domain names if yours has been already taken.
Many think social media is the most important tool or outlet for attracting freelance work, but a strong website that shows what you do and the types of clients you work with will help you immensely if you want to exhibit clout.
Lastly, I’d start making a list of key freelance influencers in your market. Analyse how they have built up their careers, how do they use social media, do they have a web site, then with your research complete, you can reverse engineer it.
This session on The Couch was provided by Shona Chambers, a UK-based freelance Marketing Consultant that works with small business owners and corporates. Check out her recently launched book, 100 Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners.
Shona wrote the book during lockdown (talk about someone who doesn’t waste time when they’ve got it – a lesson to us all). The book is easy to digest and has step by step chapters that provide freelancers and small business owners alike with amazing tips that are simple, but genius in that they wake up your mental marketing mojo.