September 09, 2022
What makes you unique?
Website & portfolio
Word of mouth
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Marketing is one of those things that people love to say they’re not good at (almost as much as sales). But with a little bit of prep, it should be relatively easy to create the key pieces you’ll need to tell the world why you’re so awesome — and additionally in a way that they’ll love and want to share with others.
Please note: This blog post is part of our Lano Freelancer Guide. If you haven't read the previous posts in the series yet, we recommend you to do so before continuing with this post.
You can find the previous posts here:
This sounds a lot more complicated than it needs to be (but from experience, it can be as complicated as you’d like it to be). Describing who you are and what you do are great places to start, as it’s highly unlikely anyone else will have had the exact same experiences as you, and be doing the exact same things.
Adding explanations of your process and the things you care about provide even more uniqueness to your profile, and give prospective clients something interesting to use when starting conversations.
Having one thing you’d like anyone who comes across your work to remember, whether it’s a website, presentation, portfolio, or recommendation among colleagues and friends, is important. Or as Simon Sinek famously said on TED; “Start with Why.”
Building your unique story around your ‘why’ then becomes more about filling in the blanks of your life, and less about being different from other people.
If you tell a story people can relate to that has a call to action, chances are people will follow through on this. We all love a good story.
If you’re in the creative or consulting industries, there’s a high likelihood someone along the way will ask, or has asked, to see your website and portfolio. Chances are they’ll be asked in the same breath, too. But that doesn’t mean the content needs to be completely different.
In advertising, effective frequency suggests the repetition of messages in different media can help people remember pretty much anything. So don’t feel so weird about reusing content when it makes sense to — brands have been doing it for decades.
The amount of no-code websites (or websites which allow content and media changes using drag-and-drop functionality) has increased over the years. They’re quick, easy, and relatively affordable ways to build a website for companies and individuals.
Squarespace has a number of their templates that are easy to tweak and have beautiful visuals already embedded. Wix also has a template for almost any project, and is just as easy to use. Chances are you’ll be able to find a template on either option where all you’d have to do is slightly tweak the content, upload your headshot, and add some links. Even easier than pie.
For creating a portfolio, Canva, which also has a number of ready-made templates, provides the inspiration and tools you’ll need to accomplish something that might have seemed daunting in the past.
There’s been a big push for measuring the return on investment (ROI) of your work as a freelancer. Understanding why you were brought onto a project, what you set out to accomplish, then how you actually did it once the project was complete, is something companies may be looking for even more in cash-strapped times.
There’s no real set format for case studies, but there are some common ‘formulas’ for lack of a better term.
Sometimes it might make sense to have a problem / solution focus.
Other times, it might be best to simply answer why / what / how.
And yet other times, you’ll have incredible testimonial quotes from those you’ve worked with.
No matter which way you write it, here’s a format that hardly ever fails:
Provide context on the company or project
Outline what you were trying to achieve
Explain a bit about how you did that
Add three milestones you achieved along the way.
This might be considered one of the strongest forms of marketing, because a recommendation from a close friend or business acquaintance quickly and easily builds trust. You’ll get your foot in the door with a new client, and the person who recommends you feels like they’ve done something good. Everyone wins.
Building relationships with people to the point where they’re willing to recommend you is an amazing achievement. And one of the easiest ways to pay them back is by making it easy for them to recommend you. Giving them hints as to what to say when introducing you, does just this.
But if word of mouth isn’t an option just yet, cold outreach is another way to get started. Even if people don’t have work for you, chances are they have a lot of advice to share, or better yet, keep you in mind for potential later work.
To get started, we recommend creating a few templates for reaching out to people you don’t know. Keep track of which email gets the best response rate, and spend some time understanding why it gets the most responses. Then, send more emails that are similar to the one that works well.
Maybe it’s been a few years, and your hard freelancing work is paying off. You love the lifestyle, have built up a fantastic roster of clients, and your processes are all set and easily managed.
Scaling is all about taking what you’re currently doing, and turning it into even more. Maybe that’s more clients, more money, or more people working with you. Or maybe it’s about building something new within your expert niche through more products and services.
But how do you know the time is right? Just like any business, only you as the CEO can know when the time is right to start scaling. Maybe you’re looking for a new challenge, or want to try and earn even more income. Maybe people you trust and admire are telling you it’s time to scale up your freelance activities.
Amy Rigby, a freelance writer, details on Foundr three different ways to scale up — subcontracting, turning yourself into an agency, and creating new products. The sky’s really the limit when it comes to what you can do. Mentors or people who have been with you from the beginning can help you make the tough decisions about where to focus your energy for the maximum return.
If you’re looking for help with the necessities to scale, courses such as Creative Class can help you with processes and experimentation to find your niche, while podcasts can provide inspiration from other freelancers who have successfully worked through challenges before.
Companies such as Lano can make it easy to get paid on time, stay organized, and become even more efficient with your everyday paperwork, which scales in correlation to your freelance activities.
In the end, it’s all about following your passion, and finding new and creative ways to harness it.
So, here's the most important info in a nutshell:
Telling your real story makes you unique
Some information may be repeated on your website and portfolio — that’s the way it should be
Case studies explain what you did, for whom, and why they loved the results
Make it easy for people to recommend you by giving them the words to recommend you
Create a few email or message templates and track the number of positive responses
Only you can decide when the time is right to scale
The sky’s the limit
Look to courses or podcasts for inspiration
Follow your passion
And that’s it!
This is the first version of the essential freelancer’s handbook. Is there a situation you’re facing that we didn’t talk about, or something you’d like more information on? Contact us with what you’d like us to include in the next version.
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