Generating new business takes a lot of time and consistency. As a freelancer, you would probably rather focus on doing what you do best — the skill you’re marketing.
But to get your work out there in the hands of new clients, you have to actively look for leads.
With good lead generation strategies, you won’t have to repeat time-consuming processes over and over. The hard work goes in at the beginning, and then the strategies fall into place.
Your target market is waiting for you, but you have to be ready to keep them. This comes from cultivating your brand and using your communication skills to generate leads.
Take these techniques and tips from small business owners who have been in your shoes. Tweak them for your service or product, and the potential clients will come to you!
Here are some things we’re going to discuss in this article:
1. The Foundation of Lead Generation
2. Creating Marketing Strategies
3. Creating Website Content
4. Offering a Carrot
5. Getting Involved in Networking
Use a CRM and Get Organized
1. Learn the Foundation of Lead Generation
Many freelancers consider the idea of “lead generation” to mean getting their name in front of their ideal clients. From there, the obvious next step is getting hired.
You’ve probably heard about the importance of optimizing your site for SEO and using strategic formulas to get noticed. While those things are important pieces of the whole picture, they lack the finesse necessary in landing and keeping clients.
Lead generation itself is an art, not a science. There are some factors that can’t be rushed and must be molded.
As you make a name for yourself in your industry, work on creating a trustworthy reputation through:
Building Brand Recognition
Statistics can guide you as you develop your brand. For instance, consumers are more likely to remember a logo that has colors than one that’s black and white.
Creating a Portfolio of Steady Clients
Ask for their permission to use the content you designed or compiled for them. Encourage reviews, both in writing and online, and include these in your portfolio.
Studying Other Successful Brands
What are they doing that you’re not? It may be time to revamp your brand design or logo, or how you’re using it.
Setting Goals for Your Business
Many companies have a mission statement that includes their ultimate goals. How do you want people to think of your business, and you in particular?
Whether you’re new to your freelancing gig or you’ve already cultivated a name for yourself, branding, portfolios, and goals are integral. Getting the attention of your client market and then bringing in the final sale is always a unique process.
You can’t apply a one-size-fits-all formula to it. Your technique must be specific to the individual prospect.
These are factors that are continually in play, no matter how experienced you get at your skill. Your reputation and brand are crucial to generating and obtaining leads.
Related: How to Prepare for Your First Meeting With a New Client
2. Take the Time to Create Marketing Strategies
Marketing doesn’t have to break your bank. In fact, much of today’s marketing for small businesses can be done through social media platforms for free or inexpensively.
Online courses can teach you how to use Facebook ads and advertising through other social networks like LinkedIn. Social media in multiple forums is a popular way small businesses and corporations create a legitimate source of leads.
Even without a course, though, you can develop a solid marketing strategy that will bring you leads and pay for itself.
A solid business plan goes hand-in-hand with your marketing ideas.
Look through your current plans and make sure you’ve covered factors like:
Identifying Your Ideal Client
Many techniques suggest creating an Ideal Client Avatar or Profile. This is a way for you to go in-depth to visualize who you are marketing to.
Answer questions like: What are their demographics? What are they interested in? What do they do all day?
By putting together a comprehensive profile of the average person you want to attract, your focus becomes that target. From there, you can develop a marketing campaign geared towards your true target audience.
Related: How to Create a Customer Profile Template
Determining Your Marketing Budget
Whether it’s zero or the sky’s the limit, you need to determine how much you are willing to spend on your campaign. This will guide you in your decision-making as to how you’re going to generate leads.
Measuring Your Strategy’s Success
Set micro-goals along with your big targets that you can check in regular intervals.
If your smaller goals are being met, your strategy is on target. You don’t want to wait until it’s too late to realize you needed to tweak something along the way.
As you choose how you want to market your business, keep these factors in sight at all times.
See also: How to Track Business Expenses [Step-by-Step Guide]
3. Get Content on Your Website
One of the top sources of leads comes from Google searches. To show up on the coveted first page, you must jump through hoops to fit their ever-changing algorithm.
But, as we said, generating leads isn’t a science, although there are mathematical aspects to it.
If you approach it strictly from that standpoint, you’ll lose out on a necessary piece of the formula.
Qualitative factors like high-quality content and relevance can’t be measured with numbers. These are also evolving targets that are considered in the search engine’s algorithm, making it impossible to “fake” your expertise.
A factor that hasn’t changed is the requirement that the front page of a web search is for the top experts in the field.
To prove this is you, you have to generate relevant, unique content consistently. You can’t rush it, though. This content will come with time, but you have to start the process.
If writing isn’t your forte, you can hire content writers to create it for you. However, it has to be good quality, authentic, and relevant to your field.
Don’t settle for low-paid writers who spin other work and call it their own. This can actually reduce your “grade” in Google’s formula and knock you back to a last-page search.
Also, don’t forget the value of customer testimonials and case studies of your most successful projects as additional content to add to your site.
Check out The Best Time Organization Hacks for Freelancers
4. Offer a Carrot
People love to feel like they’re getting the best value for their money. It’s human nature, and you can use it to your advantage.
What’s the carrot that you can offer? This could be a free or discounted service, a coupon, or a helpful tip sheet. You could also show off your know-how and talent with a webinar or podcast that gives basic instruction in getting started in your art or vocation.
In fact, “carrots” are part of a marketing strategy called the funnel system. Once you determine what your giveaway product is, you can use it to entice potential clients to your site.
With a marketing funnel, you recognize a need your clients have, and you develop a solution to fill that need. In the funnel system, you create awareness of your business by your strategy of choice: social media, online ads, direct email campaigns, etc.
Once you have the potential client’s attention, you encourage them to visit your site by offering them a carrot. This item is part of your landing page, where you collect relevant data about the visitor, who is now a “lead.”
By accepting your free gift, they begin to get comfortable with your business. You can reach out to them as a “warm lead” through a follow-up email campaign.
Now, the potential client has seen your business and product reliability. They know you’re not going to spam them, and your carrot has done its job.
They are now more likely to choose you when they are in need of your service because you have established a trust with them.
Looking for even more ways to build your client base? Read 9 Ways to Get More Contract Work.
5. Get Involved in Networking
Networking is crucial to every business, whether you’re a small, local-based operation or a large corporation. As you build your network of connections, you’ll have referrals, and you’ll have people you can refer others to. It’s a symbiotic relationship that works when you nurture it.
But how do you network when you’re a freelancer?
Freelancing as a career option has skyrocketed over the past decade. Called “the gig economy,” workers like you comprise almost 40% of the country’s workforce. With over 50 million people freelancing, there’s a huge network of possibilities.
There are conferences around the world geared towards building networks between entrepreneurs. If traveling long distances isn’t in your schedule, find local meetups, and make yourself a consistent guest. Remember to bring your business cards — they still matter.
As you build relationships with other freelancers, you may find your fields intersect in some ways. If they have a service your clients are interested in that doesn’t affect your business, you might consider asking them to write a guest blog on your site.
This content helps your optimization, and backlinks from their site can drive their guests to your page, too. It’s a win/win method to utilize your networking connections when it’s done right.
Part of your marketing strategy can be used in networking. Invest in reputable events that may be across the country. You will probably find that these costs more than pay for themselves.
See also: 10 Essential Skills that Freelancers Need to Master
6. Use a CRM to Generate Leads and Stay Organized
How you keep your leads organized can make or break your client loyalty and referrals. How will you remember to follow-up with a potential lead? What are the important things about this client that you should know?
From your scheduling to the little touches like birthday reminders, you need something to keep you organized. That’s when a customer relationship management program comes in handy.
A good CRM can be your go-to tool for organizing your email list, communicating with potential clients, and managing your schedule. And you want this system in place before you start generating leads, so you don’t lose track of them.
If you’re juggling between your calendar, your website, and your email account, you’re working too hard. A CRM like Bloom lets you keep everything you need in one easily accessible place.
- Lead Management: Bloom’s management/workflow feature gives you the ability to follow up on each lead with tasks you create, automatic calendar scheduling, and notes to reference for future communication.
- Communication: Bloom’s centralized chat area gives you two-way communication features. Emails, online chat, and automated response generators are conveniently accessed in one spot.
- Marketing Automation: Streamline your processes from start to finish with Bloom’s marketing automation features. Set up your automation, monitor how the recipients interact with them and gauge what’s working and what needs to be tweaked.
- Online Processes: Bloom’s form builders give you the power to make everything possible online. Clients can schedule their appointments with you without interacting directly and costing you time. They can choose what they want to hire you for, sign a contract, and pay for the work. You don’t have to do a thing!
Bloom is designed with creatives in mind. If it’s relevant to running your business seamlessly, so you have more time for your work and your life, you can find it with Bloom.
With so many avenues to find potential customers, you have a wide-open field. But that field is also full of competition in your industry and resources that can take a lot of time to weed through.
You’re a busy creative professional with your sights set on success. Instead of managing multiple accounts to keep track of your clients and business needs, you want a CRM that does the work for you.
As you’re actively seeking lead generation techniques, start by adding “Contact Bloom” to the top of your list. Everything else will fall into place from there!
Now that you’ve got more clients, get them to book more work!