Marketing your freelance business can be overwhelming. Everywhere you turn, somebody is advising you how and where to push your product (and what you’ve been doing wrong).
Fortunately, there is a simple focusing exercise you can do to sharpen marketing materials and identify your niche.
Ask yourself three very basic questions to zero in on your unique freelance strengths.
1.) What is it you do?
Not to sound snarky, but what do you actually do? Put it in the simplest terms; pretend that you’re explaining it to a bright seventh-grader.
Next, define with what kinds of clients you work – or with what kinds of clients do you aspire to work?
Then, answer the following questions:
- What do you help them do?
- To what is the bulk of your day devoted?
- What would you like to spend more of your day doing?
Reducing your work to concise, un-flowery phrases forces you to get back to basics. Marketing needs to be strong and easy to understand, which means using simple, forthright language.
Clever phraseology can come later! First, figure out what exactly you currently do – and what you would like to be doing more.
Join Freelancers Union (it's free!)
2.) What are your strengths?
If this is a difficult question for you to answer, think of things that differentiate you from other freelancers in your field.
Here are some questions to get you started:
Do you have more experience? Are you super-fast, or very precise? Are you unusually creative?
Do you have expertise in working with a certain type of client? Are you a great independent worker, or do you lead teams well?
Do you have a previous career that gives you special insight? Are you especially detail-oriented, or can you think fast on your feet?
Are you capable of working in a variety of different mediums?
The nice thing is that there are no “right” answers. Almost any answer is a good answer when spun the right way.
Figure out what makes you unique! That’s a great place to generate ideas for memorable marketing materials.
3.) Scope out the market
Check out job listings for your dream gigs.
DON’T rely on those to give you really great phraseology; unfortunately, a lot of job listings are pedantic and overwritten. Instead, scroll through a bunch of listings and note what words and phrases occur over and over again.
Are your dream gigs calling for great communicators? Do they want versatility? Do they need collaborators? Note what skills are in demand, and see how that lines up with you.
Next, do a quick Google of other individuals and companies who are working in your field. Again, you are NOT looking to steal any ideas – that’s both unethical and counterproductive (you need to find your own niche).
Instead, look for commonalities: What ideas are done to death? What does almost everyone offer? Can you compete or build contrast within your marketing materials? Use what you find as both information and inspiration.
Finding the convergence of a) what you do b) what you do especially well, and c) demands within your field is key to hitting a marketing sweet spot.
With a firmer grasp on these basic concepts, you’ll have a much better idea of how to focus promotional materials for your freelance business – zeroing on what YOU do better than anybody else, in simple, digestible terms.
Kate Shea lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily. You can catch up with her on Twitter at @katerone.