Large businesses devote thousands of dollars to creating an online presence and building brand reputation. The more active a company is online, the more recognizable their brand becomes.
While freelancers usually lack the budget and advertizing staff used by large companies, they can still get their name out there and build an online presence. Most of these strategies cost very little in terms of money. What do they require? Time.
Get a Website
It’s possible to run an effective freelance business without your own website, but you’re operating at a disadvantage. A website gives you an immediate presence online and gives you a permanent place to display your talents.
Blog and Guest Blogs
Whether you’re providing freelance writing services or building classroom furniture, you’re an expert in your field. Take advantage of this by blogging about your area of expertise. Over time, you build up an audience of regular readers. Link your blog to your website; it makes the site more attractive to search engines.
Don’t restrict yourself to your own blog either. Writing guest posts for other bloggers is an excellent way to get your name out there and gives you opportunity to link back to your own website. Only guest blog for high quality blogs, however; you don’t want your name associated with poorly maintained or suspicious sites.
Spend some time every week hanging out on message boards, chats or LinkedIn forums that relate to your business. Such environments offer plenty of opportunity to make connections within your industry.
Be helpful and supportive on the forums, so you develop a reputation as an approachable expert. In addition to increasing your reputation in your industry, you can find possible mentors, business clients and friends. Don’t discount how important industry friends can be; many a freelancer has found work when a busy but friendly competitor referred clients to her.
Social media offers excellent opportunities to build online awareness for both you and your services. If you’re a writer, start a Twitter feed with advice for writers. If you provide a physical product, display your products on Pinterest.
Using social media for self-promotion requires a bit of a balancing act. You don’t want to be too self-promoting or you’ll turn off people. The same strategy you use on industry message boards works well: be helpful, show off your personality and use obviously self-promoting content sparingly.
If you do use social media, give some serious thought to a well-designed logo. A logo helps people remember you, and can be used as your profile picture on multiple social sites and forums. If you don’t feel comfortable designing your own logo, hiring a graphic artist is well worth the expense.
Building your prescence online is a very important part of your business. Read Marketing in the Age of Google for great in depth information.