We all have to do it. And usually, we don’t like it: self promotion. Grab your success with my 7 secret tips – and behold for the big, secret bonus tip!
Self promotion can be scary – even the toughest marketing pros among us have been known to shy away from the task. But the term in itself is misleading: you should actually not promote your private self. Nope. Keep that one to your dearest and closest. Self promotion means to promote your professional self, the one that provides the singular service that’s making you successful.
And here comes tip number 1:
Tip 1. Keep it honest, clear and true to your self
Your professional self, that is. Unfortunately, there is no recipe for successful self promotion. No step-by-step guide, no list of ingredients that everyone can follow. Because everyone is different. Except this: you need to get clients to trust you and your work. It is not enough to gather the crowds by being loud and colourful – what you need is to get clients that come again. And again. And again. And then recommend you. Again. And… you get the gist. There is nothing wrong with getting attention – but only if you get it with promises you can keep. Which is tip number 2:
Tip 2. Always keep your promises
Don’t let your potential clients expect things you won’t deliver. By this I don’t mean basic things like keeping your deadlines, but also the tone, design and ways you promote yourself. Unfulfilled client expectations are bad for business and for your motivation. If you’re selling exclusive and very high-priced garments, for example, you don’t go advertising them with a cheap flyer at the local high school, for example (unless your postcode is 902010).
Tip 3. You don’t need a high-priced campaign
Let me tell you a story. Right around the corner where I live, there is a little pizza place. It’s a take away shop, not very cozy and, admittedly, the pizza is not very good. It has a website that’s so bad you can’t even find the phone number to place your order as well as a pretty ugly sign to guide there from the street. But the place has become successful very quickly – without spending a cent on advertising. The owner says it’s the quality of the food – but I know it can’t be. The place has no atmosphere, none of the Italian authenticity you’d expect. But even I myself keep coming back. Why? Because the owner knows my name. Because we have interesting talks while waiting for the pizza to be done. Because he knows what I want to order before I do. Because he keeps finding the right tone for me, just as he is able to adapt to every single one of his clients. This is successful self promotion, too. And it’s totally free.
Tip 4. Hire a professional!
Of course not all of us can engage our clients in talks and stuff – and most of us won’t get by via word-to-mouth. You’ll probably want to get a website, create a logo and business cards. Whatever you do: hire a professional. To design or write, to do the SEO or develop a strategy for social media. Even if you decide to build your site with Squarespace or WordPress by yourself, even if you in fact are the professional writer/designer/SEO guy/PR consultant in one, go and get a professional opinion. And maybe a second, third and fourth. If you think you can’t afford to hire a fellow freelancer, why don’t you offer your own services in return?
Tip 5. I scratch your back, you scratch mine!
Especially if you’re starting out as a freelancer, sharing your talents with fellow professionals is a good way to create a network and add to your portfolio. I know, it won’t buy you food (unless you can make a deal with the local grocery store). But it will be worth it in the long run. And the short one, too – I mean, what’s wrong with a professionally designed website and perfect SEO strategies?
Tip 6. Network, network, network!
Networking is key to successful self promotion. There are different types of networks: Many sites like Upwork connect clients and freelancers. Depending on the sector you’re working in, professional trade organizations offer similar services. Choose the right Facebook groups and Twitter accounts and you’ll get jobs you’d never see anywhere else. But please:
Tip 7: Connect offline
Go and meet people in real life, at relevant conferences and talks, for example. And if you’re still working from home or even the coffee shop, you should consider a shared office space – at least a couple of hours a week. Not only will it boost your motivation, you will meet like-minded people and create a real-life network that lasts.
Well. This was number 7. But wait! There is one more! My big secret bonus tip. Here it comes:
Bonus Tip: Create a crowdfunding campaign!
Believe it or not: Crowfunding is the best tool to market yourself. I can tell you from experience: a campaign with Kickstarter & Co. will be worth it – even if it fails. Because first of all, you can work on a project you love. That book you’ve always wanted to print. The prototype you’ve always wanted to build. The project you’ve been dreaming on for years: just do it. Crowdfunding means your work will be seen by people willing to spend money without much return – now that’s a good target group, no? And if it fails, well, you’ve learned your lesson as well. But who knows: maybe you’re campaign will be the next shooting star in crowdfunding heaven!
Good luck! And don’t forget: you’re not promoting your real, private self – but the professional one. That’s a big difference.