Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
While larger companies typically have dedicated staff and budgets to devote to marketing their business, freelancers often have fewer resources to allocate to these efforts. However, there are ways to market your freelance business effectively, no matter the service or product you provide. Some require a small capital outlay, while others are completely free. Consider these strategies to market your freelance business.
Build an impressive business website
If you don’t have a professional presence online, then you’re doing yourself a disservice. A strong web presence will help convince future clients of your abilities, show them whom you’ve worked with previously and give them information on your background.
Making a professional-looking website isn’t hard — there are lots of small-business website builders that are incredibly easy to use. These platforms offer different templates that you can use, some of which are geared toward showcasing portfolios and clients, and others to feature physical products. Depending on what kind of freelance business you have, you may be able to leverage free plans; however, if you sell products or services that can be purchased online, you'll likely need to pay for e-commerce functionality.
Learn search engine optimization
Content marketing is a big piece of the acquisition puzzle for many businesses, both large corporations and freelancers alike. But writing a blog post isn’t necessarily going to get you exposure to your desired audience or customer base. You need a strategy to get this content in front of the right people.
There’s where search engine optimization, or SEO, comes in. Strong SEO — the practice of incorporating certain highly searched keywords and phrases into your content — can help surface your content to the people who are looking for it. Content marketing software can help automate this process and even suggest content using artificial intelligence tools.
Build business profiles on popular platforms
Keeping in mind the importance of search engines to expose your business to potential clients, you’ll want to look into setting up business profiles on popular platforms. Among these are Google Business Profile, Angi and Yelp, as well as more freelance-specific platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr and TaskRabbit. Even if people aren’t necessarily searching for you directly on these platforms, they all rank highly on search engines, which can surface your profile when people search for you or the services you provide.
For an extra boost, encourage your current and former clients to leave you a review. Many people choose which businesses to work with based on testimonials and reviews. Of course, you can’t expect only positive feedback, but addressing any negative reviews quickly and professionally can help make sure all of your customers feel heard.
Maintain a robust social media presence
Social media marketing can be especially effective for small businesses. You can use platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and LinkedIn to showcase the work you’ve done for clients or products you’ve created. Think of these platforms as an extension of your business website.
As you’re using social media for your business, remember to keep your business and personal profiles separate, and keep your business branding — including name, logos, font choices and colors — consistent across all of your channels, business profiles and website.
Market in your community
Although you may serve clients across the country (or world), there’s a lot of opportunity in local marketing. As a small-business owner in your community, you have an inherent connection to others near you — both residents and other small-business owners.
Marketing in your neighborhood might be as simple as posting a flyer on a community board at a popular restaurant or leaving a stack of business cards at another small business (with permission). You can also join local small-business coalitions, as well as industry-specific groups.
Reach out to your target market
You’ve likely identified a target market for your services, so start reaching out to them via email marketing, direct mail or phone calls. First, develop a strong pitch about what your freelance business has to offer, your strengths, experience and how you can help them. Make sure to keep your pitch brief but informative, and run it past a friend or family member for feedback.
There are few people who are comfortable marketing themselves in a room full of strangers, but it's also a great way to promote your business. Even if you don’t meet new clients, word-of-mouth referrals and contacts are hugely important in opening doors for a new business.
In addition to industry events, consider some alternative approaches, such as posting on local sites such as Nextdoor to let people know about your business. Additionally, LinkedIn can be a powerful marketing tool. Both posting and participating in relevant industry groups can help increase your brand awareness and establish you as an expert in your field.
Consider advertising platforms
There’s a lot of power in advertising platforms such as Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Twitter Ads and LinkedIn Ads, which enable you to create ads — either just with copy or with visual assets, too — to market yourself to their audiences.
The biggest advantage of using these services is that you can drill down on audiences, creating a targeted reach to those whom you think will be most interested in your freelance business. For example, if you focus locally, you can “geotarget” local users, or choose to have ads only show up to people in certain industries.
A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.