The freelance workforce is growing rapidly. Terms like gig economy have entered everyday usage, and digital nomad is now a career path that many aspire to. But as the number of freelancers increases, competition also increases. The professional freelancer needs to constantly set themselves apart from the crowd. Below are a few tips for positioning yourself to make the most of your freelance digital marketing career.
Understanding the Freelance Market
The number of people engaged in freelance work is staggering. According to a 2020 study commissioned by freelance market provider Upwork, 36% of the U.S. workforce, or 59 million people, engaged in freelance work in the previous year, earning over 1 trillion dollars.
Freelancers span every age range and a wide variety of specialties. Adults over the age of 55 account for 26% of the freelance workforce. Millennials, who account for 35% of the total U.S. workforce, are 44% of the freelance workforce. And Gen-Z has even more wholeheartedly engaged in freelance work, and now accounts for 50% of all freelancers.
Freelancing offers a number of benefits, including the ability to work from anywhere, to set the hours you will work and how much you will work, and to walk away from projects that don’t interest you. But freelancing is not without downsides. In addition to the competition, freelancing comes without benefits or any income guarantees. And many freelancers find it difficult to concentrate when the beach and a nice umbrella drink are handy.
The majority of freelancers offer skilled services such as website development, content creation, and digital marketing. Competition for jobs is stiff, but the opportunities for those ready to take them are substantial.
What Exactly is Freelance Digital Marketing?
Freelance digital marketers help companies market their products and services online. Freelancers can work directly with companies, but they frequently work through digital marketing agencies.
Among the services digital marketing agencies (and freelance digital marketers) provide are website creation and optimization, social media marketing campaign development, search engine optimization (SEO), blog content generation, and customer lead generation, among others. To best sell your services to a digital marketing agency, you should have a broad range of skills aligned with these opportunities. And better yet if you have an established portfolio of work demonstrating your abilities. You need a unique value proposition.
Required Skills for Freelance Digital Marketers
While each job has its own needs and requirements, there are a few skills that no freelance digital marketer should be without. SEO is at the top of the list. You would be hard-pressed to find an ad for a digital marketing freelancer that doesn’t ask for SEO skills. And the reason is simple — just as you are trying to develop a resume and portfolio that set you apart, SEO is one of the primary tools marketing agencies rely on to set their clients apart from the competition.
Good writing skills are also a necessity. Whether direct marketing emails, short social media posts, or fully-featured websites, you need to be able to create content that is engaging and error-free.
Time management is also crucial for effective freelancers. You must be able to ignore distractions and meet deadlines without spinning your wheels. Many content creation jobs pay on a per word basis, so the faster you get a project done, the more you make per hour.
You also need to be able to communicate well with your clients and be responsive when they need to contact you. Nothing destroys an employer’s confidence faster than an inability to reach a freelancer when they need to.
Communication is particularly important if you are a digital nomad in a different time zone from your client. Make sure they know when you are available, and find ways to be available when your clients need you.
5 Ways to Stand Out When Pitching to a Digital Marketing Agency
Alright, you understand the pros and cons and you have the skills, now how do you get the attention of a digital marketing agency?
Attempting to be all things to all potential employers will likely not lead to many opportunities. Perform an internet search for “jack of all trades, master of none” and you will quickly see that potential employers are firm believers in this mantra. Claim to be an expert in everything does nothing to distinguish you from the crowds of others claiming the same thing.
When you can focus on a specialty and demonstrate expertise to potential employers, you quickly become a more valuable commodity.
2. Customize and Personalize
Remember that your job is to solve your client’s problems, not to tell them all about everything you have ever done for other people. Tailor your pitch to both the client’s specific needs and tell them how your abilities will address their needs.
Do not rely on template emails or proposals when responding to job postings. Invest the extra time to create customized proposals. You will quickly find that it does not require an excessive amount of extra effort and that it will pay off in the long run.
3. Visualize (Build a portfolio)
Having a portfolio of completed work is essential. And you should put as much effort into creating your portfolio as you would put into a client project. Your portfolio establishes your credibility.
But if you don’t always have a perfect example of your work, do not let that deter you from pitching for work that interests you. Consider whether you can create a sample that you can provide the potential client. Sometimes they just need proof of what you can do.
In addition to being responsive to client calls and providing quality work products, you should also be professional in more mundane matters like invoicing and accepting payment. After all, freelancing is your business.
Consider using cost-effective platforms that help freelancers manage all aspects of their business from managing customer lists to building portfolios and pitch books to billing.
Developing a solid client base without networking is a little like baking bread with no yeast — you can make something out of it, but it probably won’t have the volume you desire. Talk to your existing clients about other opportunities. Talk to clients that didn’t hire you to see if they are aware of opportunities more suited to your skillset. The bigger your network, the more opportunities you will have.
Welcome to Freelancing
Freelancing is likely to be a growing industry in years to come. And if you just put in a little effort, you can develop stable and lucrative client bases, allowing you to earn money on your own terms. Improve your chances for success by utilizing AND.CO's freelancer tools to manage your growing freelance business.