The ultimate decision anyone ever makes is based around the knowledge, expertise, experience, and perception of the person, product, or brand. Most freelancers literally start from scratch. (I did). We don’t have any customers, no portfolio, nothing to show off and highlight our skills. What we do have is our knowledge. We have something in which we can educate our potential clients. Content marketing is what we can start doing right from the start. When done right, content marketing for a freelancer will be the biggest money maker.
The origin of the word “freelance” is one of dispute. However the part of which that is agreed on is that it was used to reference a mercenary with a specific skill. That is at the core who freelancers are. Someone with a skill that is demanded of someone else willing to pay for it.
So how does one find someone willing to pay for your skill? Well there are any number of ways, but the biggest money maker is education. Education around your knowledge and being able to convey that to someone else over and over again to show results.
If you are just starting out or struggling with what to write about
How to educate
“How do I do that when I are just starting out?”
Start writing blog posts around the knowledge of your skill. Speak exactly how your potential client would speak, not how you would.
By using the words that someone else uses to describe what you do, you automatically become relatable to them. They feel as if you get them.
“How do I education when I don’t have anyone looking at my website?”
That’s easy, you always have “someone” looking. First of, Google is always looking. So if you are talking in the language that your potential client is, who is using Google to search for their answers, then you have someone looking at your site.
“But I don’t have any clients right now. So how do I know what they are saying to talk like them?”
Ok, this is one that’s a bit of a cop out. You developed your skill at some point. You understand the problem that you solve and how that problem is defined by your client. Think back to sitting in on some of those boring meetings with your manager and how things were worded there. That’s your client speaking.
The best ways to educate
Obviously this is something that can vary depending on you and your business. However by examples is always the best, especially if the solution you offer is complex.
Take a look at what I did optimizing checkout conversions by using Best Buy and Toys R Us.
If you can relate the an example to a real world situation that quite possibly your client may be familiar with, that’s one way of educating them.
Having references to statistics can show evidence to what you are talking about. That’s why so many people throw numbers around.
It sets the tone of the topic you are talking about.
So for example, you hear me talking about how I’ve built my freelance business in a sustainable way and I want you to do the same. Often times I’ll talk about how Forbes states that by 2020 50% of the U.S. workforce will classify themselves as a freelancer. This sets a tone and a mindset that if you are reading this right now, you have time to set yourself up for success now, rather than when everyone else is.
If you are a freelance designer, this probably could not be easier these days. With the advent of Instagram and Pinterest and other social media outlets, you can visually show examples of what you are talking about.
Whether it’s color theory, logo design, brand awareness, etc you can leverage these social media platforms to link back to your site and article. More so, you can start to build your following on these platforms and become an authority in your space.
This is harder to do when you are first starting out. Having a podcast does allow your voice to be heard about your topic. When you bring on guests that reinforce your education, you elevate yourself and build that authority.
However it is much easier to be a guest. When you become a guest on a podcast, you start to educate to their audience. When the host, who presumably has a wide audience brings you on the show, that brings your levels up as an expert in the subject.
This is the easiest but most manual way to educate. Simply jump into conversations on Twitter, Quora, Reddit, Stackoverflow, even Dribbble. Especially conversations around what you do in your freelance business.
This is definitely a long game play, but is the most powerful one. If you continuously add value into these communities you build up that clout. People start seeking you out because you show up with an answer or a link (not necessarily to your site all the time) that addresses a pain point someone has.
It really could take months for this to build up, especially on Reddit and other communities like that. But the idea here is to be community driven. Being able to give back and add value to that community.
Chris Ducker is amazing at providing value all over the place. He is a virtual CEO who runs a very successful location based business, but also has his Virtual Staff Finder, as well as a paid community of entrepreneurs (of which I’m a proud member of).
He does workshops, speaking gigs, podcasts, blogs, webinars, and tons of other types of content of free valuable information that could easily be paid for. So why does he do it. Because he knows that it builds trust with his audience. That trust is something that continuously grows more and more as he pushes out new content.
His main business is a paid membership for content marketing. So why put out this content? It’s the long game again. He knows, like Chris Ducker knows, that being out there providing tremendous value shows a sense of sincerity towards their audience which builds trust.
It builds trust over time because their potential customers are watching them, learning from them, and implementing what they are consuming for free.
So when that time comes to buy, the customer is not even questioning whether to buy or not. It’s a question of what are they not going to be doing tomorrow so that they can consume this paid content to affect their business.
Education is a long game
Don’t make the mistake of always trying to sell. Freelancers often times are bootstrapping their businesses. There isn’t a large wallet that can throw money into paid advertising. There is a time and place for that.
Content marketing as a freelancer though is a steady growth. Putting yourself out there and educating potential clients about the problem you are solving for them will always remain on the web. Those ads won’t unless you are constantly feeding them money.
The best part about content marketing is that it shows who you are. Folks are pretty wise on the internet. They can spot a scam a million web pages away. If you are not all in then it will off as disingenuous.
Being all in means being consistent with your timing of the articles, being available on the social media platforms, and just in the way you present yourself online and offline.
These are all elements in who you are as a brand. Definitely another topic for another article. However it does bring everything that you are and do together holistically.
So for any freelancer of course getting clients is the immediate need to grow the business and keep the lights on, but take a few minutes out of everyday and provide some education by way of content marketing. Trust me, it’ll pay off in spades. It may not be your money maker now, but I guarantee it will be your biggest money maker down the road if done right!