Being an independent marketer is often difficult. Marketing yourself and maintaining ethical boundaries is sometimes also very challenging. Here are some tips to get you started. Be fair to your clients and to yourself.
- You SHOULD get paid for all your work.
As a fairly long time freelance marketer, I have experienced every kind of client there is. The over-bearing clients, the under-bearing clients and the clients that are just not happy with anything you do. Regardless of the type of client, you should get paid for your work. I know freelancers who literally give away their design skills to keep work. That does nothing for you. Valuate yourself fairly and give clients a fair price and they will stay. Even if they do leave, it’s okay.
- Develop a business plan.
I was fairly new as a freelancer when I figured out that the freelance design industry was just too up and down for my liking. I developed a business plan, although not a formal one, that included a way to give my clients value for their money, and include monthly billing so that I can maintain my bills. A business plan, even a loose one, will give you an idea of where you have been and where you are going. There are some great free plans online. I have found www.GoForthInstitute.com to be invaluable. They have checklists and business plans.
- You can’t make everyone happy and it has nothing to do with you.
Some people will not like your style of design or the way you do marketing. It’s a fact. You can be the most brilliant marketing person on the planet and there will be someone who is a critic. So what! Get over it. If the client does not want you, don’t want them. There is a difference between good customer service and desperation.
- You need active education in marketing and design.
Trends change. One of the biggest things I do for my customers is study every day for at least fifteen minutes. Whether it is design trends, seo trends or new technology. I study. I keep my clients on the cutting edge (even if they don’t know it). I can see changes in marketing at least a couple months in advance most of the time. I have a monthly subscription to Lynda.com and I use it.
- DON’T sell Social Media as Marketing.
Social Media, even paid Facebook and Twitter advertising is not conversion related for me. It does accomplish several marketing functions. It is name recognition, it can lead to conversions, it does keep your audience present and interested in what you have to say and it does contribute to SEO (although not a lot). When I have social media clients, which I have quite a few, I always explain this to them in detail. Social media can lead to sales. That is an absolute possibility, however the expectations that it will suddenly lead to thousands of dollars in sales when you can only spend $50 a month on ad campaigns is unrealistic and only leads your clients to believe you don’t know what the hell you are talking about.
- Digital Marketing is NOT all about Social Media.
There are many things that go into a good comprehensive social media plan. My favorite is the Brandeo Template. The first is understanding that no one form of marketing is going to get you amazing results. Results come from a balanced and thought out digital marketing plan. It includes equal parts of SEO, Email Marketing, Social Media and yes even Direct Marketing. It’s a big picture kind of deal. When you can only sell one part of the equation, you are hurting your clients and yourself.
- Remember the basics of marketing.
Product, Promotion, Price, People, and Place (the 5 p’s). Often clients will have two or three parts of the equation and on limited occasions four. Rarely, if they have all five, why would they need you if they did have all five.
- Social Media is about Relationships! Oh wait…so is MARKETING!
People are an important part of this equation. The trend that I see in marketing is that people are really tired of automated everything. They want to know the owner; they want to know the employees. They want to know who they are buying from! Make sure that comes across in your marketing.
- Avoid tunnel vision in Social Media.
Yes, you sell a very specific product to a very specific audience. That audience is interested in more than just your product. Remember, a good ratio in social media is 30/30/30. 30% human interest (that would be things that your followers are interested in that aren’t about you), 30% expert opinion (this would be people that are considered experts in the field you are in and hey…it’s okay if they do the same thing you do), and 30% self promotion (that would be you).
- Don’t overcharge for service, but don’t undercharge either.
I know freelancers that will charge $10,000 for a Word Press website with no customization and no additional programming. Can you get away with it once in awhile? Yes. You can. However, that doesn’t mean it is fair or ethical. For myself, I would rather charge a fair price than over-charge and lose the client. Long term relationships are more important to me. And guess what? They are usually more important to your clients too. Now for any clients reading this…understand that, special programming does take time and it does take money. If you want special things on your site that aren’t readily available, be fair about that. Programming isn’t an easy job, I know a little and I can tell you the tediousness of it alone is enough to make me go batty after a few hours.