Be your brand
Define the look and feel of your freelance company. Find your niche and focus directly on that product solely. It is easy to try to be all things to all clients in the beginning to find work. Instead, be the best at one thing instead of mediocre at too many things. If you are a writer, decide what medium you will write – such as blogging. Define your brand image specifically around the work you want. This includes every facet of running your business. If you want to be known for always meeting deadlines and working well with others, then your brand must portray that sense.
Tell all your friends what you do
Your friends and relatives will usually advocate your skills for you, but they need to truly understand what it is you do. Be sure you are educating your friends by letting them know first, that you are available and actively looking for work and second, what type of work you are looking for. They need to know more than you are a writer; they need to know what type of writing and what industry of writing you prefer.
Network, Network, Network
Join the local Chamber of Commerce and attend any of the various events. These social events are made up of other business representatives in the city and this is a perfect opportunity to get your brand name out there to others in the area. Also, be on the looking of anyone you could team up with to help recommend your services. If you are great at web design but not the greatest writer, pair up with a writer so the two of you can both take on a project together. This is a preference if you like to collaborate on projects.
Be on the lookout for any other organization to join. Some might have a cost but others may not. Look at who the members are, if the website hosts a job board, and how often the organization hosts events. These events can help you learn from others in the industry and could lead to tips for your own business.
An easy way to show the world what you know is to keep a blog. By hosting a professional blog, write about your niche topic. This shows the depth of your knowledge in the field. When a potential client reads your work, this will be proof that you will get the job done because you know your craft. Decide how many times a week you will post to your blog. Your readers will come to expect a blog that is regularly updated by someone in the profession.
Research and comment on other blogs
Take the time to see what others are writing about your niche. Always stay current in the latest information in your field. Also, write comments whenever you can that are productive and show your knowledge or thank the author for their post. Commenting allows you the opportunity to leave your name and website link so others may click back to your site. Acknowledging other blogs helps gain community trust with is important for networking.
Create a professional Facebook page
Keeping a professional page separate from a personal page is a great way to keep your professional image sharp. Most blog posts automatically update your facebook status to help your readers know there has been a blog update. Use your personal page to invite all your friends to like your page. Friend other professionals as well as potential clients.
Join Twitter and twitter chats
The benefit of twitter is you can follow whoever you want and they do not have to follow you back – at least right away. This gives you an avenue to follow others in your niche field. If you are an editor, start following publishing companies. Also follow other editors. Many will post links to their professional blogs that will give you tips. I have found regular clients through Twitter just by chatting with them.
Mail out a sales letter
Create an advertising flyer that explains what you do. You can also include testimonials from previous employers. Highlight the benefits a company will have from using your services. Mail these fliers out to every business professional that might have a need for someone in your line of work. Do not include pricing information, but be sure to include your contact information and possibly a business card if you have one.
Freelancers take on a variety of projects at the same time. The way to keep ahead is to understand your limitations and know what your calendar looks like at all times. There are different methods depending on your own style, but find one and stick with it. When I take on a new deadline, I use an online calendar and piece out mini-deadlines so I can stay on pace and am not left at the last minute with more than I can handle. Understanding what each week looks like allows me to keep track of what new projects I can take on. Always have your calendar with you and be ready to schedule new consultations. With proper networking, these could happen anywhere.
Dress professional and keep a schedule
You might have always dreamed of working in your pajamas and this might be nice on occasion, but people act how they dress. If you take the extra few moments to dress for work, you will find you work harder and accomplish more during the work day. The phone voice is more professional and you can be ready to meet a new client. Sticking to a regular schedule during the workday helps keep the balance between work and home. It is too easy for a freelancer to always feel they are on the clock and never get out of the mindset. This can lead to burnout too quickly. Keeping to a schedule and separating home and work keep you wanting to increase your profile and seek out new projects. Friends and those you network with will be able to tell if you are a burned out freelancer and might not send work your way. Keep yourself professional and wanting the work.