Internet marketing for freelance designers

The internet is one of the most effective promotional mediums available to you. Internet promotion can be cheap, it can be highly personal, and it enables you to reach thousands of people with minimal effort.

It’s also a good vehicle for exhibiting your talents. In fact, I regularly hire new freelance designers on the strength of their online portfolio—if they present their services persuasively on their websites, I don’t always insist on face-to-face meetings.

If you’ve got good material in your repertoire, you should have a good website to present it. And if you’ve got a good website, it makes sense that you make people aware of it.

There are two ways to exploit your website to its full potential. Either you make yourself accessible to website browsers by optimizing your website’s exposure on search engines and major sites, or you buy a data list of potential clients and present your website directly to people in an email campaign.

Cracking the search engines.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is perhaps the cheapest way of getting your online portfolio noticed, but it takes time and energy to creep up to the top pages of the major search engines. Think of SEO is an investment in the future of your business. It should be an ongoing process you continually chip away at, so that one day, when a prospective client types the name of your city and the word ‘designer’ into Google, your name heads the list.

The success of your SEO efforts will rely on having a flexible website with several niche focuses. In search engine terms, the standard homepage-heavy format does not make for a Googlable site. If you want a high quantity of quality hits, your website should have pages of targeted and useful content that responds to a variety of niche keyword searches.

To get maximum exposure on the Net, you need to know what your target browsers are searching for and offer content that meets their needs.

Announcing your offer.
Direct Email campaigns can offer more immediate results. It is a very pleasant feeling to see scores of reply emails in your inbox, just minutes after sending out your email. But that comes at the price—around $1,500 USD (£800 GBP) for a medium-sized email campaign—which most freelancers can’t afford to pay on a regular basis, especially when there is no guarantee you’ll get a return on your investment.

The success of your email campaign will rely heavily on the strength of your list. If your business has a highly targeted business offer, your task in finding the right list will be a lot easier.

A final word on internet marketing.
Your website copy will play an important role in getting you noticed on the internet. Not only should your copy be riddled with good keywords, it should also provide browsers with a good reason to make return visits or enquire about your services. You need a balance of informative content to lure target browsers, and sales-oriented copy to convince browsers they need your services.

A common pitfall made by freelancers is to use their internet presence to exhibit elaborately designed websites with minimal copy. But the marketing-savvy freelancer will put an emphasis on copy as well as an emphasis on design. After all, it is the copy that talks to the browser and offers reasons to click through and explore your site.

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The above article is adapted from Shaun Crowley’s new book The Freelance Designer’s Self-Marketing Handbook, available for download at www.marketing-designers.com

The Freelance Designer’s Self-Marketing Handbook shows you how to:

  • Develop a persuasive business offer.
  • See your best ever results from prospecting.
  • Write a hard-working website.
  • Get your business into the newspapers.
  • Build a reputation as ‘designer of choice.