Be a Savvy Self-Promoting Freelancer

Tip 3: Being a Savvy Self-Promoter

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While mastering one-on-one networking can set you up for success, your ability to promote your services on a larger scale is equally important. In a survey of advertising and marketing executives commissioned by The Creative Group, 65% of respondents rated creative professionals “somewhat effective” at promoting their skills and talents.

A mere 12% considered creatives “very effective” at self-promotion. Yet “very effective” is what you must be to keep the work constant. There are two fairly easy and inexpensive strategies for increasing your visibility.

Hit Send

Emailing a periodic newsletter showcasing your latest work and achievements is a simple way to promote your talents. Although this may feel self-congratulatory, you generally will find that your clients enjoy learning of your latest endeavors, because they may soon be in need of your services.

Including industry news and information will make your newsletter even more appealing. Just remember not to overdo it (one email per month is sufficient) and always give recipients a way to opt out.

Other e-newsletter tips include:
  • Ask permission. Get approval from your clients before publicizing any work you’re doing for them.
  • Keep your newsletter concise. The less people have to scroll, the more likely they’ll read it.
  • Find the right format. Create a simple and user-friendly template for your newsletter. Using the same format will save you time and help you brand your services.
  • Provide links. Supplying links to industry news and events turns your newsletter into a resource.
  • Avoid sloppy copy. Have a friend proofread your work before sending it. Test across platforms. Make your e-newsletter Mac and PC-compatible.

Score Some Ink
Jeff Fisher, engineer of creative identity for Jeff Fisher LogoMotives in Portland, OR, sends news to clients in the form of press releases, which he also transmits to the media. “My clients love it when I promote their projects in my press releases,” Fisher says. “It gives them good exposure and often reminds them if they have a job to get done.” Fisher’s former clients aren’t the only ones to benefit from his PR efforts. He estimates that approximately 40% of his new business stems from media mentions.

Along with sending out periodic press releases, suggesting story ideas that could feature you as an expert can help generate media exposure. You should research local and trade publications, and identify those that are running stories in which you could have been used as a source.

Keep in mind that most local newspapers and magazines target a general audience, so you’re more apt to get coverage if you approach them with topics of broad appeal, not just information about your business. For example, you might offer to provide a local perspective on this year’s Super Bowl ads or ideas for creating innovative wedding invitations or birth announcements. Other tips for working with journalists include:

Pitch like a pro
E-mail a story suggestion, or “pitch,” to the reporter. A brief (one paragraph) message explaining your idea and why it’s newsworthy should be sufficient. Typically, a pitch won’t include pictures, but you might want to include links to your work if it’s relevant to the story. Pay attention to detail. Avoid typos and grammatical errors, which can undermine your credibility.

Consider timing. Journalists work on tight deadlines, so send info when you’ll be available to take reporters’ calls. Don’t email attachments. Unless you know the reporter well or have asked permission to send an attachment, put everything in plain text within the email message.

Avoid jargon or techno-speak. Most media professionals write for a diverse audience and appreciate clear, simple language. Don’t use pressure tactics. If a reporter isn’t interested in a particular story, don’t push it. Instead, ask what types of marketing and design articles he or she may be working on in the future, and offer to serve as a source.

Being featured in the news may not immediately make your phone ring off the hook with new clients, but it will increase your stature in the industry and reinforce your expertise. “Public relations tends to have a snowball effect,” Fisher notes. “For example, the authors of a marketing book for small businesses found out about me through a media mention and featured my work in their publication. Now I get about five clients a month from that book.”

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