How to Market Yourself as a Freelance Web Developer
The continuing dominance of our digital landscape has meant websites have become a dominant media. It is now essential for businesses, organizations, and many individuals to have a central online home. This need, along with frequent updating and upgrading, means web developers are in high demand. This doesn’t look to be changing any time soon, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting there’ll be 13% growth in development jobs this decade.
However, this doesn’t mean scoring these jobs as a freelancer is a walk in the park. The sector is competitive. Though you may have a set of great skills and creative ideas, this is often not enough. As a freelancer, you not just need to be seen by potential new clients, but maintain a presence. This requires a commitment to marketing.
Let’s take a look at a few of the ways you can successfully market yourself.
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Know Your Marketplace
It’s difficult to market well if you don’t know who you are marketing to. It can be tempting, particularly at the beginning of your freelance career, to try to appeal to everyone. However, this is likely to be less impactful than narrowing your intentions a little.
Start with taking stock of your skills. What do you have to offer your clients? If you have specific expertise in ecommerce sites, you could focus on retailers. If you specialize in multimedia, you might be seeking businesses that capitalize on their content. This process is about researching which industries are most in need of services you excel in. Take time to understand what their needs and challenges are so you can address them. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to target your marketing at one type of client. However, each type of potential employer should be treated differently. When you understand what each type of client is looking for, you can pitch more effectively.
Once you’ve established who needs your services, you also need to know where they’re looking. At the beginning of your freelance career, it can be difficult to establish this. But there are some common places freelance web developers tend to find work. This might include your personal network — many business owners seek professional recommendations. If you’re targeting the film and animation industry, you’ll often find clients scouring social media networks for portfolios. You need to research where clients go so you can direct your marketing efforts in the right places.
Demonstrate Your Strengths
Many web developers have multiple skills. This might particularly be the case if you’re self-taught. It’s important, though, not to produce marketing depicting you as an all-area dabbler. Focus on creating marketing materials demonstrating your key areas of strength, including soft skills. Businesses want to know what you can achieve for them quickly, on budget, and to the highest degree of quality.
You can start by producing content — blogs, videos, and social media posts— showcasing your expertise in each specific skill area. This shows not only that you can do the work, but you can communicate why your approach is effective. If you can do this confidently, it’s likely to instill the same confidence in potential clients. This can also be a good approach to take with the portfolios you email to clients and host on your website. Rather than divide your examples into projects, you should parse them into skill sets. This allows clients to easily access the abilities they’re looking for and see what you’re capable of. It can also be worth setting up each skill set as a microsite you can link to in relevant social media marketing posts or email outreach.
When you’re creating this content or performing outreach, it’s just as important to remember to represent your strengths honestly. As a freelancer, you are effectively a small business and are subject to regulations and legislation about how you advertise your services. It can be helpful to review resources that highlight the common mistakes around small business marketing and the legal implications of these missteps. Don’t claim to be able to perform any tasks you haven’t had experience in and certainly don’t give the suggestion you’re an expert in anything you’re not. This helps you to avoid legal pitfalls but also garners trust among your growing client base.
Build Your Brand
There is a misconception that branding is largely useful for corporations. But it can be a vital part of marketing yourself as a freelance web developer, too. After all, branding is about shaping a business’s image and establishing a connection with the target audience. When a consumer thinks of a certain product or service, companies want them to immediately consider their brand. You should be aiming for the same thing with the industry you’re targeting.
Start simply. Formalize the qualities you want your clients to associate with your business. This isn’t just about the skills you offer — although those certainly come into it. You need to consider what experience you think your clients should take away from their time with you. Look at the ethical values that are central to the way you operate. You’re also a unique contributor in your field; what aspects of your personality would you like to express?
You can then start to shape your freelance website, portfolio, and social media platforms to reflect this. You may even want to create a logo and other design concepts that are representative of your brand ideals. From here, you should aim to achieve brand visibility. Post on forums and social media channels. Create some ads that communicate your unique identity in the web development space. Establish the values of your brand in your email outreach to clients.
As the marketplace for web development grows it is also becoming more competitive. As a freelancer, you need to begin your marketing with an understanding of your target clientele. A clear representation of your areas of strength can help you to make an impact, which is then supported by some solid brand building. It takes some additional resources and effort, but effective marketing can assist you in achieving a thriving career.