Are you tired of cold pitching for clients, chasing dud leads, and settling for low pay? If so, you’re in the right place. This blog post is going to be a 1-stop shop for everything you need to know about inbound marketing for freelancers.
Hey there, I’m Jill Wise, conversion copywriter, brand and marketing strategist, and business coach. Over the years, I’ve worked with and coached hundreds of entrepreneurs, helping them make good money online. That includes guiding others as they grow and scale to $10k months and $6-figure years… And WAY beyond that.
When I first started freelancing, I was in the same boat you’re in. Seriously, I was flipping falafels and writing in my off hours just trying to get by. Not cute.
I knew this lifestyle of low-paying gigs, cold pitching for everything, and swinging between feast and famine wasn’t for me. But it took me years to figure out how to make a full-time income freelancing. I don’t want it to take you nearly as long as it did for me to figure out how to make this freelance business really work for me.
Over time, I cracked the code and transitioned from cold pitching to running a 6-figure copywriting business solely fueled by inbound leads (although, I do still love falafels). The business has grown year over year since I went full-time in 2018, and that’s all from inbound marketing.
So I know a thing or two about how this works!
In this blog, I’ll share insights into marketing for freelancers, and how to attract dream clients effortlessly.
Too often, I see freelancers leaving money on the table because they avoid marketing. They don’t build an inbound sales pipeline, don’t create content consistently for platforms their target clients hang out on, and just don’t put in any effort.
And that shows in both their revenue and how they spend their time.
They waste hours researching and cold pitching people they want to work with, just to hear crickets in return. Instead of building a marketing and sales system that they can rely on for years to come.
If you sense any sass in my voice while reading this, it’s because I’m so passionate about teaching inbound marketing for freelancers—I know that this stuff has the power to change your business, and therefore your life.
The good news for you is that if you’re sitting here, Googling how to do marketing for freelancers, you’re already ahead. If you put in the work to set up your marketing and sales systems right, you’ll be able to see results and bypass all those who are still avoiding the task of marketing.
When I finally dedicated myself to building, refining, and filling the top of my inbound sales pipeline with a strategic content marketing plan, my business changed. Since then, I’ve brought in hundreds of thousands in revenue just from this simple yet effective marketing channel.
And I know that you can do it too.
Okay, I get it. You’re tired! You want business to feel easy. You have so many responsibilities on your list and adding more feels impossible. Plus, where do you even start with marketing?
The ironic thing is that many freelancers already know the basics of marketing because of the work they help clients with. That means you maybe aren’t starting from scratch! Leverage the skills you have and treat yourself like a client. Especially if you’re a copywriter like me, you should know at least a bit about marketing. If you don’t yet, then you have homework to do.
But let’s accelerate the process so you don’t have to waste a bunch of time figuring it out.
To scale your business, you have to break free from cold pitching and using referrals as your main lead generators. When you do, you won’t feel like you’re constantly struggling, AND you’ll set yourself up to take on more clients and make more money as a freelancer. That’s what it’s like to have a sustainable freelance business that’s set up to scale.
I talk about my BUILD, GROW, and SCALE framework a lot. Step 1 is building the marketing and sales systems you need to grow.
And almost always, I recommend that freelancers start by creating an inbound sales pipeline that revolves around:
And that ☝️ can be really simple if you let it be. That’s really all that goes into my sales pipeline, but it helps me convert inbound leads on autopilot, with very minimal effort from me. It’s a low-lift marketing strategy for freelancers.
When your sales pipeline is ready, you can start filling the top of it with content marketing strategies and tactics.
I’ve mentioned that you need to have a sales pipeline before you get started with marketing. Let’s break down the components of a functioning inbound sales pipeline so we’re on the same page about what that means.
1. Aligned Brand Messaging: Clearly define who you serve, how you help them, and how to speak to them for maximum conversion. If you talk directly to the people you want to serve, those will be the people that show up. This should also consider (and include) your brand personality!
2. Strategic Website Copy: Write compelling website copy that encourages visitors to take the next step, whether it’s contacting you or making an inquiry. It should also always incorporate that brand personality that attracts and repels the right leads. (More on this later.)
3. Inquiry Form: Have a pre-qualifying form, but ensure your website copy also contributes to pre-qualifying leads. There’s a very specific way you can organize your website and present information to help leads self-qualify. This ensures you don’t get leads coming in that aren’t a good fit for you and what you do.
4. CRM (Customer Relationship Management): Use a CRM like Dubsado to manage leads and clients efficiently. This keeps your workflow efficient, freeing up your time so you do only the most important things. Plus, it looks more professional to your clients, who are paying you good money.
5. Documented Onboarding Process: Create a consistent client onboarding process, automating where possible for time efficiency. That way you don’t waste time reinventing the wheel. And if done well, this will help you close new clients—then also make them feel really good about choosing to work with you even before you kick off the project.
6. Marketing Strategy: Drive traffic to the top of your funnel through an effective content marketing strategy. This sounds scary, but I promise it’s not. I’ll cover the basics below.
Once your low-lift sales pipeline is in place, it’s time to start filling the top!
Let’s make a few things clear… In order to develop and execute a marketing strategy as a freelancer, you do NOT need the following.
All this can be summed up in a simple PSA: Marketing for freelancers doesn’t have to be hard.
My recommendation for developing a simple inbound marketing strategy: Choose one long-form content channel and one social channel to consistently showcase your expertise. Whether it’s a blog, podcast, or LinkedIn, the goal is to drive all traffic to your email list, where you can nurture leads over time. Even if your leads aren’t ready to reach out right away, they want to subscribe to stay in touch, then connect later.
Avoid trying to show up everywhere all the time. You’ll either get burnout out or will lose steam quickly. Especially if you’re just figuring out the basics of marketing at the same time. Start small and simple, then grow from there.
In the beginning, I started with Instagram and my blog. I posted on Instagram every single day without fail for an entire YEAR to gain momentum. It worked! You don’t have to be that intense about it, but you could be. Those early blogs and Instagram posts are embarrassing now, but the point is that they worked. And I grew from there.
My email list I added in a little later, but it quickly became my favourite place to show up. I email my subscribers 2-4 times each week now and have above-average open rates. It’s a nice break showing up in a more personal way like this—in their inboxes!
Now, here’s the often-overlooked element for all of the above. This is the part that so many others miss, and what me and the team help clients with…
It’s your strategic brand messaging and personality. I’ve experienced firsthand the impact of showing up authentically online. When I finally started showing up as my authentic (yet on-brand) self on the internet, my business really took off. Why? Because I was finally connecting with ideal clients who are HUMANS on the other side of the screen.
So take this reminder to embrace your personality, let it shine through, and attract clients who resonate with you while repelling those who don’t. It’s not about being like everyone else; it’s about standing out. This is super important if you choose to market your freelance business as a personal brand too.
Okay, that was a lot of information! Let’s pause and take an audit of your current efforts.
What does client acquisition look like for you RIGHT NOW? Do you have a sales pipeline in place? Is your marketing consistent, and are you authentically representing yourself online? These questions are crucial as you transition towards an inbound strategy.
If you want to dig deeper into this, I have 2 resources for you. The first is a free guide and workbook called 4 Steps to Profit. Hundreds of freelancers have leveraged the lessons in this download to start positioning themselves and learning the importance of a simple sales pipeline.
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