Getting your freelance WordPress business up and running can be an exciting time. It’s your chance to break out of the nine-to-five grind and build something you can be proud of.
But the feeling of excitement is often short-lived. It usually doesn’t take more than a few days for the realization to sink in that building a freelance WordPress business is going to take way more time and effort than you first imagined. You’re going to need a way to attract and retain new clients as quickly and as consistently as possible.
You might be wondering, “Which marketing activities should I be focusing on and which efforts are most likely to help me grow my business?”.
Well, you’re in luck because that’s exactly what we’re going to be covering today – a closer look at a few different big picture marketing strategies you can employ in your quest to grow your freelance WordPress business.
What Do You Stand For?
Before you spend even one second trying to market your services, you need to figure out what you do. I don’t mean “I’m a WordPress developer” or “I design WordPress websites”. I mean what do you really do to provide value to your clients? How do you help their business?
A quick search on Upwork for WordPress developers produced thousands of possibilities. I stopped clicking next at around page 200. With ten people per page, that puts the list of potential freelance developers at well over 2,000 on this site alone. The point being, there is a lot of competition.
One of best ways to rise above the competition is to clearly differentiate yourself and your services. Instead of being a WordPress developer or designer, become the go-to person in a specific niche market.
Once you narrow down your niche and become more focused on providing a value to a target clientele, the number of competitors decreases exponentially. If you’d like to focus more on this aspect of your marketing strategy, you can do so by learning how to make your competition irrelevant.
Be Everywhere, But Be Smart
Marketing in obscurity doesn’t work. However, neither will spending your time marketing where your potential clients can’t be found. Let’s not dismiss this strategy quite yet, though, because it’s still relevant when applied correctly.
If you literally try be everywhere, you’ll stretch yourself too thin. Do you have time to manage Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram and your blog? Probably not. The thought of managing all those different channels can make even the most efficient time-management expert nervous.
The good news is you don’t need to be on all those different platforms because your customers aren’t either.
This brings us back to our initial task of deciding what you stand for and picking your niche. Part of that process involves learning where your customers spend their time. Which social media platforms do they hand out on and how do they interact with the people, places and entities that are important to them?
Once you’ve figured this out, your objective is to be everywhere that your potential clients are. Pick the top two or three platforms and focus all your efforts there. Provide value, be helpful and interact with your audience. Be everywhere, but be smart about it.
Don’t Aim for a Perfect Online Presence
Obviously, having a website is important. However, it’s only one small piece of your marketing plan. The speed of execution is critical in getting your freelance business off the ground. Unless you’re generating revenue and profit, the lifespan of your business will be short-lived.
Too many freelancers spend an inordinate amount of time in the planning phase – designing the perfect website, messing with their pricing structure and writing the ideal about page.
One of the best ways to develop an awesome digital presence for your business is by committing to improvement. Given the importance of an online presence, don’t you think it makes sense to spend time improving your digital presence each week?
Instead of aiming for perfection right out of the gate, commit to making small continuous improvements on your website copy, your sales pages, your auto-responders and your social profiles. Spend a small, predetermined period of time each week improving just one thing.
Can you imagine the difference you’ll be able to make after 52 weeks of small improvements? Plus, you’ll have the added bonus of being able to spend more time sooner on the things that are most important – attracting and retaining new clients.
Work for Free, but Never at a Discount
The idea of working for free or even pro bono is something that should be undertaken with great caution. It’s a slippery slope and not one where you want to risk getting stuck for any length of time.
To be avoided at all costs is the habit of discounting your services based upon a client’s inability to afford your fees. It’s one thing to reduce your fees in conjunction with deliverables; it’s another to reduce them because a client can’t afford you.
The day you begin offering to discount your services is the day you’ll begin fostering your reputation as a WordPress professional who will negotiate on price. If that’s how you want to market yourself, there is nothing wrong with that. However, I would suggest that in the long term a strategy which aligns your fees with your value will provide more longevity.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that any unpaid work should be on your terms. An altruistic approach is fine as long as it’s done for the right reasons. And as bad as it may sound, sometimes taking on work pro bono can provide great exposure – putting your best foot forward for a great cause can be time and energy well spent in terms of marketing.
Reach Out to Your Networks
Nothing beats good old-fashioned elbow grease. Sometimes it’s much easier to gravitate towards the marketing activities that require more of a passive effort. It’s perfectly normal, we all do it. However, if you want to make real progress, especially when you’re first getting started, focus on the marketing activities that are not so easy.
When it comes to marketing, hitting the pavement or picking up the telephone will produce results that far and away exceed anything that is more passive in nature. In a digital world, a lot of people have forgotten what this really looks like.
Reaching out to your networks means calling people who you think might be open to the value that you provide. It means calling the people in your circle of influence who are natural networkers to let them know you’re freelancing.
Networking can also mean meeting with people in person over lunch or coffee – or taking an influencer in your field out to dinner. Don’t just focus on target clients either, as a freelancer, becoming friends with the big player in your market can produce some interesting opportunities.
Networking is rarely easy, compared to a tweet or status update, it takes a lot of time and effort. However, in a digital world, it can go a long way towards growing your WordPress business more quickly. Too many people seem to have forgotten that service businesses are built on relationships.
Be Present on Job Boards
The thought of listing your services on various job boards may send shivers down your spine. With so much competition in one place it can be difficult to stand out from the pack – but don’t waste your time worrying about that. It’s more important to just be in the game. Look at it from the perspective of a fisherman. If you don’t have your line in the water, your chances of catching a fish are zero.
Listing your freelance business among hundreds of low-cost operators can make it tempting devalue your services but don’t make that mistake. In fact, don’t change a single thing about your marketing approach.
Stay true to your well-defined target market, your core services, your pricing structure, and your sales copy. Don’t become something you’re not just because the platform has changed.
Promote Your Content
Content creation is one of the marketing strategies that too many WordPress freelancers get wrong. Left to its own devices, content marketing is slow to yield results. It can be so slow that many people abandon the strategy altogether – but that’s not the right answer either.
Creating content in an effort to market your services requires a more proactive approach. It’s one thing to write a post or create a video and click publish. However, if a tree falls in the forest will anybody hear it? The same question applies to your content – it needs to be promoted through the connections you’ve established and the various channels that you participate in.
As a WordPress freelancer, there is a good chance that time isn’t on your side. You need to generate cash flow and you need to do it quickly. Being proactive about promoting your content means you’re no longer waiting for people to discover you on their own time. By sharing your content in situations where doing so is appropriate and helpful you’ll increase your odds of getting in front of people who need your help.
We’ve covered six different ideas in this post – many of which are things that most WordPress freelancers don’t give much thought to. It’s easy to get caught up in marketing activities that do little to grow your business.
The strategies that produce the greatest results are focused and proactive. Be crystal clear about what you do and who you do it for. Take action quickly – don’t spend too much time on things like getting your website perfect.
With those initial big picture details sorted out, it’s time to make sure you’re getting in front of the right prospects, but don’t wait for them to come to you. Instead, network, produce and share helpful content, be in the places where work is available (job boards). If you’re going to take on pro bono work, be selective and find something that not only benefits a great cause but provides you with exposure too.
If you frequently network as a way to promote your WordPress business, how do your results compare to your more passive marketing efforts? Do you do any pro bono work for charitable causes and if so, have you found it beneficial your business?
Image credit: Tarchyshnik Andrei / Shutterstock.com