This article has been contributed by Owen James.
Freelancing is an excellent way to achieve that freedom you have always wanted. Undoubtedly, it can – and will – be hard work, but the earning potential, rewards and personal development opportunities are endless.
However, with an increasing number of professionals taking the leap and falling in love with the freelancing lifestyle, the competition has never been fiercer. You will need to work harder than ever to stand out and win over new customers. Lowering your prices and presenting a well-crafted portfolio might not work as well as you would have thought.
In this comprehensive article, you’ll learn more about the methods that will enable you not just to present yourself as a valid option, but to genuinely stand out from the crowd.
The Days of Cold Outreach Are Over!
Cold outreach, including cold emailing and cold calling, are methods that can work, and freelancers have used them for years. However, the results that you can expect from them vary depending on the nature of your business, your target audience, and the stage at which your business is.
For instance, if you own a local web design agency, cold emailing and calling all businesses in your area can seem spammy and even put off potential customers. People have become wise to calls and emails like this, and some are fed up with them. Why would they open your email when they have ignored every other cold email in their inbox this week?
Cold outreach is also not a good use of your precious time, especially because you need to get in contact with hundreds or even thousands of people while somehow personalizing the message and highlighting the product you offer at the moment. Cold outreach can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack.
So how can you connect with your audience and win their attention – and better yet – their business? The answer is simple (sort of) – you need to stand out from the crowd!
8 Ways New Freelancers Can Stand Out From The Competition To Get More Clients
How do you actually stand out from the crowd? If your business is still young, you are also likely to have a limited budget to play with, so what outstanding idea can you implement?
1. Assess Your Competitors
Firstly, work out who “the crowd” actually is.
Find out who your direct competitors are by:
- doing web searches for your business niche and location
- using SEO tools to see who has similar websites to yours and
- getting in touch with your target audience to find out what brand they currently go to for the products or services you offer.
Once you have your list of competitors, identify:
- what their USPs (unique selling points) are
- any service weaknesses they have
- who their target audience is and
- how they reach them (their marketing tactics).
Carefully determine what your brand’s PODs (points of difference) are and whether you have crossover or different target markets.
For example, your competition might be offering a cheaper service than you, but it may have a negative impact on the environment. Your target audience is sensitive about sustainability, so leverage these insights to highlight the eco sustainable aspect of your product.
2. Know Your Target Market
As you can see from the example above, it’s essential to know your target market. After all, your service should be solving a problem your audience is experiencing. How can you understand what problems they are experiencing if you don’t put yourself in their shoes?
You need to know their demographics – like gender, age and location – plus other important characteristics such as values, motivators, lifestyle, financial situation, personal preferences, purchase behavior, life stage and, most importantly, the problems they wish to solve!
Use these insights to craft buyer personas, which you should refer back to when making most decisions about your brand.
3. Don’t Undersell Yourself
One of the biggest mistakes newbies and first-time freelancers make is setting low prices, believing that this will make potential consumers try them out. But, is this really the kind of client you wish to have? Going cheap is not the solution, especially when you are trying to get your business off the ground and gain respect from high-paying clients.
Instead, stop thinking that the price is the issue – if the service is good, then it is only fair for clients to pay the right price for it!
Undoubtedly, you will always encounter copywriters who might be working for a much lower price than yours is, and some prefer to charge a much higher price and thrive on a few high-paying clients.
Remember that your approach and motivation truly make a difference, and fighting off that Impostor Syndrome is the first step to price yourself right and start winning over better clients!
4. Make It Personal
Have you ever thought about opening an impersonal email that sounds and looks like it has been sent to hundreds or even thousands of people? Probably not. That’s because, in today’s competitive landscape, a standard automated email that does not acknowledge you as a person or does not take into consideration your values is not attractive.
And, because we receive so many of these emails, it has become incredibly easy to spot them. Of course, if the email does not show your name and starts with something along the lines of “Hi there!” you can be sure that the sender did not send this email to just you.
So, you can easily stand out from the competition by researching the people and businesses you’re contacting. A simple Google search will tell you what they’re all about and what type of content and communication style may appeal to them. You can use this knowledge and other email personalization tricks that can convince them to at least open your email – and then you are halfway there!
When crafting your winning email, make sure you speak directly to the recipient, creating a personalized message for them. When doing so, show empathy towards their issues and what they are going through, providing a solution that matches their budgets, values, preferences, and goals.
5. Give to Receive
Selling your products might be the aim here, but it is not the only thing you should communicate to your audience. Indeed, when jotting down the message that will become the tool to sales and success, you should always remember that “give to receive” is the number one rule.
Just asking someone you don’t know to do something for you – like buy your products or services – probably won’t get you the results you were hoping for. Instead, when crafting your email message, lead with value. Or your free offer for them!
Once you have done your audience a favour and you have helped them, they are more likely to invest in your products, sometimes as a way to pay you back. This process is also sped up by the fact that, if you have offered them important information regarding a specific issue, they know they can trust your expertise.
While it can be extremely difficult at first, you should try to get off your mind that you are writing an email to sell something to someone. Rather, what you need to keep remembering throughout the writing process is that you are trying to help these people!
Offer them expert advice, practical help, suggestions to solve a problem, or just encouragement. Naturally, make sure there is a website your audience can use to find you and discover more of your products – but give them the chance to do so!
6. Consider Different Communication Channels
How much time do you have during your busy day to find, open, and read a long cold email sent by a freelancer you don’t know? Probably not much. So, if you want your email to be read, it needs to pack a punch immediately.
You will need to convey your message in a way that is straightforward, to the point and also engaging. Long, plain-text emails won’t help you here. Instead, you should think about including videos, images, and helpful information from different sources. Links to social media pages, Tweets, and photos can also help you hold your reader’s attention for a lot longer.
All that said, you might want to try reaching your target audience via channels other than email. Here are a few to try, depending on your audience’s preferences.
- Use social media to widen your audience. Different platforms appeal to different market segments, so investigate where your target market spends their time.
- Use paper letters instead of emails; since not many people send these letters anymore, you are likely to poke the receiver’s interest at least – and stand out! Of course, this is far more appropriate for older audiences.
- Hold a virtual event, like a seminar, that your audience can access via email. This strategy can help you offer them something of value while enticing them to discover more about your business.
- Contribute to forums and allow potential customers who are already interested in the subject to discover more about you and your business.
- Speak at events and put a face to your brand.
- Start a blog and newsletter to keep your audience interested in your business.
7. Quality Over Quantity
Your strategy should aim at winning over the attention of a few people, the ones more interested in your offer and more likely to commit to a purchase – i.e. your target market.
Ultimately, focusing on the quality of your marketing efforts rather than the number of emails you have been sending out can help you limit wastage of money and time.
If you find yourself simply pumping out emails and posts for the sake of it, go back to your buyer personas. Does your next post address one of their needs or motivations? Is it in line with their lifestyle and values? If not, bin it.
Your conversion rates will increase dramatically if you’re able to successfully connect with your ideal target market, so make sure that’s your main focus.
8. Consistency Is Key
If you want to get clients fast, keep in mind that there’s no easy way to achieve this. Indeed, the only shortcuts you can count on are consistency, hard work, and determination. Avoid putting all of your heart and soul into one tactic, just to give up on it in just a few short days. This can make you feel burnt out and discouraged, while motivation comes from trying harder!
When implementing and tweaking your marketing tactics, it is recommended that you stick to one or two methods without continuously jumping from one to another. Indeed, it takes effort and expertise to craft a unique marketing strategy. Try to master at least one tactic at a time before focusing on a new one.
In business, shortcuts can cause you to skip important steps of growing your brand, making it seem like you are obtaining fast results while you actually have a recipe for disaster! Keep working at it and learn consistency, which is more likely to get you where you need to be and with solid foundations.
There’s no quick and easy way to stand out from the crowd to gain an edge on your competitors. Indeed, as the competitive landscape evolves and develops, you might need to keep finding new different ways to make your brand and business unique.
This on-going challenge can be extremely stimulating but also terrifying! Keep learning and investing in self-development, and you will obtain outstanding results.
About the author: Oliver Andrews is the owner of OA Design services. He has a passion for all things design and SEO. Throughout his life, he has always been very creative. Outside of work he enjoys traveling, fishing, motorbikes, keeping fit and socializing with friends and family.