If you've been guilty of not
marketing every day, it is probably because you'd rather be working on
your client's project. The reason: any time you stop work on your
client's project to do your own marketing, you don't get paid.
Marketing is non-billable time.
If someone paid freelancers
to do their marketing, they'd do it on a daily basis—not just on the
weekends, or in quick "spurts" or once a month when their work schedules
seem less hectic.
By learning to manage
technology, you can learn to manage your time more effectively to reduce
non-billable time and increase your billable time. The Internet is one
such technology which helps you achieve this outcome. Here's how to do
1. Establish your own Web
Plenty of freelancers establish their own Web sites, not only as a
cost-effective way to gather leads, but also as a way to reduce
non-billable time. Your Web site can resemble an online portfolio that
contains visuals of your samples, information about your services, as
well as any promotional or informational material that can answer most
prospective clients' questions.
Next time prospective
clients request information about your services or to view visuals of
your work, lure them to your Web site. It'll help reduce time and money
required to mail your package of materials.
Your Web site can also be an
effective "independent marketing machine" that pulls in leads and
inquiries by itself, providing you advertise your Web site on your
traditional marketing materials and allow your Web site address to
"circulate" in the major search engines, databases and business
2. Use the Internet for
faster business assessments.
In the past when a freelancer acquired a new client account, he or
she would ask the client to mail as much information about the company,
which may include its history, services or products, its competition,
and so on. Today there is a good chance that your prospective clients
have their own Web sites which you can visit to drum up a lot of the
information you need to assist you on future projects or to sell
yourself more effectively to them.
In addition, much of the
information at your clients' Web sites can be printed to your printer or
saved to your harddrive, to store away in your file cabinet or to read
3. Dig up work locally
and nationally with online business databases.
Online business databases can be an effective way to uncover
potential businesses that are most likely to need your freelance
services. Within seconds, online business databases can whirl through
16+ million U.S. businesses and abstract specific types of businesses
locally or nationally. Many online business databases also include
additional information, such as company Web site addresses, e-mail
addresses, company size, revenue, type of products or services, and so
In addition to online
business databases, many popular business and industry directories are
online, such as the Thomas Register, an enormous resource of U.S.
manufacturers in different industries, which you can speedily search
through for free. Its Web site address is
4. Use e-mail to speed up
response and to increase client communications.
An obvious use of the Internet is e-mail. When you need to ask your
client a minor question, there is no need to call his office and have
his secretary put you on hold for five minutes or be told that he's in a
meeting or out to lunch. You can e-mail your question to the client and
have him reply at his convenience. This avoids wasting unnecessary time
waiting for the client to pick up the phone and it also can eliminate
long distance phone calls.
Clients are also using
e-mail to send freelancers detailed instructions about the project being
worked on, and freelancers are using e-mail to send clients daily or
weekly progress reports to update clients about the project's progress.
Another useful benefit of
e-mail is the freelancer can e-mail his finished copy or graphic design
to the client, without wasting time and money packaging it and sending
5. Join subscription
lists and bring networking to your computer screen.
Thousands upon thousands of "Listserv" groups exist on every
imaginable topic for you to join, free of charge. These "Listservs,"
also know as "subscription lists" or "mailing lists," bring posts to
your e-mail account, which you can respond to or post your own message
for others to reply. Visit your bookstore and buy an Internet White
Pages or Yellow Pages directory or search the search engines to uncover
subscription lists that attract your types of clients. By doing so, you
can begin "Internet-working," a term I coined to define networking with
prospective clients via posts and threaded discussions. Internet-working
can steadily build rapport and establish relationships—and potentially
get you work from these Internet business people.
Another benefit of joining
Listserv lists is that, when you need a question answered, professionals
who subscribe to the list will answer it with sound, quality advice.
Sometimes it is often faster than drumming up information from a book or
searching for it on the Internet; besides, information from a book or
from the Internet is generally not specifically customized to satisfy
your needs. When I needed to find freelance rates on copy editing for an
academic book for the New Jersey area, I posted the question on a
writing-related Listserv, and within a day, writers responded with
advice slanted to specifically answer my question.
6. Use search engines to
search for specific information.
Need to find facts, quotes, statistics or interviews for an article,
brochure or sales letter? Us the "major" search engines like Yahoo! or
Excite. Over the last year, I have gotten most of my interviews off of
the Internet. I search for professionals in specific industries using
the "major" search engines, visit their Web sites, and collect
additional information about them to determine if they might be
appropriate for the topic of my article. I then leave an e-mail
introducing who I am, what I need, and if they are willing to provide me
with quotes and information. I no longer call colleagues or other people
to recommend someone who'd potentially be a great interviewee. I search
the Internet instead because the search engines give me dozens and
dozens of choices.
7. Create "electronic"
response devices to solicit the specifics of prospects before you speak
When you establish your Web site, make sure you create an electronic
response device, such as an online reply card, an estimate form, or a
questionnaire so you can solicit the needs of prospects. A basic
electronic response device asks prospects what their problems are, their
present and future needs, if they might be interested in your services,
what their budgets are for this project, and if they'd like you to call
back to discuss their needs in detail. Electronic response devices are
quick to complete and the information is sent instantly to your e-mail
account. A wieldy benefit is that you have much of the vital information
necessary to develop a viable selling strategy to secure work from
prospects before you even speak with them.
8. Model what other
successful freelancers are doing by studying their Web sites.
A favorite hobby of mine is to visit Web sites of other freelancers
to study how they operate their businesses, what they charge, who their
clients are, what services they offer their clients, and to read their
promotional and informational materials to determine what works best and
what works least with their Web site content. You can do the same. Study
Web sites of established freelancers and model what's working
successfully for them. By itself this approach can give you some headway
Brian Konradt is the owner
and operator of
FreelanceWriting.com, a Web site dedicated to help writers master
the business and creative sides of freelance writing. Mr. Konradt is
also the principal of BSK Communications & Associates, a
communications/publishing business in New Jersey, which he established