Generate leads without a website
All of the above examples assume that you have your own website. But many freelancers are not there yet, and that’s okay. In the past few years it seems that everyone has built a website and become an SEO expert. But there is more to a successful freelance business than SEO. Let’s look at a few time-tested methods of driving new customers to your business.
First, let’s get social media out of the way.
If you don’t have a website, a robust social media presence is going to be extremely helpful, and not just in the predictable ways. Find groups related to your field on Facebook and LinkedIn and start posting with consistency. Do not make spammy, self-promotional posts or you will likely get booted from the group and lose some potential friends in the industry (most admins are also your peers).
Instead, post useful advice, personal experiences from your business or topical questions. If you do this long enough, not only will clients start to reach out to you, Facebook and LinkedIn will also start to preference your page in their algorithm. In this way, you can find warm leads without a website and without spending a penny on Facebook ads.
One last note: be sure to keep interaction high. If someone reaches out on your page, even with an inane question or comment, don’t neglect it. Respond to any and all forms of communication and you will be rewarded both personally and through Facebook’s algorithm.
This might sound silly but a professionally edited video of you and a colleague discussing industry topics can distinguish you from your competition and establish you as an industry leader. It’s a low cost way to increase visibility and it puts a face with a name for those who don’t know you personally.
Meet your peers
This is the advice that most marketing experts neglect, but you will be rewarded if you track down conventions and industry events in your area. They are a great way to build contacts with like-minded individuals and they are enormously helpful when it comes to keeping the edge on your industry. Even if you need to travel a short distance, the benefits will far outweigh the cost of a bus or a cheap flight.
Freelancers Week is an example of a great Berlin-based event that happens annually and brings freelancers from all different industries and disciplines together. You can find panels and lectures that are more tailored to your interests and use them to meet like-minded entrepreneurs.
Similarly, Meetup is a relaxed, free way to get in touch with your industry. The site is updated frequently and offers many different opportunities, based on your location and interests. This will lead to a fuller competency within your industry and more local contacts.
Meet your clients
Do you work for a very specific clientele? For example, you may have a high concentration of contracts in medicine, education, media or the arts. Each of these fields has the same multitude of conventions and events. Whatever industry your company serves, research events in your area and meet potential clients face to face.
As with any interaction, you don’t want to lead with a sales pitch. Just converse with potential clients and let your services come up naturally. This pressure-free method will garner you knowledge about the needs of your clients and earn you new contacts, some of which will inevitably lead to sales.
If you offer world-class service for long enough, you will build up a trove of happy customers. A simple referral bonus (10% off their next order for example) will incentivize clients to send their colleagues your way. Thus, you can fuel a fully self-sustaining small business model.
Of course these suggestions are not one-size-fits-all. Take the advice that applies to your business and store the rest away for later. If your website is struggling to climb the ladder of Google’s search rankings, these simple tips will help you build a more robust, optimized site. If your website is rock solid but your business is shrinking, revisit the old-school methods of shaking hands and filling a rolodex. Over time you will find the combination that works for you and develop your own marketing practice as a freelancer or small business owner. If you’re already there, congrats! If not, these things take time. Just stay focused on your goals, put the work in and your business will flourish before long.
Author: Andrew Neely