Here's the thing - we live in an era of never-ending content. Everywhere we look, there are words and images and videos to entice us down a rabbit hole of endless content. As a freelancer, what you put out into the world is everything. Your content is your best bet for reeling in clients. It would be a mistake to build a marketing strategy and not include proper content to leverage.
This begs the question of how to stand out? How can you put your name before others in your niche?
(A) Use Video
There are so many types of content out there that you can include in your content marketing strategy, but all of them have their own place. For example, if you are a freelance artist, then having an Instagram and posting daily sketches, as well as descriptions of your process, are essential. If you are a freelance writer, like me, then establishing a Medium account and posting daily could be another way to leverage content. The key is to pick types of content that will boost your engagement, and you can only do so if you are interacting on the right platforms with the right audiences.
The most popular forms of content being used are blogging, videos, infographics, and case studies. However, there has been a strong emphasis put on video. 95% of marketers have claimed that videos have helped their customers understand products better, and according to Cisco, over 80% of all traffic will consist of video by 2021.
If you aren't producing video as part of your marketing strategy, then it's time to do some research and see how video could work with your niche. As attention spans decrease, unfortunately written content simply won't do as well as a video will. As a writer and blogger, that makes my heart sink a little. Fortunately, blogging remains one of the top forms of content to increase client engagement, as of 2018. So, keep your blog up and running but form a side plan for developing some video content (perhaps for your 2019 marketing strategy!). Doing both will certainly enable you to reach two kinds of audiences - the kind that reads and the kind that watches!
(B) Plan Content with a CTA in Mind
If you don't know, a CTA is a Call To Action. Almost all content marketing strategies have one or more CTAs that call back to their main objective. Sometimes, this means offering an incentive, such as a free download, to get your prospects to click on your Ad, link, email, etc. When they click, some software systems give you the ability to ask them for personal information, such as their email address, allowing you to add them to a prospect list and follow-up with them later on. CTAs are powerful in that they give your audience a clear idea of what they do if they are interested in your services, and they allow for you to begin an interaction with prospective clients.
These days, there are all sorts of incentives you can easily make yourself and offer to others through a promotional campaign or even just on your blog. Personally, I like to use Canva to generate professional PDF graphics that correlate with my brand and primary objective. However, keep in mind you don't have to have an incentive to have a CTA. You can make your CTA, for example, link back to your freelance services page on your website. When you are making your CTA, put yourself in your client's shoes. What do they need? Always, always think about your content from the eyes of your audience.
(C) Put Your Best Content Out with Consistency
Think about your perspective client for a moment. Now, think about your best friend. While you are obviously closer to one more than the other, you must keep in mind that you are trying to form relationships - not just get a paycheck. Part of being a great freelancer is being able to produce quality content consistently. You want to put your best foot forward every time your prospects are online or in a room, but you also want to do so in a way that makes them feel comfortable - which is where consistency comes into play.
If you were to post onto Instagram every other day at 5 pm (because your analytics show that's when most of your audience is active), then you are creating a schedule. Your content will pop up on your client's feed exactly when they expect it to, and over time, it will become natural for your client to interact with you. Now, on the other hand, if you were to post once in September and then 45 times in October, you may overwhelm your prospects, causing them to unfollow you.
How does this apply beyond social media? Think about emails and cold-calling. You want to be consistent but not by beating your prospect over the head with your content. It doesn't matter if you are the best writer on the planet. Remember that, just like you, your clients have lives they must attend to. I have personally found that producing content back-to-back doesn't result in the best quality content, either. It is important to research, create, review, and plan a singular piece of content well-before you publish it. Why? Because your content is your resume.
I cannot stress this enough: you need to be engaging with your niche and community! While bots and automation are great, you should still set aside at least an hour a day to check out what's trending and reach out to other freelancers in your niche. Forming connections is a key for success. You never know if your comment on someone's status or photo will convert into a lead unless you engage.
I have also found that it is incredibly noticeable when a social media account, for example, isn't being managed and is, instead, being posted to from an automated program. Planned out posts are awesome but people love to get to know the you behind your brand, too, and they can't do so if every post is, "Read my new blog post!"
Plus, think about yourself as an audience member. When you go and comment on a famous person's photo, you hope that person will reply right? Why would it be any different for you? How can you expect people to ask you questions and interact on your content, if you've never, for example, liked one of their photos. Engaging with your audience is so, so important, and it will help you make a name for yourself within your community. This will help potential clients find you, check out your content, and want to work with you.
(E) Build Trust
Beyond creating content for and engaging with your audience, you need to build trust. You want clients to come to you, because they know they will receive a return on their investment (ROI). If you are a freelancer selling products, then the best way to do this is to maybe give your services out at a discounted or free price in exchange for honest reviews. You can then use those reviews to boost your authenticity and credibility within your niche, which will help build trust between you and your clients.
Keep in mind that your "product" doesn't need to be a physical object. Really, I'm referring to your services. For example, I offer several freelance services, as well as custom packages. My main goal for the end of 2018 is to have at least one client leave me a great review. Being a new business, I feel this will be doable, as long as I hustle and make connections. You should, too, set these kinds of goals for yourself and align your content to match them.
You may be thinking you can't do this step without clients, but that's not the case. You can build trust through engagement, as we discussed in the previous tip. In fact, I highly recommend you strive to build that foundation of engagement and interaction for your brand, before you dive into trying to get reviews off people. If you are super ambitious, you could try combining the two. Whatever you do should fit seamlessly into your brand's marketing strategy.
These five tips should help you, at the very least, formulate a plan to execute. By combining everything I have mentioned in this article, you will see better engagement. I, too, am learning, and I have found that doing something as simple as engaging with other writers who use the same hashtags on my Instagram posts has helped boost my interactions two-fold.
Don't have a strategy to begin with? Well, that's what I'm here for! You can check out the services I offer here, in case you're interested. Be sure to comment down below if you have any questions on boosting your client engagement. I would be happy to help!