You’ve decided to go into business for yourself as a freelancer. You have your business idea, your preferred niche, and some contacts and potential clients. How do you get new clients without paying a lot for advertising?
Here are five tips for advertising without a budget:
1. Create your own website.
There are some low- or no-cost options available for developing a website. Some platforms like WordPress and Weebly have templates where you can have multiple static pages in addition to a blog page. Use your name as your sign-in. Unless you pay a fee to have the site open in a domain, it will be a subdomain of the platform you use, such as http://[yourname]/wordpress.com.
2. Join social networking sites.
Sites like Twitter, Plurk, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc., help freelancers in building relationships with potential clients. People like to work with someone they “know.” Having an account on any of these sites and interacting (rather than always trying to sell) will build relationships, establish your reputation, and develop reliable contacts quicker and more effectively than traditional advertising.
3. Design your own brochures and business cards.
Depending on what area you freelance in, developing brochures and business cards can serve a dual purpose: Advertising materials and samples of your work. This does have some cost associated with it as you would need to invest in some business card stock and brochure paper, along with your printer’s ink.
4. Attend community networking events.
There are a wide variety of networking opportunities available for freelancers. Always have at least your business cards with you. Consider keeping a handful of brochures in your car as well. Take these with you particularly when you attend a networking event, perhaps as sponsored by your local Chamber of Commerce.
5. Include your freelance information in the signature area of any/all e-mails you send.
Word gets around about what you do. If you have your freelance information in your signature file, it will go out to everyone, spreading the word about you and your freelance business. Include this information even when you e-mail your brother who lives across town. Services such as Yahoo Mail, Gmail, etc., also have areas where you can insert a signature file.
Freelancers who have just hung out their shingle don’t have to go without advertising. With a little creativity, you can advertise without a budget almost as effectively as if you had money earmarked for that, sometimes more.