Freelance Marketing

An Uphill Battle to Future Success

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What I’ve learnt as a freelancer / independent designer and illustrator over the last two years, is that you really can’t afford not being active on the web and social media.

How I started off advertising myself and my design business was by placing a well-designed and creative signage board on a busy T-junction in front of where I live and work. Two years later it has paid off three times with client work. Though it hasn’t been successful in marketing me to a broader audience, it still lends my business some credibility and allowed me to connect a physical presence to a Google Maps pin.

At the same time, I had created a WordPress blog to host my portfolio work and to create an online presence for my creative business venture. Though this helped me further the credibility of my website, it didn’t deliver the desired result. At first, it baffled me as I believed this on its own should have resulted in possible clients reaching out to me. I only later learnt the importance of advertising my website via Google AdWords to increase the traffic to my site. Unfortunately, this was still not enough.

I have also invested time in creating a presence on Facebook. But without running adds and actively keeping it up to date, my page follower count has not grown considerably. I have uploaded my portfolio content onto my personal and business Pinterest and recently started using Instagram to grow a following for my personal 3D artwork. On all of these media platforms, I have linked to my WordPress website and connected my work to my name and my business. Still, I have seen little growth in business going down this avenue.

Next, I decided to run free adds on various local websites and groups to further link traffic to my website. My experience with this sofar is that I have been competing against hundreds if not thousands of other individuals and businesses for limited screen space and no real way of knowing if my adverts are ever seen on the front page. Without potential customers doing the dirty work of pushing through heaps of adverts I don’t believe they would be able to find my marketing content, by which leads could be generated to my website. So far the only traffic that has come to my WordPress website has been through paid ads via Google AdWords and few from other sources.

In the meantime, the most work has come from word of mouth and real-life networking. So why am I still saying you can’t afford not being active on the internet and social media, instead of discussing the importance of real-life networking? For me personally, it is the concept of reach that is important, and successfully engaging online has a much broader reach in comparison with moving in your social circles, unless of course, you have a broad social network to engage with, which might be topic for another time.

If part one in my marketing journey as a freelancer / independent designer and illustrator was physical marketing, part two would be my experience with poor web marketing. So now I’m making a push in part three with what I hope to be successful in online marketing. The journey started with research, which I hope to cover in-depth in a future journal post. For a brief summary, I have been following various Illustrators and Designers on social media such as YouTube and reading their blogs to get a better sense of how to engage successfully online with my target audience and how to expose my work to Art Directors. Alongside seeking advice from successful entrepreneurs, freelancers and independents I have been investing time in learning online marketing and website building skills by reading books and doing online courses on Udemy, YouTube and the like.

Part three starts with this website. Designed and structured using what skills I have learnt on website design and programming, user interface design and user experience design. As I’m currently writing this prior to hosting my website and setting up a new marketing strategy to link to it, I still have many steps to go through before I can call it a successful venture. Luckily I have a friend who specialises in website creation who I will be actively questioning and asking help in understanding how to connect my website to the larger web and how to help my audience find me. This will involve understanding site management, doing Search Engine Optimisation also known as SEO, generating a sitemap to help search engines such as Google and Bing to find my website, understand how articles, blog posts and other content influence search engine rankings, setting up Google AdWords and other paid advertising, as well as updating my social media and marketing.

Once this website is integrated with the internet I will be able to continue with the next step which is staying active on social media and building a following on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and hopefully find a way to engage actively on Twitter and YouTube as well. Then I would like to create a way for people to sign up for email updates and further work on updating this journal and writing future articles. Building a proper pipeline and staying active would be the next challenge. From the research I’ve done, these are all valuable assets in growing a presence online and engaging with an audience, getting myself and my business’s name out there, connecting with clients and building a successful business.

If this leads to a success story, I will certainly be adding more entries into this journal to hopefully help others who wish to follow a similar path in creating a profitable and successful freelance, independent or small business practice to avoid the obvious pitfalls and navigate their self-marketing journey successfully.

I hope to add a forum of some kind in the future for people to ask questions and share their stories concerning topics such as this. For now, I will be keeping my focus on making this journey a successful and fruitful venture. f anyone is interested in asking questions or starting a conversation with me, while I don’t have a way to engage with on this website, feel free to email me, post a comment on my social media page on Facebook or PM me Instagram. I will try my best to respond as promptly as possible.

If you reached the end of this journal entry, I would like to say thank you for reading all the way through and I hope you succeed in your own business and private ventures. Also check back in to see how my journey progresses, as well as for new posts to follow on my experiences as a Designer, Illustrator, 3D Artist, Character Designer and path with learning new skills in web design, programming, fine art and animating.