The life of the freelancer has many challenges, one being marketing.
Often a freelancer has developed, like all workers, skills and expertise in a particular field, often those skills have been developed inside an organisation, where there were others that filled in the gaps in their skills.
An organisation is made up of people with complementary skills so that they function as a whole. So there are sales people, marketing, finance, operations, HR, tech and so on.
However, once the freelancer jumps ship and leaves the corporate mothership, they soon find out that they are on their own. The computer has an issue, you can’t any longer send Mary in support an email. The VAT is due, oh shit who does that? Bob in accounts used to deal with that. You get the picture, there is no longer a team around them. It is you, you are the entire company and you have to do everything.
Most businesses, not just independent freelancers, get hooked up with sales and selling more, however, increasingly it is marketing and delivery that need to be the top priorities. In the connected world that we live in, where more and more of us are making our purchasing decisions based on the shared experiences of our digital network and not on the marketing of the company selling the product or service, the experience is everything.
However, in order to bring people to the experience we create and deliver, we have to be able to create exceptional marketing.
It is no longer about sales, in fact not selling is the new selling. I wrote about this previously (see link in the notes below) that it is more about sharing our ‘why’, our cause, our story and about engaging people to become evangelists for what you do than it is using manipulations to sell stuff. It is about making it easy for people to buy as no one likes being sold to.
We have also become wise to manipulative marketing tactics too after all no one puts on their website or in their content that they are shit. We all say we are the best. Well now there is a digital record of what our customers are saying about us and as I said we go to our trusted networks to ask for recommendations, in fact, we will purchase based on the reviews of complete strangers rather than what the company who is selling the thing is saying.
The challenge that we all face is that in order to tell our story we have to create content to broadcast our message to our potential or existing audience.
Here is where it has become hard for the freelancer to get heard, to stand out, to get noticed. There is a complete glut of content, much of which most have not bothered to apply the simple filter of ‘would I read this?’ to. They press send in a robotic, tick box exercise colour by numbers approach without thinking ‘if I didn’t press send, would anyone miss this?’. In a world with literally billions of blogs, podcasts, ebooks, updates, tweets, pictures, videos, articles, and content your stuff has to be good in order to make a difference.
So how can the freelancer get heard? How can they stand out in the sea of noise?
This is where the 3R’s come in.
We’ll assume that you are going deliver something great and create an exceptional customer experience that they will share with their networks and thus doing the best marketing you can ever hope for, it is complete gold dust and is the 4th R, reputation.
But in order to reach the Nirvana of marketing today and build the 4th R, reputation, you have to first get the customer to experience your product or service and that is where you need to master the first 3 R’s.
1st R – Relevant
In the crowded world of content, which is the only way to broadcast your story, it has to be relevant.
What does relevant mean? We only have a limited amount of time each day to consume other people’s content. So if this post isn’t relevant to your business, your interests and isn’t going to add value, then you are not going to read it. Well you might read it once and then realise it is not relevant and then you won’t be coming back, maybe a title might catch your eye and you’ll come back but if it continues to not be relevant you won’t.
We are not here for everyone and as a freelancer, you need to be ruthless about who you are looking to target and what the audience will be for your story. Then it is much easier to create relevant content. We are looking to create a community of freelancers and provide them with relevant and useful content, tools, workshops, activities, working space and like-minded people who share common values and goals. So there would be little point in blogging about the corporate world of work or stocks and shares.
So before hitting send ask ‘is this relevant to the audience I am looking to target?’. If it isn’t relevant then don’t press the button, there will be no point.
2nd R – risky
Are you risky enough? In today’s bland, homogenised world, where safe has been done to death, the new safe is being risky. Dare to be different, standing out from the crowd is only possible now if you choose yourself, follow your dreams and be brave enough to share your creations with the world. Safe is dull, risky leads to opportunities that have not yet been uncovered.
You need to be controversial, you need to have something to say, as in something that is remarkable, people do not remark on bland.
There is so much safe, standard, uninteresting content being churned out by safe marketers who are settling for a no-risk, just good enough content garbage that clogs our inboxes, the web, and social media. It has no value because no one has time for dull.
Remember the US Patent office considered closing in 1900, as everything that could have been invented had been!!! It hasn’t all been done, we just have to be brave enough to create something new. Be bold and be risky with a great BIG CAPITAL ‘R’.
Your message is not for everyone, better to be remarked on, loved or hated than just innocuous content destined to be unread.
3rd R – Relationship
So the holy grail of content marketing is to get engagement.
But it needs to be meaningful engagement where relationships with your audience builds and turns into them becoming advocates, evangelists, fans of your product or service. So that they will do the magic for you of sharing their experiences with the world. This where creating a great experience is so vital as they will share good and bad.
Again content that isn’t relevant and is dull, safe and without risk is unlikely to create engagement. However, the engagement has to be with the soul purpose of trying to start and build a relationship with your tribe of followers.
This is something that does not happen overnight and therefore involves getting to know people over time, being patient and willing to be yourself. This involves being a giver, not a giver with the sole purpose of expecting something back, but being a giver with no expectation of anything in return. This is something that the truly successful people have mastered, because they are being themselves, not following the flock.
The moment you expect something, then you are a manipulator, and that is part of the same safe formulaic process that bland businesses follow, driven by making money as the only goal.
Give and build relations, be risky, cut out the people who won’t like your message, making it easy for the one’s who will love it to connect.
It has to be clear, relevant and done as if you were marketing to you. Who better to understand what works for people like us, than ourselves.
Within your content, you need to create an opportunity for that to happen. So as always we’d love your comments and feedback on what we share with you, our audience. We spend a great deal of time talking and listening to freelancers, as well as reading many relevant blogs, books and attending the right courses, events and workshops. So we are working on sharing that with you.
In addition come and join in some of the relevant freelancer focused events that we have created to add value.