If you’ve gone through Zac’s free, but hugely valuable, blogging course (if you haven’t, sign-up from the sidebar) I’m sure you understand the huge earning potential that full-time blogging offers.
But reaching that stage requires time, effort and a lot of sweat. Almost every successful blogger has years of hard work behind him.
One smart way to keep the cash flowing while you build a full-time blogging career is to start offering services as a freelancer.
Depending on your skillset, you can offer services like article writing, web design, logo design etc. You can even get clients for services that you can’t personally offer, but can outsource them to other freelancers.
However, since there are hundreds of thousands of freelancers competing for clients on different platforms, the only way to acquire really high paying clients is to build a strong brand image that elevates you above ordinary freelancers.
Not sure how to do it? Here are a few tips you can start using straight away.
1. Don’t Call Yourself a Freelancer
Because doing so will immediately reduce your perceived value. The prospect will think of you as one of the thousands of freelancers that offer cheap services on freelancing portals.
As Seth Godin often says, calling yourself a freelancer will make you appear as just another cog in the system that has nothing unique to offer.
So start differentiating by not labeling yourself as a freelancer.
There are plenty of other catchy titles you can use.
For example, instead of calling yourself a freelance graphic designer, use the title “Creative Artist” or “Creative Media Consultant”.
If you’re a freelance copywriter, call yourself a “Creative Storyteller” or a “Corporate Wordsmith”
This immediately separates you from the crowd and makes potential clients think about you.
2. Adopt a Professional Outlook in All Business Operations
What’s the general perception about freelancers?
- They’re unreliable
- They’re lazy
- They’re not professional
I’m a freelancer myself, so I obviously hate the stereotype.
But it exists.
To counter this, and appear reliable, you need to adopt a professional outlook in all your business operations.
This starts from having a really professional website that has details of your services, your professional background, your portfolio, client testimonials and other details.
For example, Neil Patel, a six-figure content marketing and SEO consultant, started off as a freelance SEO. But look how he brands himself on his website now.
You can set up an attractive and responsive site using a WordPress theme or any other leading website builder.
Similarly, your email communication with the clients, the way you submit projects and how you send invoices, all these things represent your brand and have an impact on the client.
Always use a professional email address hosted on your domain name. Similarly, instead of creating plain invoices in MS Excel, without any branding, use invoicing tools like WorkFlowMax to create stunningly beautiful invoices that make an immediate impression on the client. It gives you several pre-designed templates that you can use to create professional invoices within minutes.
These seemingly small changes can help you establish a strong reputation with your clients and prospects, and help you grow your business in future.
3. Target a Specific Niche And Build Your Image as an Expert
If you’re branding yourself as a freelance writer or designer who can serve any clients from any industry in any part of the world, you’re setting yourself up for failure and mediocrity.
You’ll have a MUCH better chance of landing high-paying clients on a regular basis if you establish yourself as an expert in a very specific niche or a specific region.
This is the same approach that Glen Alsop (ViperChill) used last year to generate more than $1.4 million in 2015. He and his partner, just two people, created niche specific digital marketing agencies and acquired several clients in excess of $50,000.
For example, instead of branding yourself as just a freelance copywriter, you can brand yourself as a specialist real estate copywriter.
Or you can take the alternate route and focus on a specific region. For example, this web design agency even mentions its target region in the URL, Webdeveloper.Sydney
The third approach is to target both, a specific region and niche.
When you brand your services for specific regions or industries, you immediately increase your brand’s perceived value. This gives you a better chance of landing high-paying clients because you’re perceived as a specialist.
4. Create High-Quality Niche Specific Content
There’s no better way to build your authority in a niche than high quality and actionable content marketing.
According to HubSpot, content marketing produces 3 times more leads for every dollar spent, as compared to outbound marketing.
Creating high-quality content not only puts you ahead of other freelancers but also helps you generate traffic and leads for your business.
However, to make your content effective, especially blog content, you need to have the right strategy.
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Identify high performing and proven content ideas in your industry, using BuzzSumo or Ahrefs, and model your content accordingly.
- Perform comprehensive keyword research before creating content.
- Create eye-catching and attention grabbing headlines. Websites like Viral Nova and Wellness Nova have become million dollar businesses just because of their content headlines.
- Use high-quality images in your content.
- Use frequent data references and stats in your content.
- Link to other influential bloggers and content marketers.
And most importantly, spend 20% of your time creating content and 80% time promoting it on social media and other channels.
That’s the key.
5. Build Your Credibility With Guest Blogging and Self-Publishing
Guest blogging might not be the ideal way to generate traffic to a new site, but it’s certainly effective when it comes to branding and networking.
When you’re featured on the best blogs in your industry, your credibility immediately skyrockets. You can use this as a differentiation point while negotiating with prospects.
Similarly, if you’ve authored a book on any subject related to your core services, it immediately makes you look like an authority figure in your industry.
And self-publishing isn’t a big problem these days thanks to Amazon. You just need to write a decent enough book and publish it on Amazon so that you can call yourself a published author.
Your prospects would rarely buy your book to see what’s inside, but it’ll make a strong impression on them.
Freelancing is multi-billion dollar industry and there’s a lot of money to be made in it. But to really stand out from the crowd, and acquire high paying clients, you need to work on building your brand image and differentiating yourself from the thousands of other freelancers who’re offering similar services for pennies.