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Advertising has a lot of effect in attracting big clients to a business. Is there a way (conventional or unconventional) to advertise myself as a freelancer so that I can attract good clients and bigger projects.

Note: No answers should be related to any freelancing sites.

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    First, I like this question and I vote up for it. To the crew: is this a question that fits the Q&A rules? Isn't it a open question? I've difficulties to understand... – Seraphim May 22 '13 at 9:48
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A few words of advice from someone who has been self-employed for a long time.

First advertising is effective to the extent people knew about you before, unless you have very well-targeted advertising. When I started out, I spent a fair bit on advertising but the only thing that got me a return on investment was, believe, radio advertisement aimed at individuals and small businesses.

On the other hand my initial PR efforts made me a lot of initial customers.

First: Work on your presence

So before you start advertising yourself, you want to improve your presence generally. You get out of this (and the resulting advertisement) what you put into it. If radio stations offer a package for an interview and advertising (if you are trying to reach end users) this may be helpful. Talk to them. If you are involved in open source projects with reasonable profiles, work on making sure you are known there. For example I do a lot of PostgreSQL-related blogging because that drives traffic to LedgerSMB.org, and then when people start using that software, I am usually the first person they come to looking for support.

Next, how does your advertising fit into this?

Advertising, done well, is a way of supporting this presence-building effort. It is not the entire effort, or even the central aspect of it. It is instead how you build that last piece in. When I go to conventions I look carefully at the target audience, and I divide my advertising into three sections:

  1. What will get people to stop and talk to me?

  2. What can I give them when they do?

  3. What can I given them beyond that which may drive business later?

For example when I went to the Malaysia Government Open Source Convention a couple years ago, I put a lot of effort into my marketing and it paid off. First I offered to make my booth available for marketing PostgreSQL as a database (and thus I got support from the PostgreSQL community including marketing material). Then I selected marketing material there specific to governmental use. Then I put together the LedgerSMB stuff that I figured I could give out separately if the chance arose. Unfortunately I made a critical error[1] and so I missed the major target market but I did get significant interest and traction and I got two smaller gigs from peripheral markets.

So this material I would give away were the advertising materials. Some of which I prepared (glossy fliers) and some were prepared by others (success stories about the French government's use of PostgreSQL).

None of this would have worked if I was not reasonably well known in the PostgreSQL community. I thus basically took my presence and I build advertising around it.

Putting it all together

Classic, traditional advertising materials are relatively helpful once people know who you are, or once they get to meet you. Advertising thus works better for larger companies who already have brand recognition than it does smaller businesses.

In general, as a freelancer or consultant, one of the best things you can do is create original content which showcases your knowledge. You can then reference this in advertising materials and incorporate what you can do into them. Remember, you are not selling yourself so much as what you can do, and nothing shows what you can do like what you have done.

Your existing presence and reputation is the foundation on which you build your advertising. The advertising then further boosts the presence.

[1] The Malaysian Government wants to deal with Malaysian-owned businesses. I should have come in partnering with an existing local business already but instead I came in by myself.

  • +1 nice answer ... :) – NullPoiиteя May 22 '13 at 9:58
  • Awesome answer. Hopefully everyone takes a step back and thinks about what Chris has said. He essentially became an authority on a topic, now work comes to him. Probably too much. Which is a very good problem to have. – Drew Poland May 23 '13 at 4:55
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An important tool to market yourself to potential clients is a professional website that showcases your talents, with a blog so that you can write about your chosen area of expertise and/or a portfolio that highlights current and previous projects of note.

It also helps to make good use of social media sites - ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and network as much as possible, cultivate a following on Twitter, create a Facebook page for your company, etc.

Any one of these approaches will be a big help, but ideally you should be using all of them.

  • +1 for "you should be using all of them" – Andrew May 22 '13 at 8:55
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While a glossy brochure or professional website will all help to an extent, the best tool is reputation.

Word of mouth counts for more, and is more likely to be successful, than a high ranking on Google. Likewise good networking helps.

A strong social media following is an indicator, and many clients will check the obvious ones; but word of mouth and previous customer feedback makes for the best advertising.


And picking up on @levelnis comment... I agree: A long time a go, in another place, I wrote an article titled The Little Things In Business which ended with the observation that you never know which straw finally breaks the camel's back, but throwing on another bale will not hurt (or something to that effect).

No positive advertising is a waste. So make sure you do the little things well, as well as the big things.

  • Agreed. The tools I have mentioned are useful to back up your reputation and can potentially swing a client in your favour if they can verify the quality of your work. – levelnis May 22 '13 at 8:46
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    I think doing a small AdWords campaign wouldn't hurt either. – Sidharth Shah May 22 '13 at 10:27
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As a developer who is always seeking work, I am constantly working on improving my online presence by beefing up my LinkedIn profile (which they tell me is an all-star profile now), working on open source projects, and improving my StackOverflow profile.

Additionally, I created a personal profile site to show off my work, and have posted links to it on all my social network sites. I designed the HTML5 profile site as a web-template that GitHub users can make with a simple fork and a few modifications (others can use it too, but it's free to host it on GitHub).

To affirm that I am advertising myself well, every day, I get multiple emails about job opportunities, from sites like LinkedIn, Careers 2.0, Dice, etc, and nearly 200 LinkedIn profile views a month.

Freelancers and contractors in other fields should still be able to extrapolate my key points to work toward their advertising goals.

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There are many possible ways to advertise yourself , but the best way is to advertise yourself is social media , because lots of folks were using social media just like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many of the folks are always like to connect with it,

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