There are so many new ways to promote yourself and your brand on the Internet, some of which involve some form of writing. Below, I’ve taken all the methods that I’ve taken from a free ebook I made, to share here in some detail.
Before you start anything, it is important, to have a plan in mind as you use these methods. They really don’t have to take that much time and effort, but can be very rewarding.
Every promotional step you take online should be part of a strategy rooted to your particular niche as a creative, your expertise and your focused area. If you ignore focusing on what it is that is unique about what you do, you risk wasting valuable time and energy on promoting yourself.
It’s up to you whether you want to use all the methods or one or two. What’s great is that each method will support what you do with the other methods, through cross promotion in the form of links.
Admittedly, these ideas are not new, but for those needing some detail into exactly how these methods work, and just to maybe rekindle your interest, here goes…
1. Writing for other sites
One of the most effective ways of gaining exposure, as well as credibility as a creative freelancer is to offer to write guest posts, online magazine articles, columns (ideally regular ones) on key sites relating to your freelancing niche. You should find success depending on the site you approach, as those running the sites will be happy to off load some writing work to people with fresh new insights.
Particularly on well chosen sites, contributing an interesting post or article will bring ears and eyes to your know-how, your work and your site, and it will get you established as an expert in what you do.
You can use social sites like Delicious, Faves.com, Twitter and Digg, as well as the Google blog search to find sites worth contacting (via their contact page/button) based on popularity. Alexa is a great site you can use to gauge the level of traffic coming into sites.
Obviously, if you can get your name and your writing on sites with high traffic levels, that would be ideal, but don’t forget that even on less popular sites, your writing will be archived for a long time, and can be picked up through people searching on search engines. You can also re-use your post or article in some of the other methods I’m about to discuss.
2. Starting a niche blog
Writing your own blog is an excellent way to gaining long term publicity for your services. The beauty of blogging is that it provides a system that facilitates regular, fresh, new content to be viewed by interested visitors.
Blogs create an excellent position from which to build and develop your personal brand, which friends, fans and prospects begin to recognise you for. Like many of the other methods in this report, blogging adds to your credibility as freelancer, whilst building trust and respect amongst loyal readers who see what you have to say.
It is best to focus the content on your blog into one simple niche, like logo design, electronic music or short story writing, to throw some examples out there, so that people remember your blog for something in particular, and to enable you to write focused, high quality content.
There are a few approaches you can take in getting your name and work out into the ‘blogosphere‘.
The first is to incorporate a blog into your personal website (or vice versa by incorporating a portfolio or bio into your blog site, which can be done through blog platforms like WordPress, and you might need the help of a web developer). You can use this blog to give updates of anything you like, including news on what you are working on, and so on.
The second approach is to set up a ‘standalone’ blog, again through a platform like WordPress.org, Tumblr, WordPress.com (hosted by WordPress) or Typepad, for example. This blog can be linked back to your own site, portfolio, Facebook profile etc.
A standalone blog is useful because the focus of blog posts can be on any focused niche you choose, although ideally relating to your industry, attracting visitors around that niche. This is instead of focusing on your personal blog, which will be focused more around your personal projects.
Unless you are pretty well known already, a standalone blog is likely to attract much more traffic than your personal blog.
By establishing yourself as a bit of an authority on what you share (and this is why it is important to have a focused topic area for your blog/s), particularly if it relates directly to what you do as a freelancer, your self promotional efforts will pay off in the form of a larger fan base and contacts, greater trust and respect, more support and more visitors to your personal site. That includes potential clients.
Another approach to blogging you can use, especially if you don’t have enough time to commit to regularly writing posts for your own blog, is to apply to submit posts to other blogs related to your niche as a contributor. The work of setting up a blog and attracting visitors (hopefully) will already have been done for you.
Group blogs also exist. These are set up to pool the contributions of more than one individual, which serve as a connector and effective promotion source for all contributors. Thunderchunky, the design and illustration portal, serves as a demonstration of this, linking together the contributions of four designers, whilst promoting their work at the same time.
You might consider setting up a group blog with some friends, colleagues or people who are freelancers like you (who can find and contact on forums, social media sites, and other blogs, for example) to promote yourself, and take some of the strain off writing for one blog regularly.
3. Article writing
Here’s a powerful way to share your knowledge and ideas with the world, while bringing traffic to your site, and increasing your integrity as someone who knows and cares about your speciality.
Make sure you write a clear and concise article on something you think many will find useful, and post it to a popular article submission site like ezinearticles.com. Your article doesn’t have to be long. Usually a minimum of 250 words is all that is required. Your ‘return on investment’ in the form of traffic back to your site, can be extremely worth it.
Be sure to give a reason for people to click a link that you provide at the end of the article, such as in suggesting that your site contains more information or examples of what you have been writing about.
You should be aware of who you plan to target your articles to when writing. For example, a freelance graphic designer might submit an article on effective logo design methods if he/she is looking to target people in their own industry. However, to target potential clients, they might submit an article on how to use illustrations on websites to attract customers, for example.
People will find your articles, through articles sites themselves or by searching in search engines. Articles tend to get indexed (ranked) very well in search engine results, and a high proportion of anyone searching for your topic would be taken to your article and link.
A large list of places to submit articles to is included at the back of our ’10 Steps to Powerful Online Self Promotion’ ebook, downloadable here.
4. Commenting on blogs
Commenting on other blogs and websites can prove to be very fruitful in promoting yourself online. This involves finding blogs (through Delicious or Google, for example) that are relevant to what you know and are interested in, and, importantly, are places that would attract the kinds of people you would like to gain exposure to. You then write an appropriate and meaningful comment beneath blog posts that you have something to say about.
There are many benefits one can take from commenting on blogs, making sure your web link or appropriate contact details are attached.
With well written and thought out comments, you can begin to build credibility as an expert or as someone who cares about your field (or at least the blog post in question). This will build trust with readers looking over your comment and will add to your reputation as a creative freelancer.
Blog comments can be sources of traffic to your own site through the link you leave, as people seeing your insights choose to find out more about you. This often brings with it comments left on your own site if you have a blog, often from the writer of the blog you left your comment on. Comments on your site will add to its perceived value from visitors as well.
Commenting on other blogs will point important backlinks to your site (your own link to your site that you left with the comment), which will improve how your site is ranked in the search engines.
It is also an important part of your networking strategy in making friends and building up a following and publicizing yourself. You also never know who might be browsing over the comments, including yours. It could be someone who can get you work or further publicity.
A separate Red Lemon Club post on blog commenting can be found here.
5. Writing on forums
Contributing to, or starting appropriate ‘threads‘ or conversations on Internet discussion boards (forums) can be a great way of gaining exposure. It enables you to meet and interact with people in the same industry as you, get work, gain referrals, gain traffic to your site/s, as well as providing a valuable source of support and inspiration from those people that share your interests and share their work with you.
Posting on forums can be a good way of finding prospects directly, as many people will use the forums for their own research into finding suitable candidates to work with them on their own projects.
Many forum sites have a special area dedicated to posting and finding jobs for freelancers, that you can use for finding potential clients to work with. You will be well positioned to get work if you have built up credibility on the site from previous interaction. You only need to contribute valuable information occasionally to gradually build credibility with those members using the site.
If you are a web designer based in the UK, for example, you can use a site like WebDesignerForum to get some publicity as a web designer and to simply become known in that industry. This particular site has, like many other forums, an area where you can browse work on offer, and an area to directly promote your own services too. Of course, with the Internet, you don’t need to be restricted to do work destined for one country.
It is important to include a link to your site if you have one on your forum profile and within your ‘signature‘ that appears at the bottom of your posts. Like with commenting, this will add important backlinks to your site, as well as bring traffic to it.
6. Publishing a newsletter
If you have a website or a blog, you can publish a regular email newsletter or ‘e-zine’ to those people who have chosen to put their names on your mailing list. The value in having a mailing list, apart from building a list of contacts, is the regular contact you can make with friends, your clients, prospective clients and your network in general, which, for many (if the list is extensive), can be priceless.
Your site need only be a simple one for this to work and for you to place an ‘opt-in‘ box on the site where visitors fill in their name and email address.
You can use Aweber for setting one of these up and building your list. This service attracts a small fee, but there are free mailing list services available like Aardvark and Bravenet.
Your newsletter can be about anything you like, but ideally with updates that relate to what you do as a freelancing professional and creative. It’s also worth sending out brief details on what you are working on and what you’ve recently completed, to keep those who receive the newsletter in the loop.
Newsletters or e-zines can be sent out on a monthly basis, for example (if you are giving updates on what you are doing, I would not suggest sending one out more frequently than this), or perhaps weekly if you are providing helpful information that is not selling anything.
Anyone on your list will be sufficiently kept up to date and reminded of you. It is a great way to keep up relationships without spamming people, as long as you make it possible for individuals to opt out of the newsletter at any time.
Hopefully you will strike the balance just right between alerting people with updates and providing interesting and valuable information.
A Red Lemon Club post on newsletters ’10 Ways a Newsletter Can Drive Your Self Promotion,’ can be found here.
Remember to focus on quality, not quantity in all the self promotional activity you do.
Comments are encouraged!