When It Comes to Networking, There Are No Shortcuts
Call us biased, but we can’t help but to think that platforms and communities like Hirable are a great benefit to freelance developers. With the ability to showcase your work, create an impressive profile, find high quality new clients, and connect with other freelancers, there’s undoubtedly plenty to love.
But, positives aside, there’s a common trap we see far too many freelance developers fall into over and over again: Assuming that creating a profile is all they need to do to grow their businesses.
Spoiler alert: That assumption is completely false. While these sorts of outlets are a great addition to your networking and marketing strategies as a freelancer, that doesn’t mean they make up the entire picture. Growing your freelance career isn’t a “set it and forget it” sort of thing—it won’t run on autopilot.
Yes, creating your profile on a site like Hirable is a fitting way to get started—but, always remember that it’s a start, and not necessarily the finish line. After getting set up, it’s up to you to grab the reins, network, and continue to promote your own work, capabilities, and services.
“But, how do I do that?” is likely what you’re wondering to yourself now. Have no fear, we’re going to break it all down for you.
Best Practices for Marketing Yourself
Before we jump into the nitty gritty details you’re eager to get your greedy paws on, we need to get some basics out of the way—after all, you need to walk before you can run, right?
Here are a few best practices you’ll want to keep in mind when networking and marketing yourself as a freelance developer.
1. Always Be Prospecting
Everybody’s probably a little too familiar with the “feast or famine” phenomenon that comes along with freelancing. You can quickly go from being swamped with seemingly endless work to suddenly hearing crickets in your inbox and wondering how you’re wondering where the freelance jobs are.
In an ideal world, you’d never have a slow period—or, at least not a period that’s too slow. Surprisingly, you have more control over this than you think you do.
One of the best things you can do for your business is to continuously prospect for new clients. Yes, even if your plate is currently full and you couldn’t dream of taking on a new project. Remember, things won’t always be that way—and in those moments, you’ll wish you had some warm leads in the pipeline. That means networking on sites like Hirable, but also LinkedIn and any other viable job destinations you peruse. Additionally, don’t discount professional and creative groups in your area. Attending these events and doing your online work is a solid two-fold approach to keeping the pipeline likely flowing.
So, make sure that you always reserve the time to form new relationships and market your business. It’ll pay dividends in those inevitable slow times.
2. Do High Quality Work
Alright, we hope this would go without saying—but, we couldn’t leave it off the list entirely.
Regardless of what marketing tactics you put into play, completing high quality work for your existing clients (on time, no less!) should always be one of your top priorities as a freelance developer.
Like it or not, word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly powerful. According to Nielsen, 84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services. Even further, that means that word-of-mouth recommendations are the highest ranked source for trustworthiness. And as any marketer knows, word of mouth marketing is the cheapest and most effective way to market your product. In this case, it’s your work and your connections. Make sure your work will have them glowing over your work.
Needless to say, you want good reviews from your past and current clients.
3. Maintain Your Own Website
Of course, as a freelance developer, your website says a lot about you. Even if it doesn’t contain a formal portfolio, it still acts as your portfolio in a way—people expect a developer to have a polished and functioning website of their own, much like they expect their dentist to have good teeth. Would you trust an “expert” with bad teeth in your mouth? The same goes for a developer with a bad profile.
Even in those moments when you’re swamped with client work, it’s important that you remember to maintain and update your own website with the same level of care and detail you would offer a client. It might not pay, but it’s one of the most vital aspects of your job. Don’t neglect it.
Often, your website is one of your first impressions—you want it to be a good one.
Using Social Networks to Market Yourself
As you might guess, today no marketing strategy is complete without a strong focus on social media. And, even if you don’t consider yourself an expert in this regard, social networks can still be a huge asset to growing your business.
Let’s take a brief look at a few of the communities you’ll want to be a part of:
1. Stack Overflow
Particularly well-known in the development community, Stack Overflow provides a place for developers to ask and answer different programming questions—and it’s a great way to form bonds with other developers!
Keeping an updated LinkedIn profile is crucial for any freelancer or business owner, including developers. It’s a great way to connect with both other freelance developers and prospective clients. Plus, many businesses use LinkedIn as one of their resources to search for freelancers—so, you’ll want an active presence there!
If Twitter is one of those outlets you previously ignored, you’ll want to think again. It offers a great, low-pressure environment to interact with potential clients or businesses, as well as other developers. It serves as an awesome networking and promotional platform, while still giving you a little breathing room to show some personality.
Building Your Personal Website
We’ve already mentioned how important it is to keep your personal site updated (you don’t want prospective clients clicking a broken link or being led to a blog that hasn’t been updated since 2011!).
But, there are a few other important things to keep in mind when it comes to building a freelance developer website that sends the right message.
1. Keep it Simple
It can be tempting to cram your personal website full of all the bells and whistles you can think of in order to showcase all of your capabilities.
But, in the end, you’re better off keeping your website more simple and user-friendly, so that the important stuff—like your portfolio and your bio—can shine through.2. Draft an “About” Page
The internet can feel like a really anonymous place, and you don’t want to add to that feeling by neglecting to put an “About” page on your website.
This is a place where potential clients can find out more about you—aside from your work as a developer. So, don’t skip your chance to share a little bit about yourself to help clients get to know you a little better!
3. Make it Painfully Easy to Contact You
You don’t want prospective clients to visit your website, admire it, and then click away. Remember, you’re trying to start a working relationship. And, unfortunately, far too many people hide their contact information behind various walls that make it virtually impossible to contact them directly.
The easier you can make it to get in touch with you, well, the more likely potential clients are to actually do it.
While communities like Hirable can be a great asset when it comes to building your business as a freelance developer, that doesn’t mean that creating a profile is all you need to do. You still need to be proactive and promote your own work.
Keep these tips in mind, and you’re sure to market your business in a way that ensures you constantly have quality clients coming down the pipeline—and, isn’t that every freelancer’s dream?
By: Kat Boogaard
AND CO Guest Post: Hirable
John White, Creative Director & Christian D’ Alessio, COO