Advertising freelance services in a way that won’t break the bank can be difficult. Plenty of freelancers avoid advertising entirely, assuming that the cost of advertising just isn’t worth the level of business it will create. In a lot of cases, that assumption is right.
Taking out an ad in the local daily paper is insanely expensive, especially when you consider how few business owners look for freelance writers (or other service providers) when they’re reading the sports scores.
However, there are advertising opportunities that will let you reach people who are actually interested in hiring you.
Churches and synagogues put together directories of their members. So do professional organizations and hobby clubs. Assuming the groups you belong to have members who would be interested in hiring you, those directories can be a great advertising opportunity. Most business owners would rather do business with people they already know, after all. You just have to let them know you’re available for their next writing project.
At many events, you get a program the moment you walk through the door. Because you know the target market of most events in advance — you’ll reach very different people through the program at an orchestra concert then you will at a local business conference — you can limit yourself to advertising at those events that will actually help you.
You can take advertising at an event a step beyond the program by taking a sponsorship role. Sponsors get vocally thanked throughout an event and often get their logo placed all other different conference materials. If you’re looking at small events, such as unconferences or smaller meetings, sponsorship opportunities may be very inexpensive.
There are a variety of options for advertising online, but Google AdWords can provide a useful tool. While the cost of certain keywords (like ‘freelance writing’) can be somewhat expensive, more specific keywords (like ‘freelance writing Maryland’) can be relatively inexpensive. Many websites also offer advertising slots on their own: if you’re already spending time on the blogs in your niche, you’ve got a list of places to consider advertising.
When Should You Advertise?
Advertising is not the cheapest marketing method out there, although it much less time-consuming than many options. I generally wouldn’t recommend making advertising a key part of your marketing campaign if you’re just starting out as a freelancer: other marketing techniques, like collecting and sharing testimonials, will actually help you build up to a successful advertising campaign if that’s the route you want to take.
When you’ve been freelancing for a while, though, advertising can be relatively simple way to kick things up a notch. You’ve already got a solid business built, but advertising can create ways for clients to come to you — rather than you going looking for them. That can be an important change, especially as client work takes up more of your time and you have less hours to devote to marketing (but more money).