Web marketing for freelancers
Having an effective Web presence has never been so important. Almost without exception, employers will use the Web to search for contacts, freelancers and to advertise job vacancies.
If you can't be found easily or don't have an effective online presence, then the chances are high that you will miss out!
There are many ways to give yourself an Web presence and more importantly to control how you are perceived on the Web.
Below are our 10 steps to creating an effective online presence. But before we start, do remember that you won’t get results straight away. Promotion on the Web is a long term process, much more a jog than a sprint! Be wary of anyone promising success overnight!
- Research how you appear on the Web
- Search for your colleagues and your location
- Take control of how you appear on the Web
- Join a social network
- Using a social network professionally
- Join a site specific to your industry
- Build your own website
- Link it all together
- Keep your profiles fresh
- Take one step at a time
The first port of call is the search engines, the most popular choice being Google.
Use Google to search for your own name and see what comes up on the first and second pages. If you are lucky enough to have a rare name or one with a unique spelling then the chances are you will appear in the top results. Note that most people will rarely look beyond page two of the search results.
Next refine your search, add your preferred job title to your name, for example; 'John Smith Sound Recordist' or 'Sheila Jones Production Manager' and see what results you get back.
Make a note of all the web addresses (or ‘URL’s) where information relating to you is located. If you don’t get any results don’t worry, that’s what we are going to remedy!
The next step is to look into how other people appear who share your job title and location.
Search for your colleagues by name and job title, as in the previous step. In addition, search by job title and location, for example; 'Sound Recordist Cardiff' or 'Cameraman Denver'. This can show you how you appear in relation to other individuals who share your skills and/or location.
Again, make a note of these results. It is especially important to note what web sites are appearing in the top results as this will indicate where you should concentrate your efforts.
Follow the links harvested in Step 1 to see how you would appear to someone searching for you. It is vital that the information stored about you is accurate, meaningful and also represents what you want to be known for professionally.
This may mean you have to contact sites in order to get them to update their records, or even register with sites so you can edit content relating to you.
The main candidates here are Facebook and LinkedIn although there are many other social networks out there. Generally, Facebook is considered the more ‘informal’ of the two and LinkedIn the more business oriented. For professionals who have showreels, video oriented social networks such as YouTube and Vimeo can be an extremely effective method of promotion.
Most social networks are free and allow you to create a profile which lets people know about who you are and what you do. It is important to ensure your profile remains professional in appearance. Facebook is especialy prone to this potential problem. Careful review of the account privacy settings is essential!
Once your profile has been filled in you can start to build links to other people or 'friends' on the network. Connecting to friends and colleagues builds your presence online. In fact simply joining a social network can lead to more contacts and new business opportunities!
Once you have a profile on your network of choice, join in! Most social networks have groups, forums and areas for commenting on articles.
Posting useful links, engaging with your friends and joining appropriate groups can all help you raise your profile online. This is especially helpful when people come to obtain an impression of who you are and your level of expertise.
Remember that you are using these networks to further your professional presence on the Web. If you want to have an informal 'social' presence on say Facebook then keep this activity separate so it doesn't confuse your professional image. Or use one network for your general activity and a separate network for your professional activity.
There are many sites specifically made to help freelancers get work in the television industry. You will have seen some of them appear in the search results generated by Steps 1 and 2. Some will be more helpful to join than others. The major benefit of these industry specific sites is that they are designed for film and television professionals.
Reviewing the type and quality of the membership that appear on each site is important, as is the size of the community. Larger communities have more traffic and a wide range of members, smaller communities tend to be more specialised. The search and other useful features a site provides can make a big difference.
Once you have reviewed the site, you can decide if you want to be seen as part of the community.
If you haven’t already got a website you may want to consider building one. Having your own site with you own domain name can really help raise your profile in the search engine results.
This doesn’t have to be an expensive process, it can be as minimal as purchasing your own domain name (Such as gandi.net or 123-reg.co.uk) and then pointing it at a free web site service. (We like subhublite.com and also www.weebly.com) Choose a domain name which contains your area of expertise or your name, ideally both! You website can simply be a single page listing your contact details and a biography.
The benefit of having your own website is that you're in complete control of the way it looks, what it says and it's 100% tailored to your business. If you do have your own professional website, linking to it from your social network will drive traffic to it and improve the overall impression you give out online.
Once you have created your social profiles, registered with some industry websites and maybe even set up your own website you will need to join it all together. A lot of online profiles have areas where you can add links so you may have already done some of this.
Ideally you want to be able to list all your online presences wherever you can. You never know how someone is going to arrive at your website.
Also add links to your online presence in your email signature, your letterheads, invoice stationery, business cards etc. It may sound obvious, but every communication you have should be seen as an opportunity to promote your presence online. Selecting one ‘central’ profile at this point is a good idea, making it easier to direct people to one location where they can look at your whole presence online.
It's vitally important to keep your online presence up-to-date especially when it comes to contact details. In addition, if you can add something new to your profiles it will help build up your presence online. This doesn't have to be a major event or news item but could be a simple comment on something you've read or a photo you've taken.
Visiting and updating your social profile can be a time drain if not kept in check, so be disciplined and give yourself a strict time limit. We suggest 10 minutes as a maximum. If you're still deliberating over your post after 10 minutes, give up, do something else and try again another day.
It's worth repeating this as it's so important. Wherever your profile or profiles are hosted, try to visit them at least once a week, checking for comments, messages and hopefully post new content or update some existing content.
Some sites list the most recently updated profiles first in search results so simply updating your profile with a small change can be very beneficial.
As we mentioned at the top of this post, promoting yourself on the Web is a long term process. You won’t see results straight away, but if you apply gentle and consistent effort to the process it will yield results. We won’t guarantee you will be the number one entry in Google for your profession but you will be much easier to find, and employers will be able to get a much better impression of who you are and what you can do.