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How to Promote Your Freelance Business in the Real World

The Internet is the single most useful promotional tool for freelancers everywhere.  It allows you to reach a targeted audience of people all over the world and many of the methods are free.  Because of this, many freelancers may forget that there are ways to promote your business that don’t involve tweets or email newsletters.  Though maybe not quite as useful as internet communication, “real world” promotion methods can still be valuable for your business, and they can be just as easy and free.

Prepare your “elevator pitch”

It’s a staple of small talk conversations everywhere – “So, what do you do?”  Your answer to this question could determine much more than just the quality of your conversation – it could bring you new clients.  Not that you should sound try to sound like a salesman at dinner parties, but don’t just say “I’m a graphic designer” either.  Simply telling people what sort of design you do, what makes your work special, and that you own your own business could lead the conversation further and possibly make the other person think of that friend they have who is looking for someone to design a website for them…

Always be prepared

Your stock of business cards should never leave your wallet or purse.  You never know when you’ll run into someone looking for design services, and business cards are professional and convenient. You can get free or inexpensive cards made at sites like vistaprint.com, moo.com, and canva.com.

Find local events

The internet is not the only place where you can find targeted audiences to promote your business.  You might need to get a little creative for this part, but you can do it.  Example: you’re a web designer.  What types of people in your community need websites?  Entrepreneurs.  Are there any business seminars, classes, events in your area that might cater to that group?  Since you’re an entrepreneur as well, it should be easy to mix into the group and mingle with other business owners who might be in need of your services.

Offer discounts to friends

Dealing with friends and money can be tricky territory, so tread lightly of course.  You don’t want to give away your services for free to everyone you know, but you don’t want to turn away everyone you know either.  Here’s a solution – offer referral discounts.  Get your friends to tell their friends about you and send them your way and then reward your friends with discounted services, either before or after the fact.  Of course your good friends will refer people to you without a discount, but some of your lesser-known acquaintances might be more likely to think of you if there’s some sort of incentive for them.  You’ll have to outline exactly what the discount promotion entails before getting involved, so that no one thinks they’re being cheated, but it’s just one more opportunity to get creative with your business.  Word of mouth advertising can be a huge traffic draw.

Promoting your business in the real world can seem very tricky, since we’ve become so accustomed to using the internet for everything.  But this type of promotion can be very useful, and it’s a good chance to think of creative promotional methods and meet new clients.  Do you have any other tips for fellow freelancers?

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