49 affordable freelance marketing ideas

Are you a freelancer who wants to know how to market yourself effectively without blowing the budget?

Here are 49 freelance marketing ideas you can use!

  1. Setup a WordPress or Square Space or something website shaped- Yes, you do need a website. I can’t stress this enough. Give people something to Google and read about what you offer on a regular basis. And share your portfolio in the process.
  2. Blog regularly- Make a commitment to tell your business story and stick to it. Think about the kinds of questions your customers ask and answer them over a series of weeks and months. But be warned, a decent blog requires a minimum 12 month commitment to gain proper traction. But it’s worth it.
  3. Use business cards- Don’t forget to include both sides of the cards and have a strong call to action that prompts people to check you out (even a free offer of some kind can be cool) and include your social media
  4. Another use of business cards. Use pay-it-forward coffee at a cafe frequented by your target market. Pay $50 for some coffees and ask the barista to give the good customers a free coffee with your business card attached. You’ll be surprised how much this converts.
  5. Offer eBooks- People love downloading useful info. It’s a great way to start building trust with customers. Include a call to action for a special offer at the end to reel them in once they’re finished reading.
  6. Try market stall- Having a presence at a community event or markets can help you discover a new audience if you’re kind of freelancing lends itself to visual displays and presentations, or you have built products such as eBooks and tool kits. Think of ways you can sell little examples of your work while signing up potential new customers to your email list.
  7. Play with paste-ups- A well placed stencil on a wall in the right neighbourhood can really get you some eyeballs. Make it fun, playful and eye-catching. And don’t forget your website address. But make sure you get permission first!
  8. Explore contra sponsorship- Forgoing payment and swapping coverage with another small business or startup can have a strong impact at the right event. The trick is making sure the event audience is your target market and that your sponsorship is handled well.
  9. Give gifts- Think about the sorts of people you want talking about your services. Then think about a way you can create a gift that displays your talents you can give them. The word of mouth generated in their peer group or in their influence channels can be very beneficial. Also think about gifting to bloggers, journalists and industry influencers.
  10. Consider signage for your house or office- Don’t forget a well placed sign that looks appealing that includes a website address and a phone number is important. Especially if you want local customers.
  11. Create premiums- Creating branded premiums to give away is a great idea. But don’t go the plastic route. Think about things people will use and keep. And make it special.
  12. Have a launch party- Yes, you should have a launch party and yes you should invite your friends, people you think will use your product, media contacts, like minded businesses, business owners who share the same customers and so on. If you launched a while ago, have a milestone or anniversary party.
  13. Use videos– You don’t have to make a film to rival Spielberg. Prezi, Animoto or similar software can help you explain your product to your intended audience.
  14. Record podcasts- Sharing your wisdom in podcasts can help you build an audience. Just make sure you chart out your topics beforehand like you would with blogging to ensure you don’t lose momentum. Zencastr makes this simple. And you can distribute via Whooshkaa. 
  15. Make slides- Break out the PowerPoint and start making visual slides other people can use to learn about what you do and the kind of business you offer and put them on Slideshare. 
  16. Start an Unconference- Bringing like minded people together to share knowledge and wisdom is what the unconference is all about. Vote for topics and present in an informal and collaborative environment. It helps potential customers learn what you can offer them while you make industry contacts and allies.
  17. Consider guest blogging- Guest blogging has had a bad rap due to ridiculous spam SEO companies. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. Pick your targets based on shared customer bases and build opportunities through increasing your outreach.
  18. Make time for email marketing- Freelancers and businesses alike forget how important email marketing is. Email is intimate. It is special. And done right, can be your most powerful tool. Always aim to turn your social media followers into an email on your database. It’s the best way to measure your marketing success.
  19. Hold a Feedback Night- Opening yourself up to criticism may be unnerving. But it can be a great way to get information about the future direction of your freelancing efforts. It can also help strengthen your relationship with customers because it sends the message that they matter and you care about what they think.
  20. Leap into newsjacking Take a topic that is popular in the news, blog about it and share it on your social media. The more you can make your business topical, the better off you will be.
  21. Design an infographic- We all have interesting processes, industry facts and fun things we can share on a data level. Look for your opportunities to inform and educate in this fun format.
  22. Surveys- People love giving feedback. Surveys are a great way of getting the data you need about an idea or approach while you also capture those all important email addresses. AND it gives you the opportunity to share the results to give you credibility as a leader in your field. Think about using Survey Monkey or similar to help you.
  23. Twitter- Investing time in Twitter is super helpful. You can generate conversations with a variety of different people. You can reach out to influencers. Sharing tips and knowledge and creating a position of authority is what Twitter is all about. You can follow me via noshamecreative and I’ll help you get used to it if you like.
  24. Facebook- As annoying as Facebook is with reach, it still has value. Facebook helps us to get our friends involved in sharing our business message. It also shows we’re committed to social media if we have a presence. And small doses of paid advertising are good for helping with events and specific short-life promotions. Using groups and building relationships with peers can also be helpful. This is my official Facebook page.
  25. Pinterest-Online retail, anything to do with pets, food, weddings or motherhood, photographers and designers and fashion designers all benefit from using Pinterest. The trick is planning what you do before you do it and sticking to your strategy. Pinning stuff willy-nilly does not a customer make. Here are my Pinterest boards.
  26. LinkedIn- Having a decent presence on LinkedIn can help create work opportunities. Think about your profile, schedule to regularly share content, upload your portfolio, participate in groups and forums, and consider self publishing.
  27. Instagram– Instagram is awesome for showing behind the scenes and for demonstrating what you do if it is something visual such as design, fashion, food and photography. The downside is it can be hard to direct sell from Instagram and it has a stupid amount of spammers. My instagram is more personal, but you get the idea.
  28. Bookmarking– If sharing your information and drumming up an early adopter, curious and worldwide audience is for you, then try book marketing tools. It’s a wonderful way to share your content and build a following. Check out Paper.li, Mix (formerly StumbleUpon), Digg and more.
  29. Press Releases- Press releases that are done well can work wonders. By done well I mean are actually based on newsworthy events to do with your business, to specification of the publication you are pitching to, and have appropriate research behind them. Keep your facts in order and make sure you know who you are targeting, and whatever you do, don’t annoy journalists and media outlets. Be helpful.
  30. Freebies to Community Radio/TV- community radio especially has a loyal following. So if you can arrange interviews, donate to supporter drives or even find a little cash for a membership, the rewards can be quite good.
  31. Interns- Having a legal intern who enjoys working with you can help spread word of mouth to your future potential customers- i.e. their friends, lecturers, parents and associates.
  32. Chalk Art- never underestimate the power of cool chalk art carrying your business name.
  33. Fliers and Posters- Use this wisely. Most of us don’t like junk mail and we certainly don’t like irrelevant and unsightly paper blowing around the neighbourhood. Make them attractive, useful and target the audience well.
  34. Competitions- use that “got to be in it to win it” spirit and raffle off some of your assistance. Gear your competition towards finding out why entrants think they need you (so it gets them thinking about the fact they do) and make sure you collect details like email and name to turn those entrants into warm leads later.
  35. Exclusive Trials- pick a group you want to woo and bring them in on the trial process of your new products.
  36. Testimonials- I personally think people put too much weight on testimonials. They are not silver bullets by any stretch. However, having testimonials on LinkedIn and Google My Business can really help. And it can help having them on your website, too.
  37. Personalisation- if you want to woo someone, make your attempt to attract their attention deeply personal. None of this “Hi there” form letter stuff. Own the responsibility of researching and knowing your customers, even before they technically are your customers!
  38. Dream Lists- write lists of places, associations and people you want to have as customers and then work out the best ways to get their attention. Set yourself a target of a person a month. Learn from the process. And keep going.
  39. Use freelancers- the stupidest mistake freelancers and small businesses make is not using freelancers to their best advantage. And by this I mean quit with the cheap labour and hire people that can actually be your customers. Stop thinking of it as saving money and start thinking of it as investing better in your networking and word of mouth spend.
  40. Volunteer- working for organisations and community groups you admire can generate an enormous amount of leads. And it can add something dandy to your portfolio, too.
  41. Present at an event– look for opportunities to share your knowledge. Or create your own.
  42. Networking- now here’s the kicker- I don’t believe networking works. Not in the traditional sense. Inviting people together to network means one thing- everyone is in “sell mode”. What you want is people open to buying. So instead of networking, pick like minded events based on topics that interest you and your customers. Take your business cards to those.
  43. Crowdfunding- bringing your idea to life via crowdfunding can help you realise an audience while also gain you media coverage. But be warned. Crowdfunding platforms are not lands of people waiting to fork over cash for anonymous projects. You need to make sure you market your idea, have an established audience, and you think your rewards and your PR through carefully.
  44. Pitching- practise being able to explain your business in a succinct, “here is the problem I solve” manner. So few business people know how to do this, yet it is a great opportunity to introduce what you do for a living to an interested party.
  45. Hot-desks- working in co-working spaces can help you make leads and contacts simply by being there and participating.
  46. SEO- think about how many times you turn to Google per day to find out what you need. Now ask yourself when the last time you bought something without online research and just from some random brochure was. SEO is here to stay and it matters.
  47. Be brave- the better you are at putting on your boots and getting out there, the better you will be at being a freelancer. Knock on doors, hustle for opportunities, make connections and keep your eye on the prize.
  48. Spend time in groups and forums. Be where people are asking for help and advice. Share your knowledge and you’re bound to create opportunities.
  49. Partner up. The more work you do with the more people, the more people get to experience what it’s like working with you. That’s word of mouth in the making.


So there you have it- 49 affordable freelance marketing ideas for you to use.

If you want more, you’ll just have to join me for a COACHING SESSION. 


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