Bredemarket tips for aspiring freelancers (the 8/23/2021 10:15am edition)

I have marketed myself as the biometric content marketing expert and the biometric proposal writing expert.

Now I’m marketing myself as the freelancing expert.

“But John,” you may ask, “how can you do this? Yes, you are making money freelancing, but there are freelancers who are making a LOT more money than you are, who are working from exotic locales and are well known.”

Well, at least the locale is exotic, even if the hardware is very 20th century and the scribe only has anonymous Wikipedia/Flickr fame. By Rita Banerji – flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18222218

Before I succumb to imposter syndrome, let me assert that I DO have some tips to offer based on my experience. Frankly, all of us do. Even if you’ve only been freelancing for a week, you’ve probably learned something that someone who has never freelanced would NOT know. So share it.

Before you read my tips, note an important point. I’ll caveat my tips by stating that MY experience may not necessarily apply to YOUR experience, and that sometimes it’s good to ignore the experts (or so-called experts). You need to do what is best for you.

How do I know that I have tips to offer?

Because someone whom I met via the Freelancers Union (see the link on the word “ignore” above) just asked me for advice, and by the time I was done answering her questions, I had written a LONG email.

So I figured that I’d share parts of the email (the portions that were NOT specific to her) with you.

I almost considered putting the Bredemarket Premium tag on this and making you pay to read it, but I’m not THAT much of a freelancing expert. (Yet.)

We’ll get to the whole topic of personal pictures later. This picture was taken in 1980 or 1981, but doesn’t necessarily reflect my business or show my expertise. (And yes, I’m terrible at darts.)

As I said, these are edited versions of my responses to the Freelancers Union contact, with some additions as I thought of other things. (I forgot to mention to my Freelancers Union contact that repurposing is important, and iteration is important.)

So, here goes.

If I offer multiple, potentially very different services, is it too overwhelming to list all of my services on a single page?

For purposes of this discussion, I’m going to assume that the “single page” is a LinkedIn company page or a Facebook business page. (In many cases, it’s best to separate your freelancing page from your personal page. Again, some disagree with me.)

If you think that all of your multi-services are too much to list on one page, then you have the option of creating “showcase” pages to highlight specific aspects of what you do. For example, if you wanted to differentiate two different sets of services, you could create two separate showcase pages.

Using myself as an example, I have segmented my customers into markets: the identity (biometrics / secure documents) specific market (my primary market), the general technology market, and the general business market. I don’t even target the general business market on LinkedIn (I do on Facebook), but I’ve created showcase pages for the other two.

The Bredemarket Identity Firm Services page on LinkedIn. Of course, your view of this page will vary; I doubt that 116 of the showcase page’s followers are in YOUR network.

I have a similar structure on Facebook.

In addition, my website also has targeted pages. I won’t show examples here (EDIT: I didn’t share links in my original email to the contact, but I did share links in this new post), but I have a page that’s just targeted for general identity, multiple pages targeted for the biometric aspect of identity, one targeted for the content marketing aspect of biometrics, one for the proposal writing aspect of biometrics, etc. Therefore, if I’m talking to someone about biometric proposals, I can just send the link to the biometric proposal writing expert page.

I actually market on Twitter (@jebredcal), but I don’t go into that level of segmentation there. In fact, my Twitter account isn’t even solely devoted to my consulting. In that case, I don’t feel it worthwhile to create segmented Twitter accounts for my various submarkets, but it may be different for others. 

However you slice and dice your market, dedicated pages for specific market segments allow for a more targeted experience. And the good thing is that it’s all free. (I actually pay for my website, but it could be free if I were fine with a mycompany.wordpress.com URL.)

How do I compensate for my liabilities?

TL;DR talk about your strengths.

In my case, I compensate for what I don’t do by emphasizing what I do.

I did not draw this myself. Originally created by Jleedev using Inkscape and GIMP. Redrawn as SVG by Ben Liblit using Inkscape. – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1692938

For example, I do NOT create graphics (stick figures exhaust my capabilities), so my marketing materials emphasize my creation of text.

In addition, as I stated earlier, I emphasize the markets that I DO address – I talk a lot about biometrics/secure documents/identity, some about technology, and a little bit about general business.

And I don’t talk about graphics at all. (Whoops, I guess I just did.)

I’d like to use a photo of myself to personalize my service. What photo should I use?

If I were you, I’d take a minute to think about the picture you want to use. How will this picture show that you are the best provider for your specific service in the entire universe? What should be in the background?

  • For example, if you’re a master coder, should you have a computer screen behind you with something specific on the screen?
  • If you’re a writer, should you have a bookcase or perhaps an entire library behind you?
  • If you’re a certified forensic expert, should you show a murder scene behind you? (Maybe not.)

Look at it from the point of view of a potential customer – would I want to do business with this person? 

Of course, different marketing efforts call for different pictures. I actually had a reason to use the 1980-1981 t-shirt picture that I posted toward the beginning of this post: I was talking about the fact that I have been writing since my college days. And at other times, I use a Users Conference picture in which I am talking about a smartphone app that I populated. It just depends on the context.

What question from the Freelancers Union contact received a response that I am not posting here?

She asked one additional question about other reasonable ways to get her service out there. With one exception, I chose not to post my full response to that question here for two reasons:

  • First, my response contained some very specific details about the nature of my business that I have chosen not to share with the general public. If you really want to hear that part of the discussion, I’ll create a Bredemarket Premium post and make you pay to read the response.
  • Second, my response was a very good example of “your mileage may vary.” For example, I noted that I have not had success with a particular freelancing service, but noted that many other people HAVE had success with that same service.

So what’s the exception? In response to a specific comment that my contact made, I offered this response:

You never know when your existing network will yield opportunities.

I’m not going to print the rest of the paragraph from my email to my contact, but suffice it to say that the majority of Bredemarket’s business has been won as a result of people who knew me at IDEMIA, MorphoTrak, Motorola, or even Printrak.

  • Some worked with me and became “free agents” at the same time that I did.
  • Some worked with me but left long before I did.
  • Some used to work for competitors.
  • Some are now working for large companies, others small companies, and others are sole proprietors.
  • In some cases my contact directly asked me to consult, while in other cases the my contact talked to other people (sometimes in other companies) who asked me to consult.

In the end, you never know when those contacts you made months or years or decades ago may result in something new…not just in business, but in life.

P.S. One more thing: content calendars.

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