So much Freelance exposure has been commented on from getting your name out there in terms of web presence, so I thought I would just reflect on business opportunities that can be found from your local area and social circles.
In the past year I've had approx. 10 different freelance projects, ranging from design to development to SEO to web consultancy. About 7 of those have been clients who have found me on the interweb. Thats 30% more business due to local contacts, advertisement and word of mouth!
I am only a part time freelancer, which explains why the number of projects I've taken on is small, but it's shown me the importance of creating a local presence as well as an online one.
What? Creating an local presence as a web freelancer.
An increase in business oppertunities.
More varied work - Online there plenty of template coding or design but you may find it harder to get work from businesses and community projects that can interest you more.
For the teens, it's a good way of developing skills that will help your freelancing career in the future: Going to meetings with clients, paper and pen design and dicussion, selling yourself as well as your services. A lot of this is lost if delt with solely online.
It's more fun! Getting out of the house or office to go for a coffee with a client, I find, more engaging than sitting in front of a computer from 9-5.
It's much easier to get contracts discussed and signed in person than on the internet. Not everyone has a fax machine and not everyone wants to be sending huge envelopes of documents/contracts to each other. It reassures the client, if you can turn up in person, that you aren't some semi-serious, hobbyist.
When you have worked with a client in the area, say for a small business, their competitors may catch on from a footnote on the clients site or word of mouth that there is a freelancer in the area taking on work, and has experience in their field.
Particularly self employed individuals like it when a local person can be involved, it makes the situation more hands on, more proactive, rather than waiting for emails to come through. I have found that many entrepreneurs have these traits in common.
There is a greater chance of return business as the client has a better link to you than a web address. They may know where you live if you are working from home, they know who you are, they know they can trust you.
Time to make some plans.
Working from personal experience I found that being involved in the community is a great way to spread the word of your work. On the small scale, getting to know people in your neighbourhood, people next door. We want to increase your exposure as much as possible so we should start with the basics.
Flyers and advertisements are a good step to take. Something simple that you can add to a local notice board, contact information and a strap line. I'm not going to go into advertisement as there are people here who know infinitely more about it than I.
I had an increase in business from letting people in my church know that I was a freelancer. Find out a similar opportunity that you are currently involved with or could be involved in. You'll also find that when you do break into these circles and you start to get more business from them, word of mouth will spread quicker as past clients will pass on information about you to others in the group they know who are looking for work done. This is my experience any how.
On a practical note, getting business cards printed is a great idea if you haven't already... VistaPrint.co.uk - 250 free cards (pay for P&P)
Putting a contact number on your website and the area in which you live/country is a massive attraction for someone living in the same area because they will think "Oh that person lives in the other street!", the likely hood is that they will work with you because they can see you face to face and contact you regularly. Talking to someone in the flesh is much more of a comfort to a potential client than over an IM, email or even skype!
Remember it is effective to have both a local and online presence, they can support each other. I think this will be of most help to those of you who are new to freelancing or are in your teens. If you want to talk more on the matter, drop me a PM or talk to one of the experts here.
I'm no expert but I thought someone might benefit from my experience.