As freelancers, promoting yourself can be scary. There is something inherently sleazy feeling about saying “Here I am, come buy from me”.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you have a service that other people need, you are doing them a disservice to not share it with them.
Whether promoting yourself makes you feel uncomfortable or not at all, there are ways to do it effectively and ways that may turn other people off.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, in particular to Facebook groups. Being involved in Facebook groups is an incredible way to connect with potential clients and be of service to them.
But it’s not straight up promoting your stuff that will create that connection with the potential clients you want to see you.
Not only is it not the most effective way, but a lot of groups have rules to prevent it.
So how should you “promote” yourself then?
Here are the 3 ways I use to effectively get in front of my potential clients, without straight-up promoting myself:
Share a Story
In particular, a story that will inspire, educate or help your potential clients in some way. When I recently re-launched my web design website, instead of simply posting:
“Yay, I just launched my website! Come check it out!”
I took the the opportunity to share the things I learned during my relaunch. I did this as a post in a Facebook group I’m a part of and then turned it into a blog post (my most popular to date on that blog).
I showed the 3 main things I did differently with the website (hired a copywriter, got professional photos, focused on clarity) and showed how it increased my numbers (traffic & subscribers). I talked about the fears I had in investing in those things, and my advice to get over it.
The results from that Facebook post: I had close to 500 visits to my website and 32 new newsletter subscribers.
Would I have had that same result if I just said “come visit my website”? Probably not. And I know that because I have done it in the past and can clearly see the difference.
Of course- this completely depends on the size of audience you have for a post like that and the type of audience. If it is a support group for your industry, then it’s unlikely other members would be your potential client. And simply sharing your excitement that you launched your new site (without a story) is great.
The point is to share your story generously, without expectations (of traffic or subscribers or new clients) and the result might end up surprising you.
Be of Service
Being of service to potential clients is the best promotional strategy there is in my experience. In fact, even being of service to everyone can have amazing effects. Because it’s not just your potential clients you will get work from. It’s the connections you make and the people you help that will refer you. There’s nothing better than referrals, and people only refer nice people, especially helpful ones.
The ways to be of service are endless. Instead of spending mindless hours scrolling through feeds on social media, do it intentionally. Constantly ask yourself, how can I be of service online today.
Here are some ways that have been incredibly useful for me:
- Answer people’s questions on social media, give advice from your experience and offer words of encouragement. If you’ve written a blog post on the topic they are struggling with, give them the link.
- Do PIF (pay it forward) offers. I once offered to design & setup Facebook page tabs for the first 3 people to respond to a post. I had over a 100 responses. Many of which understood they were too late for the offer and asked how they could hire me to do it for them. Extra bonus: quite a few Facebook likes and newsletter subscribers. The point is to do it with no expectations. What small service can you do for a few people that would help them tremendously?
- Take the conversation into private message. Offer to help in more detail than you could typically do in a Facebook comment, for example.
The more you give, the more you’ll receive. In clients, referrals, and woo woo general happiness. I promise.
Ask for Feedback
Without linking to your stuff.
I recently came up with a course idea (I’m full of them these days!) but really didn’t know if it was a problem people needed solved.
So I ask in a Facebook group- telling them the idea and asking what questions they have and if this is something they would be interested in.
Not only did I get the feedback I was looking for (400+ comments!)- but surprising side-effect, the people (55!) that were really interested took the time to click on my profile, find my website, and optin to my newsletter.
I didn’t ask them to do it. I didn’t plan on them doing it. I genuinely was researching and gauging interest in a potential offer.
A common way to gauge interest is to set up a newsletter list and ask people to optin if they want more information. Although this is great to do on your own site, in Facebook groups in particular, this can come off as too promotional, and the results will not be the same.
So be open. Ask for feedback. The more people see you and what you’re up to (and not through straight-up promoting yourself) the bigger your online presence will become.
You will grow your tribe (and business) best by stepping back from the idea of having to promote yourself and simply putting yourself out there in the most genuine way possible.
But you have to put yourself out there.
No growth will come from standing on the sidelines, reading through social media feeds and being fearful of “having to promote” yourself.
In fact, just strike “promote” from your vocabulary and replace it with “be of service”, “share your story”, “ask for feedback”. And do it more often.
The rest will fall into place.
I want to hear from you:
Do you worry about having to promote yourself?
What are your favorite ways to promote yourself without promoting yourself?
Let me know in the comments!