When I was pursuing a BA in Communications, marketing wasn’t something I thought I would be doing. Newly graduated and full of idealism, my dream looked like this: move to New York City, live in a tiny apartment in the East Village, promote indie bands, and change the landscape of the music industry. What did I want to do exactly? That part was unclear, mostly because I loved a bunch of different things: writing, strategic messaging, design, and social media. How could I just choose one? I didn’t end up moving to New York (does visiting The City of Dreams six times count?), but I did land a job with a local music festival and concert promotions company where I had my hand in a multitude of pots and eventually became their Director of Marketing. Since then, I’ve branched out to a few different roles and freelanced as my side hustle.
What I learned along the way is that the world of marketing is huge and full of possibilities; it comes equipped with a billion definitions. Finding your niche is one way to go, but in my experience, being skilled in more ways that one can land you more attention and create more opportunities to do more of what you love.
The ability to write concisely and effectively in various forms is a skill that’s widely welcomed, but in the case of a freelancer, it’s your arsenal that’ll set you apart. Here are a few different styles that’ll help you soar in all kinds of circumstances:
- Creative: blogs, social media copy, etc.
- Copywriting: messaging, tags, etc.
- Content: blogs, whitepapers, etc.
- Persuasive: blogs, emails, proposals, etc.
There’s a reason why there are so many courses available to improve your writing, and it’s worth it to brush up on your skills no matter what level you’re at.
As you probably already know, communication is a broad topic that marketing falls under. Aside from being knowledgeable in the different modalities and mechanisms of marketing, you’ll also be adapting your communication to suit your clients’ needs. Learning how to speak your clients’ language will help you negotiate better, create trust, and ultimately make the project process smoother.
An Eye For Aesthetics
Let’s be real, we live in a vain world. Knowing what sells is one thing, but making it look good in an effortless way for a specific audience and in a particular medium is a whole other ballpark. Keep an eye out for social media posts and blog articles that garner attention, and put these skills into constant practice:
- Photography and editing
- Graphic design
- Colour palettes and theory
- Videography and editing
- Creative storytelling
Luckily there are a ton of inexpensive/free apps these days that make production a lot easier:
- Storyluxe (iOS only)
- Poster Maker & Flyer Creator (iOS / Android)
- Pantone Studio (ios / Android)
- Phonto – Text on Photos (ios / Android)
You can have an eye for pretty things, but if that isn’t paired that with creating a good experience, the product won’t sell. 88% of online customers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience, so knowing what makes a website convert customers is highly valuable.
Search Engine Optimization will likely be a major component of your strategy to get your clients noticed online. This skill is super valuable because you’ll be saving your future clients time and money by including this in your services.
Despite this industry dating back to the 1900s, knowing the ins and outs of reputation management is still coveted. Being tactful in what to communicate, when, and how truly is a skill.
Putting Yourself Out There
Ahh, networking; an extravert’s haven and an introvert’s nightmare. If going to networking events and socializing with strangers isn’t entirely your bag of chips, there are other ways to put yourself out there:
- Set up coffee dates or one-on-ones with other freelancers
- Join online communities
- Start with your inner community and get them to put the word out
- Make sure your website or portfolio is updated with your best work and consider starting a blog or being more active on social media so that people can see more of your personality
On another note, building your own network of graphic designers, web designers, developers, writers, etc. is something your future self may thank you for. These people are your future collaborators and sub-contractors on aspects of the project you don’t have the time for or the skills you don’t have.
Administrative tasks are often a freelancer’s least favorite aspect. It’s boring, tedious, and you’re not billing any hours! But, again, your future self will thank you for setting up a solid foundation from the beginning. There are a ton of resources out there to help you set up proper systems for invoicing, templates for contracts and creating budgets.
Ability to Fly Solo and Collaborate Interchangeably
A lot of companies are outsourcing remote freelancers for their projects. Knowing when to step in with your expertise, collaborate, and work on your own is essential.