Contracting Life

7 tips to market yourself as a self-employed contractor

When you’re a self-employed contractor, a big unpaid part of your job is to market yourself. You need to make…

Author Photo by Kingsbridge

When you’re a self-employed contractor, a big unpaid part of your job is to market yourself. You need to make sure you’re front and centre in the minds of potential clients so that opportunities come to you. However, talking ourselves up is not something all of us do naturally and for that reason, the idea of marketing ourselves can strike fear into the heart of even the most stalwart contractor.

Marketing yourself doesn’t need to be terrifying though, in fact it can be very straightforward with only a small amount of effort on your part which is, of course ideal when you’re busy with client work and don’t have hours and hours spare each week for marketing. We’ve pulled together some of the best ideas from our team – who know contractors better than they know themselves – to clue you in on how to market yourself as a contractor.

1. Identify your target market

This might seem like something you’ve already done in the sense that you know you work in banking and finance for example and so your target market is banking and financial services and organisations. However, you can drill down deeper to make sure you know specifically who your target market is.

Continuing with the banking and finance example, ask yourself what sort of banking and financial services you have experience with; Investment banking? Pensions? Insurance? You may have more than just one and that’s fine. You also need to look at what role you have had within those organisations. Were you based in a particular department or within a certain team?

When you’ve answered those questions, you have an idea of who your target market is in terms of both organisations and people, which means you can then get to work putting yourself in front of them – something that the next tips can help you with.

2. Review your LinkedIn profile

Your LinkedIn profile can be one of your biggest assets and if you set it up correctly it can be a great tool for easy yet effective marketing. At the very least you should make sure your profile is complete by including your current position, two past positions, education history, personal summary, list of specialisms, a profile photo and at least three recommendations from clients.

LinkedIn favours profiles that are 100% complete so getting all of your ducks in a row will help you show up in more searches.

Other things you can so to get LinkedIn in order include:

  • Add in licenses and certifications
  • Make connections in your industry
  • Post regularly
  • Engage with other contractors, clients and industry experts
  • Ask clients to leave recommendations
  • Link back to your website

For more tips on how to get your LinkedIn profile really working for you, take a look at our 8 tips to make the most from your LinkedIn profile.

3. Consider creating a blog

Having a blog does more for your business than just sharing news and tips – it helps make your website even more Google-friendly and therefore, easier to find in the right searches. Having a regularly updated blog shows Google that your site is not only active, but useful as well, helping it to rank higher. It also gives you original content to share on LinkedIn and other social media accounts.

Yes, it’s a big time investment but it will really help increase traffic and engagement and as a result, help get you more contracts. If you can afford to and writing really isn’t your forte, it’s even something you can outsource to a copywriter. As it happens, we’ve written on our own blog all about what a blog can do for your business.

4. Sort out your website

A website doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In fact, there are plenty of services online where you can design and host your site for a relatively small fee. Or, if you prefer, you can hire someone to do all of the hard work for you. Either way your site needs to be clear and do the point.

As a minimum, you want it to include your contact details, experience and maybe some case studies. You may also want to consider a testimonials section and a blog as mentioned above too. Depending on your industry, you may wish to have other, more sector-specific sections too. However, when just starting out, it’s a good idea to keep it simple.

5. Ask for testimonials

Testimonials are a great way to show potential new clients just how much your current and previous clients love working with you. If you’re putting them on your website, send some emails to clients who you’ve had a good relationship with asking if they would be happy to send a short testimonial that you could use.

If you’re using LinkedIn, they have a built-in service under Recommendations where you can ask people in your network for a recommendation and have them posted directly to your LinkedIn profile. You can also use the system to give recommendations to others as well.

6. Join networking groups

The humble networking group is an oldie but a goodie. Depending on your industry and sector, you may find it better to join either a local networking group or an industry-specific one but, either way, the goal is the same.

They’re a chance to meet up with other business professionals, make contacts and exchange business cards with the aim of generating word-of-mouth leads, usually over coffee or breakfast – what could be nicer?

7. Make friends with other contractors in your industry

While you might wonder why you’d make friends with your ‘competition’, it’s actually really sensible. It gives you a pool of people you can trust who you can pass work on to and who can pass work on to you. It’s win-win.

The other reason is that being a contractor can be lonely – you don’t have ‘work friends’ in the same way you would if you were a full time employee – so having friends who do the same sort of job in the same industry means you have people to talk to who understand your work life and who can give advice when needed. It’s so much better than just having a plain old network.

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