Turning your creative gifts into a full blown independent business is invigorating, exhilarating and everything in between. I know once you open up shop it can be just as thrilling as it is terrifying. But don’t worry because I got your back.
If you’ve recently left something behind in order to pursue this venture than I’m familiar with the challenges that may come up. Growing and promoting your business is one of the most intricate parts of the whole formula.
Since I’ve stepped away from designing 1-on-1 with clients in the past couple months I have been extremely inspired to help my fellow freedom seekers grow their own design businesses like wildfire. I know how overwhelming it can be at first and I wish someone was there to guide me through the ups and downs.
Good news for you – I am here to dance with you through your accomplishments and help you learn faster through the challenges.
Today, I’m going to guide you through 10 ways you can grow and promote your own freelance business. This post is solely to help you brainstorm unique ways to promote your new design business so you can stand out like the unique brilliant designer that you are. Take these ideas and run with them or use them as inspiration to create your own.
The beauty of being your own boss is that you are free to promote your business in a way that feels authentic to your and your brand. You can implement all your creative genius into attracting your favorite, dreamy clients.
Just like everything else I share here, mindset is extremely important when you are building your business so we also going to work on the emotional parts of promoting your business as well + a FREE worksheet! YAY!
1. Create a free branding and design course specifically for your ideal audience.
Use this as a way to educate your audience and audit their current brand. Often times, your ideal clients don’t fully understand how much of a difference it makes when they create an intentional brand that is a beautiful expression of who they are. You can use this design course to turn DIY’ers into clients by informing how important brand design can be for their online presence.
You can set this up as an autoresponder email course with your email provider. My favorite is Convert Kit, which I personally use for this. This not only helps you attract your dreamy clients, but also works at building your email list. YAY for multi-tasking!
2. Start a client referral and/or affiliate program.
Do you have a client that absolutely adores you and your work? Good news – they probably hang around similar lovely people who’d be awesome to work with too. You can reward them for spreading the word about you and your services. Give them credit towards your services or reward them with generous affiliate commission. There’s nothing quite as powerful as a friend saying “you MUST work with Sally”, especially in serviced-based businesses like yours.
This is an incredible way to grow your business and fill your time and client base with people you absolutely LOVE working with. Some designers build their businesses purely on this. Get out there and start rewarding your favorite clients for spreading the love.
3. Clear your sabotages of booking new clients.
Starting to promote your own business can bring up some fear and maybe make you break out in hives. I totally get it. Self-promotion still gets me nervous but having the tools to work through it and clear your inner sabotages will let you release what is holding you back like the true champ that you are.
Sometimes we pick up protection mechanisms along our life and biz journey because subconsciously we can think that going to next level can be dangerous. Dangerous for our egos, time, and self-worth. They can be both rational and irrational but either way, they are not serving you to grow and evolve in business.
The first step to releasing them is acknowledging them straight on. Take a deep look into what is holding you back from booking more clients. Is it the fear of putting yourself out there and getting rejected? Is it the fear of overbooking too many clients and not having enough time for yourself, family, or friends? Is it the fear of success and what that means for your comfort level?
For a lot of freelancing babes like you, I know booking too many clients can be a common fear. If you’ve ever been overworked in any past job, I’m sure you’re familiar with the prison-like feelings it can bring up. You can feel trapped and out of control and those feelings are far from fun and free. In order to get over this fear (or any similar one) is to acknowledge this, release it and thank it for protecting you. We’ll cover this more in #4.
If you’d like to go deeper in releasing your sabotages that may be keeping you from reaching your highest potential, I invite you to download my FREE worksheet that will help you identify what is holding you back so you can be on your way to releasing what is no longer serving you. Plus, this is part of my new workbook made specifically for new designers who want to transition into freelancing freedom. If you dig it, buy the full 60-page ebook + workbook here.
Trust me, I do this often in my business and without it I would still be eating chips on the couch while doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself.
4. Release fear and lead with the value you’re providing your clients.
Self-promotion of your new business can bring up some downright scary shit. I’m not even going to try to deny that it still scares the bejesus out of me sometimes (like I mentioned before). Over time I have used a couple techniques that I have put in my back pocket for when the ugly visibility monster rears its face and I’d love to share one that’s worked wonders for me.
When you start feeling the fear creep up as you promote your business, do your best to acknowledge it instead of pushing it deeper down inside of you. What you resists, persists. So acknowledge it, break it down into why you’ve carried the fear along with you, and then release the crap out of it.
Once you’ve released the fear, start thinking of yourself as a vehicle to provide the amazing value to your clients instead of having to prove to them how awesome you are. Obvi, I know you’re insanely awesome, but you let go that pressure when you take the focus off of yourself. It’s easier to share the awesome value you can provide your clients via their brilliant new brand or website you are creating for them than focusing on why you personally are the right fit for this client.
You may get better and better at promoting yourself as you go along but leading with this value first will definitely make it easier for you to put yourself out there. When you start feeling more comfortable you can add your personal awesomeness back in there.
5. Create a design-of-the-day.
You can create a logo, font combination, color palette, quote, or anything else you can dream up each day. Share this via your blog or social media.
Make sure these are Pinterest-friendly so you can spread your design seeds all over Pinterest. You can add them into blog posts and pin from there to make sure your designs are linking back to your site. This will allow your potential clients to see your abilities in something simple every day and know where to find you. You can run this for a week, a month, or however long you feel up to.
If you need a little direction to start, sign up for my friend’s daily logo challenge here to get your creative juices flowing.
6. Organize your portfolio like a boss.
Your portfolio is what will work for you to attract your dream clients 24/7. Making sure it’s organized and a clear expression of you and your design brilliance is an essential part of the whole formula. You want to create it in such a way that your potential clients can literally put themselves in your past clients’ shoes and see what amazing things you can do for them as well.
If haven’t had the opportunity to work with your dream clients, don’t worry… create self-initiated projects and add them to your portfolio. Imagine you are working with your most favorite clients and create “imaginary” projects that your new potential clients will see and love. If you want to step up your game and attract higher quality clients then your portfolio work is the first place to start. Once you finish with your real dream clients, make sure you update your portfolio ASAP so you can start booking even more fabulous clients.
Whether you work is self-initiated or real projects, make sure that you are creating pin-worthy images. Pinterest is an important tool for design freelancers because Pinterest is an inspiration hub for people looking for design ideas. It’s likely your potential clients are there shopping around for ideas and even designers to hire. If you want to make sure your images are pin-worthy, I wrote a blog post about it here.
7. Create insanely valuable, free, purposeful, consistent content.
This content can be created in whatever medium you enjoy working with and your ideal client can digest easiest. The most common way to create this content is via blog posts. You can use video, podcasts, or any other unique way you can get content out to your audience.
Keep in mind where your ideal client is and how they like to take in information. Do they frequent blogs often? Do you enjoy writing? If that’s a yes to both of those then there’s a match-made in consistent content heaven. Don’t be afraid to think out the box here. There are many ways to create awesome, free, consistent content and I know you must be full of genius ideas.
8. Outsource shit you hate doing and find people who love doing it.
You may never be 100% ready to start outsourcing or hiring someone new, but if you keep holding on to doing the shit you hate doing you are holding yourself back from growth. You can and will make more money when you find the right person to do the shit you hate and find something who actually loves doing it.
Why spend time doing something that makes you cringe when you can spend time focusing on doing the things you love and focus on what you’re truly a genius at. There is a possibility that you may get burned out in your business if you keep holding on to doing everything on your own.
9. Pick 2 social media platforms and master the heck out of them.
You can do anything but you can’t do everything. So here’s the deal – I know when you are first starting out in the wild world of social media you may feel pressured to be on all social platforms all at once, at all times of the day. AH! Don’t worry that gives me anxiety too and I truly only work 2 social media platforms still (Instagram + Pinterest).
I do this and highly, highly recommend you doing this because this way you can optimize and focus your time into doing 2 social media platforms and doing them insanely well. If you focused on all of them, you may go crazy! Wait, I take that back – you will go CRAZY. Listen – I know we’re all busy and so is our audience. Mostly likely, our audience isn’t on all social media platforms anyways so get rid of the pressure of doing it all.
So are you wondering which ones to choose? Well, take a deep look into where your ideal audience and clients hang out. From there, factor in which social media platforms you actually enjoy being engaged on. I absolutely LOVE Instagram (I even teach an e-course on it) and I know my audience hangs out there every day so it’s a win-win for everyone.
If you are just starting out building an audience on social media, I recommend committing to 2 social media platforms for a couple months and evaluating your results after you’ve put some time into this. Nothing happens overnight so really give it some time before you give up on one platform and start another.
10. Don’t give up and celebrate the hell out of your success (no matter how big or small!).
There will be ups in downs in this journey. As you can tell from reading this post, a good mindset can do more than just take you to the next level. It will allow you to thrive.
The #1 thing that can create a productive and happy mindset is celebrating your success no matter how big or small. This takes your mind from whatever drama you have going on into full-blown gratitude mode. It’s nearly impossible to have a lack-mindset when you practice gratitude and start celebrating your success.
Here are some ways you can start practicing gratitude and celebration. Start a gratitude journal! Things in writing are always more powerful than thoughts. Whenever you feel discouraged shift your focus to what is working out for you and your business. Or simply stop what you are doing right now and celebrate that you read this post because that means you truly care about your business.
Let me leave you with one last thing – You completely, absolutely, 100% got this! Get out there and spread your awesomeness to the people who need you most.