The age of the Internet has given rise to the kind of workers the world never thought would gain so much traction: freelancers. These are people who use their varied skills to earn enough income without being bound by a contract tying them to only one company. They can collaborate with clients without the long-term commitment. It’s the ultimate freedom—or is it?
Like any job, freelancing has its fair share of challenges. Freelancers are not exempt from dealing with clients, conflicts in schedule, competition, and all those things nine-to-five employees face. If you’re a freelancer, you know this to be true.
Among the many hardships that freelancers face is one that can make or break their career: attracting and keeping clients. Both online and offline freelancers are faced with tough competition. To address this problem, you must stay one step ahead of your competitors. But how?
If you have access to the Internet, which I am sure you do, try using paid online advertising to get the ball rolling. The age of cold-calling is over, and thankfully, we have a new option: pay-per-click advertisements. Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is one of the most common marketing schemes for small businesses. It works like a billboard ad in the sense that you pay for your space, but it gives you a much wider audience. This is especially beneficial to freelance online writers since we generally can’t employ the same marketing strategies as big businesses and brands.
What are the benefits of PPC marketing?
Unlike print advertising, PPC can instantly get your freelance writing services onto the radar of a large number of potential leads. It will give you the power to target your ads to a specific audience.
Because it is customizable, you can set it up to show your ad to specific areas and at certain times of the day. Best of all, you will only pay for the service each time a viewer clicks on your ad. This way, you’re only paying for those who are more likely to convert to actual clients. You even have the freedom to adjust your budget or redefine your target audience at any time, and the ad will reflect the changes almost instantly. It’s a great way to put yourself out there with maximum return on your investment.
Where do I set up my PPC marketing plan?
There are different types of PPC available on the Internet. You can go for search engine PPC advertising or social media PPC advertising—it depends on your industry and niche. For example, freelance writers may want to opt for search engine PPC marketing, as clients are more likely to turn to Google or Bing to look up writing services.
Search engine advertising provides targeted traffic and is keyword-driven. Leads are generated by people typing certain search words. Meanwhile, social media marketing is more interest-driven and appeals to people who share the same interests.
Whichever the case and whatever PPC you think will suit you best, here are the best PPC marketing channels that every freelancer can take advantage of to find more clients.
Nowadays, more than 80% of online searches are done through Google. It has dominated the search engine market and is undeniably the most popular search engine.
Google AdWords is the PPC marketing system that Google offers businesses. Ads occupy the first four spots on the search results page and are shown again after ten organic search results. If a user clicks on your ad, they are redirected to your site or page, and Google AdWords charges you the corresponding fee. Advertisers bid for the top spots on the results page. The higher you are on the list, the better exposure you have.
As a freelance writer, you may not have a budget as large as big brands to bid for the top position, but setting up a PPC campaign can help you get the word out there without poking a hole in your wallet. You have the opportunity to attract more clients and only pay for those who are interested enough to click on your ad.
Most people who have access to the Internet have a Facebook account. We talk to friends and family, we share photos, we share memes, we organize events, we sell products—almost everything and everyone can be found on Facebook. So can your next client. It’s only a matter of getting the word out about your freelance writing services.
Facebook Ads are cheaper than almost all other online advertising options, and their reach is almost limitless. You can target your ad by behavior, interest, demographics, connections, you name it. You can even tailor it according to age range and location. This is a great way to show up in a potential client’s newsfeed and get noticed.
Be sure to identify who your target audience is and be as specific as you can. What do you specialize in as a freelance writer? Copywriting? SEO? Any specific niche you are best at? You have to know your target audience’s age group, interests, and location in order to reach them with your ads.
Next, do your research. Find out what days and the specific time your target audience is likely to be online. Create your ad based on their online activity. What are their problems and needs? What questions do they ask in relation to the service that you provide? What images do they like to see? Or maybe they would be more attracted to videos? Do they like memes? Would they respond to Facebook quizzes? People go on Facebook to be distracted, so be sure to provide them with the best distraction.
It is important to tailor your ads carefully to make it more effective. While this is true for all marketing campaigns, it applies especially to Facebook ads.
LinkedIn is the professional older brother of Facebook. You will find even the most high-ranking executives on LinkedIn. Ads posted there will allow you to reach the key professionals in your industry. You can target your ad according to company names, company industry, company size, job functions, job titles, membership levels, and the like. If you are targeting professionals of a specific age or gender, you also have the option to target your ad to that demographic. On LinkedIn, you will see industry front-runners in the niche where you want to establish yourself as a writer.
LinkedIn’s PPC runs much higher compared to Facebook, at $5 per click. To get your money’s worth, be as specific as you can so your ad will generate higher quality leads. It is a good idea to segment your ads according to how you’ll be posting. You can also use sponsored updates, which appear in users’ newsfeeds, giving you premium placement.
Twitter offers the following advertising schemes:
- promoted tweets
- promoted accounts
- promoted trends
The cost will largely depend on the type of ad you choose.
To promote a tweet, you will have to pay every time a user clicks the Favorite button, retweets your post, or replies to it. You will not have to pay per impression, which is the number of feeds your posts will show up on. A promoted tweet costs around $1.35 per engagement.
Promoting an account is essentially identifying a target audience to which Twitter will promote your account. This will work when you want to gain more followers that may be interested in your business. You pay per confirmed follower a fee of $2.50–$4.00.
Promoted trends, used typically by bigger companies, appear in the Trends section of Twitter and cost up to $200,000 per day.
While this may not be the most cost-effective PPC option for freelance writers, Twitter allows you to interact up close and personal with potential clients. This is still worth looking into if you’re willing to spend a little more on engagement.
How do I write my ad copy?
That being said, all ad copy is not created equal. The PPC campaign may grab a potential client’s attention, but your copy still holds the power of keeping them interested until they convert. Here are a few quick and easy tips to write better copy for your ads:
- Hint at your services’ benefits. What will your client get if they hire you as a freelance writer? How will you help their business? Are you an SEO expert? Do you have other skills? Capitalize on that and highlight it in your ad. Remember to answer this question that most clients will ask: “What’s in it for me?”
- Hint at your competitors’ weaknesses and gaps. This doesn’t have to be blunt and outright, but you must mention why they should choose you instead of other freelance writers.
- Get to know your audience. Target a specific group or industry and focus your message on them by using “you” instead of “we.” It is also important to understand your medium—that is, which PPC platform are you putting your ad in?
- Don’t forget a call-to-action. After you’ve laid out all your strengths and your competition’s weaknesses, make it count. Don’t leave your audience hanging and confused as to what you want them to do. Include a clear call-to-action that catches the eye.
- Lastly, proofread. Proofreading will save you a lot of trouble, and it always pays to double-check your work before you release it on the Internet where it is much harder to take back.
Any marketing plan will only initially get the client’s attention, then it’s up to you to keep the client. Remember to be true to what you promised in your ad and keep your integrity as a freelancer. After all, a good reputation goes a long way.