So, you’ve managed to put together your portfolio. If you feel ready to take the next step, it’s time to start getting some paid work under your belt! In this post, I’m going to be looking at ways of promoting your portfolio and getting paid work. This is one of the most important skills in any freelancer’s toolkit. It also happens to be the one that many of us find most difficult.
Why is promoting your portfolio and getting paid work hard? Well, when you’re working for yourself and by yourself, it’s easy to become trapped in a bubble. Self-promotion is a fine art and it takes practice to get right.
A lot of freelancers, myself massively included, struggle with imposter syndrome. This can be something that really holds you back if you let it.
I genuinely think one of the reasons I’ve grown at perhaps a slower rate than some of my peers is because of imposter syndrome. I know I can write well. I know I’m a good designer. I just struggle a lot with the idea of telling other people that. That is the key part of promoting your portfolio and getting paid work.
In this post, I’m going to look at ways you can overcome this if it affects you. I’ll also be sharing some ways you can grow your presence online and find those opportunities for paid jobs. There’ll be some affiliate links in this post to some places I’d recommend getting started on your hunt for paid work.
How do you start promoting your portfolio and getting paid work?
One of the great things about working within the digital sphere is that there are various ways to promote your portfolio. What’s really helpful here is to try and differentiate between yourself and your work. It’s hard when the two are inextricably linked, but if you begin to treat your work as a business, a separate entity to you, then things become a lot easier.
I always say that if my job were to promote someone else’s work and help them find jobs, I’d be great at it. However, when you’re doing it for yourself it can be challenging!
Fortunately, there are a range of online marketplaces, newsletters and social media tricks that you can use to your advantage as a freelancer.
These are networks or databases where you can effectively register yourself as a seller and offer your services to potential clients. They’re like the Yellow Pages (is that still a thing?) of freelancers! It’s free to list yourself with the vast majority of these marketplaces and they’re a great way to advertise your skills.
One you can start out with is Fiverr. It’s free to sign up, plus it’s really straightforward to set yourself up with a profile and get started with promoting your services. Something I like about Fiverr is that it lets you post individual services for people to choose from. This means that if you’re a multi-faceted freelancer, you’ve got flexibility. You can offer your design services alongside your writing or web designing skills, for example.
The variety of options available to Fiverr sellers is incredible. There are over 200 different offer categories for freelancers to promote their services in. This is ideal if you’re just starting out and haven’t quite worked out which area of freelancing is your strength yet.
Post some gigs in a few categories and the work will start coming to you.
Knowing where to look for freelance writing jobs can be difficult if you’re new to it. Luckily, there are some great newsletters for freelancers that will bring the jobs right to your inbox!
You can subscribe to freelance-specific newsletters and you’ll get a variety of curated opportunities emailed to you once a week. Sometimes you might have to wait for the right kind of opportunity. But, if nothing else, they help you work out who to contact when you want to pitch for a job.
Some of the newsletters I’d recommend getting started with are this one from Journo Resources, the Freelance Writing Jobs newsletter, this newsletter from MediaBeans and the Where To Pitch newsletter.
Social media platforms can be goldmines for freelance opportunities. More brands than ever before are looking to social media as a way to increase awareness. This is often done with influencer collaborations, but there are also plenty of opportunities for writers, designers, game devs, website builders – you name it!
Twitter, in particular, is great for this. Check out some of the opportunities posted within hashtags relevant to your work. For example, #journorequest often turns up requests from newspaper and media figures who need input from freelancers.
A daily browse of the #prrequest hashtag can reveal opportunities from brands looking for writers to provide them with PR. This can be in exchange for payment or gifted products.
If you’re a game designer or developer, check out #gamejobs or #gamedevjobs. For more generic digital jobs, then #digitaljobs is another great starting point. If you’re an artist, curate some of your portfolio pieces into your Instagram feed and share them frequently online. Different social platforms work best for different types of freelancers, so explore which ones work well for you.
Promoting your portfolio with media databases
Another way to promote your work is to build up a presence on an online media database. If you’re a writer, in particular, this is a great option. It’s actually really easy to do this with sites like Muck Rack, for example, which will curate your articles automatically. You can also add specific portfolio items manually to showcase your best work.
Other ways of promoting your portfolio and getting paid work
Word of mouth is often the best kind of promotion, so ask your early customers for a bit of feedback. This could be in the form of a testimonial, a recommendation on LinkedIn, a Facebook review or just a shout-out online.
The worst they can say is no. To be honest, if they do rate the work you’ve done for them then they’ll usually be happy to recommend you.
Make sure you include links to your portfolio and website in your email signature and in your social profile bios. If you’re part of any online forums, add them to your profile signatures. Simple things like this can drive traffic to your portfolio which could convert into paid work! You don’t always have to be loud and in people’s faces to make yourself heard.
Tell people what you can do. List yourself on Fiverr. Share your work on social media. Make self-promotion a priority, but don’t worry if you find it hard. If you can distinguish yourself from what you can offer in your work, then it all becomes much, much easier.
How do you handle promoting your work?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. It’s something that I often struggle with. In order to push through it though, you have to promote yourself regardless. Do you find it hard to promote your own work? What are some tips you’d share with other freelancers about landing their first paid jobs?
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