This is a follow up post from The Ideal Client and Project – Freelance Introspection, continuing my introspective journey as I iterate on my various online presences that I’d roughly call my “personal brand”.
Taking a Step Back#anchor
In writing that previous post I realized that before I can think deeply about an “ideal” client or project I needed to work on who I want to be as a freelance web developer some more first.
Some new questions emerged:
- How can I quantify an ideal project without first determining what I’d professionally like to focus on?
- How do I quantify an ideal client? Then, how do I make myself discoverable to them?
- Conversely, how can I position myself as an ideal candidate for them?
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with several people from all over the world these past few weeks. Because most of these conversations centered around consulting, they naturally touched on all these topics.
In order to make sense of all those meeting notes, I’ve compiled people’s suggestions under three general topics, each relating to one of the questions above.
I think this is similar to the common phrase Go to Market Strategy, having a solid understanding of what client size, industry, project types, and focus areas I’m best suited for (and most interested in) pursuing. Only then will I effectively be able to craft a message that reaches and resonates with them.
Set a Focus Area#anchor
Being a generalist is often a great quality to have, but just about every topic noted below gets harder without a particular focus point to start with.
“What are you known for?” Ideally, you’re marketing yourself for the work you enjoy most and are known for.Leto Papadopoulos, Career Coach with the Muse
Be focused and niche down, be specific about “here’s what I do”Jim Gianoglio, Cauzle Analytics
Make it Memorable#anchor
This is all about the messaging of that focus area so it’s memorable to potential clients. Even if they’re not looking now, they have a greater chance of remembering me later when they are.
Let them picture you doing the work – share an example of how you’ve done this.Leto Papadopoulos
“Why are you doing this?” Need to be able to explain quickly and succinctly.
Get better at explaining what you enjoy most and how that benefits them and their companyDan Donald, Here In The Hive
What’s the one sentence tagline? “I want you to think of this when you think of me“Jim Gianoglio
I could have the most perfect website and LinkedIn profile the world has ever seen, but it wouldn’t mean much if no one is looking at it.
It’s no secret that regular blogging has a huge impact on SEO, and searching is a great way to get more serendipitous connections from people that need exactly what I can provide.
Consider using [blog post] titles that are things non-tech people would search for, could lead to projects.Leto Papadopoulos
There’s no substitute for good ol’ fashioned networking. Lately I’ve been finding some success especially with LinkedIn, less so with other platforms. Here’s some advice from Leto about other networking avenues to explore.
- Think locally: who can you meet with? Get in front of people!
- Givers gain: come out of every meeting with something. (idea, lead, introduction), but also see how you can help others. Be a resource.
- Set regular meetings with people you connect with
- Reach out to old colleagues from previous roles. Let them know you would like to help with project work – share a couple areas you can help with.
Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA)#anchor
Essentially, purchasing an established company and using that existing network to hit the ground running more quickly. While I’m on the fence about whether I’d be interested in this personally, it does seem a great way to quickly ramp up in the discoverability department.
Thanks to Jim Gianoglio for introducing me to this topic. Jim also shared a couple resources to start with if there’s interest in learning more:
- Buy Then Build: How Acquisition Entrepreneurs Outsmart the Startup Game book by Walker Deibel
- Models of Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Stanford Research Study by R. Ellis, Lacey Wismer
Positioning as an Ideal Candidate#anchor
I think this is often referred to as Value Proposition. As a freelance web developer, it’s important that my expertise, personality, and availability are front and center when potential clients come across my website or social profiles.
Speak in Outcomes#anchor
It’s great to list technologies I’m proficient in and places I’ve worked, but those don’t speak to what I can offer in terms of outcomes. It’s an understanding of the potential outcomes that people really need in order to see me as an ideal candidate.
“What is the outcome for them?” “I do [x] so you get [y]” – What would a business leader need to hear to help them understand the benefit of what you’re offering?Dan Donald
While it’s difficult sometimes to speak freely about past projects, there’s no substitute for a strong case study. As Razvan points out below, even if you need to anonymize some of it.
may be even with work you did for previous employers though as those deliverables are not your IPR anymore [you] won’t be able to name, but you can still reference the client problem, solution, and benefits.Razvan Popescu
Quotes from peers and past clients can go a long way towards demonstrating expertise. They can highlight personal qualities better than case studies, and gives a little window into what it’s like to work with me.
Work in Progress#anchor
Just like I mentioned in the last post, I’m still figuring this all out and don’t have great answers yet. But I think I’m getting closer!
Writing about my progress has helped me make sense of all my thoughts, compile the great feedback from others, and get myself on the right track.
In the past weeks I’ve
- Added a testimonials section, as well as a couple randomized on some key pages.
- Tweaked some copy on Services, added a dedicated Resume page, and shared my personal & professional Mission Statement.
- Compiled a list of blog post ideas, some more (like this) about my freelance process and several others that deep dive into technical web development topics like Eleventy and Web Components
A sincere and enthusiastic thank you for reading all the way to the end. While I have your attention, I’m still looking for freelance web development opportunities so if you have something coming up I’d love to hear more about how I can help bring it to life!
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