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8 Ways to Market Yourself as a Freelancer

8 Ways to Market Yourself as a Freelancer

Building your personal brand through an online portfolio has never been as important as it is today. More than simply showcasing your latest works or achievements, it’s a way to stand out among a sea of talented, go-getters.

An online portfolio is recommended not only for freelancers but also for career shifters, college students and basically anyone who wants to make their presence known on the Web. Now, it’s easier than ever to be discovered through your personal blog or website. So easy in fact, that a LOT of people are doing it.

But competition doesn’t stop with the hundreds of domains being created every minute. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), there are more than 53 million Americans who are entering the freelance industry. That means one in every three.

So how do you ensure maximum success with your online portfolio if you’re competing with millions?

The answer is simple: make it search engine-friendly.

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1. Pick a Suitable Platform for Your Online Portfolio

It all begins with the platform you choose.

  • First, identify your NICHE and search for suitable platforms in that industry.
  • Second, check for FEATURES – especially for mobile compatibility.
  • Third, see if it fits your BUDGET and unique CONTENT requirements.

For example: if you’re a blogger or researcher, sites like Contently would suit your needs best, because it was built specifically with this type of content in mind. For artists (i.e. designers, photographers, graphics creators, etc.), try Foliodrop or IM Creator. Don’t forget to check if the platform offers a FREE version (with the ability to upgrade anytime).

2. Decide on a Simple, Readable Domain Name

The K.I.S.S. rule always applies, especially when it comes to choosing domain names OR creating URLs for inner pages of your online portfolio. Simple, readable URLs perform better because:

  • People know immediately what to expect.
  • Search engines (like Google) prefer them due to usability.

The rule of the thumb is to go with your name or initials (i.e. algomez.com, alanson.contently.com). But if you want to spice it up, you can include your expertise or related terms that give clues to what you do (i.e. seoexpert.algomez.com, ask-al.com). This is recommended if you have a common name.

3. Optimize Text AND Images

Keywords are NOT obsolete – you just need to know HOW and WHERE to use them for maximum effect within your online portfolio. To know which keywords are being searched within your industry, use Google’s Keyword Planner tool. Download the results, and pick the ones that are most relevant for use in your site.

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keywords-google-planner

    But don’t limit yourself to keywords. Long-form relevant terms sprinkled in strategic places around your portfolio can help increase chances of better visibility on the Web. For instance: if you’re an SEO consultant, try scattering ‘SEO consultant services’ or ‘what does an SEO consultant do’ within your blog.

    You may also use these keywords as filenames and alt-tags for photos in your online gallery. Optimizing images is a basic SEO technique that will help boost chances of your own images being found on search results.

    4. Include Proper Tags and Categories (for Blogs and Galleries)

    If you have a personal blog or a photo gallery, grouping posts under the right category with appropriate tags does several good things, such as:

    • Help users easily and quickly find your content
    • Help search engine crawlers properly align your content with relevant search terms

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    blog-category-tags

      It’s a small act, but it has a big impact in the long run. Keep posts and photos organized for faster archiving as well.

      5. Submit Your Online Portfolio for Indexing

      With all the content that’s being created every minute, it’s not surprising that sometimes, search engines take a while to include your online portfolio (and its updates) in their database. Help Google out a bit by submitting new pages to the Search Console.

      google-console-submit

        If your portfolio is a full website, you can also make and present a Sitemap for faster indexing. Once your page has been indexed, it will appear on the search results.

        6. Include Your Link in Author Bios

        Are you writing or contributing content to other websites? Make sure to promote your online portfolio by including a link in your author byline, along with your social media accounts. This helps spread the word about your work best projects.

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        7. Share Your Portfolio on Social Media

        Of course, don’t forget about social media! Pin your online portfolio link to your Twitter page for maximum visibility. Do the same on Facebook if you have a business account (you can’t Pin on a personal account). Add a link to your LinkedIn profile as well.

        A clever tip? Include a link when creating social media headers for your profiles.

        twitter-header-online-portfolio

          This is a beautiful and creative way to promote your portfolio without putting in a clickable link. Plus, it’ll be more noticeable as it’s usually the first thing people lay eyes on whenever they visit a social media profile.

          8. Stay Consistent

          Ensure that your contact details and URLs are correct. Keep them up-to-date and consistent. This is especially important if you’re managing multiple accounts (your website, blog, social media, etc.). Whenever you can, link them together so that search engines can recognize them as belonging to the same person.

          Basic SEO will make your online portfolio user- and search engine-friendly. Don’t worry about NOT being active everywhere. Focus your attention on your online portfolio (count your personal blog, if you have one) and maybe two to three social media accounts. This ensures maximum output from every platform you’re maintaining.

          Now, you’ll be ready to be seen on the Web, across any device, anytime.

          More by this author

          Al Gomez

          SEO Expert and Entrepreneur

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          Last Updated on December 3, 2019

          7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

          7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

          I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

          It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

          A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

          1. Define Career Success for Yourself

          Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

          What does career success mean to you?

          This is about defining your career success:

          • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
          • Not what people may think of you
          • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
          • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

          “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

          When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

          There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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          • Work-life balance
          • Opportunities for growth and advancement
          • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

          Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

          • What do you mean by work-life balance?
          • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
          • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

          Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

          • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
          • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
          • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

          Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

          • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
          • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
          • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

          Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

          Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

          What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

          2. Know Your Values

          Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

          There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

          Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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          • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
          • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
          • Put the words on your fridge
          • Add the words on your vision board

          Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

          3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

          When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

          How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

          Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

          • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
          • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
          • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
          • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
          • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
          • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

          Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

          • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
          • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
          • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
          • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

          Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

          By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

          4. Determine Your Top Talents

          What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

          What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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          What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

          What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

          What do you notice?

          5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

          Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

          I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

          Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

          Keep these words visible too!

          Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

          6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

          Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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          Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

          “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

          7. Manage Your Own Career

          Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

          Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

          Summing Up

          For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

          Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

          Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

          1. Define Career Success for Yourself
          2. Know Your Values
          3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
          4. Determine Your Top Talents
          5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
          6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
          7. Manage Your Own Career

          “When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

          Good luck and best wishes always!

          More Tips on Advancing Your Career

          Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

          Reference

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