Treat Your Freelance Career Like a Small Business

Guest post by Nikki Siebel

Location and schedule flexibility, the freedom to choose your own projects, diversity, creativity, and zero micromanagement — all reasons you chose to freelance your talents and skills. Whether you’re a writer, graphic designer, programmer, or social media specialist, if you freelance online, you own a small business. And as a small business, your success depends on branding and marketing.

The market for online workers will be $2 billion by next year, predicts Staffing Industry Analysts. More than 4 million users are registered on oDesk, the largest online freelance staffing marketplace, and the number rapidly grows. Stand out and land gigs with the following tips.


Establishing your brand is the first step in creating buzz about your product or service. Branding includes aligning your name, logo, website, social media pages, and print collateral (thank you cards, business cards, direct mail). Build a professional website and blog that reflects your brand. A website also serves as your online identity where potential clients will see your work and interact with you. Display the highest level of quality.

Marketing Methods

Social media campaigns are an essential part of freelance marketing. If you’re an online freelancer, you must be present in social conversations across all platforms. And what about off-page marketing? Is it dead to you? It shouldn’t be. Getting your name out to brick-and-mortar businesses and companies in your area could bring in extra work, closer to home. Network in your real and digital communities with a portfolio and business cards.

To develop a marketing plan, define your ideal customer or client and whom you want to target. Then outline your services using the 4 Ps — product, price, placement, and promotion. Also, determine the marketing campaigns you’ll use, campaign costs and how to budget. For example, if you’re advertising your highly qualified freelance services in a large direct mail campaign, invest in a postage machine for your home office to save money in the long run.


Vine is Twitter’s popular video-based app where users can submit a six-second video that plays on a continuous loop. It was acquired by Twitter and re-released at the beginning of 2013. Top businesses embrace this social media platform as a hot marketing method. Although the six-second limitation may seem like a drawback, it’s ideal for savvy creatives. The time limit keeps messages direct and concise while promoting your brand.

Major brands such as GAP, GE, Wheat Thins, Oreo, JCPenney, and Lowe’s have all boarded the Vine ship and are swiftly sailing into the sea of positive exposure. Vine marketing campaigns have been spotlighted across the Internet and trend on news sites like Mashable. But the accessibility of Vine isn’t limited to major brands. That’s the beauty of it. Your freelance gig could skyrocket with the right Vine. Keep it professional. Funny is okay. But professional is a must. Leverage Vine to promote yourself in the following ways:

  • Engage followers in conversation
  • Promote your work for a client
  • Excite people about your product
  • Take people inside your “office”
  • Educate
  • Tell your story
  • Amuse your audience
  • Share your personality


GE Vine — “Innovation starts at the drawing board.”

Urban Outfitters Vine — “Where do your Chucks go?”

Nikki’s a native Oregonian who launched her own social media consulting business after baby No. 2 came along (baby No. 3 is on her way, and there will be no baby No. 4).