This is part TWO of a series by Shaun Crowley, a marketing consultant, freelance copywriter, and communications manager for a major UK publishing company. (Last month: PART 1: How to frugally market your business) We're very happy to have Shaun as a new contributor to DT&G, and look forward to this series ....
PART 2: How to boost your freelancing job opportunities
... and increase your fee on every project
Last month's advice is best-practice promotion for all freelance artists. Now let's examine some ideas for artists who want to go a step further. How can you market your business to double, treble, even quadruple your regular income?
Offer something unique
You are most likely to be competing with other freelance artists in your area who offer a similar service and charge a similar fee. The fact that you might be better than them doesn't guarantee regular work or considerable fee increases. You need to offer something unique to stand out in an increasingly crowded freelance arena. The idea is simple: offer something unique about your service, and clients will remember you; they will also be prepared to pay more for a specialized service, so you can charge a bigger fee.
A unique aspect of your service might be a specific skill you specialize in or a layer of service you provide that others don't. For example, if you are a graphic designer, your unique selling proposition may be one of the following:
- Specialize in fast turnaround; i.e. newspaper advertisements designed and sent in a day
- Ability to work across media (Leaflet design, Animated presentation design, 3D design, web design)
- On call evenings and weekends: 24/7 design service
- Quick response promise: will respond to all emails and enquiries within 10 minutes
- Accuracy: a free proof-reading service before artwork handover
- Specialize in a particular style; i.e. exceptional picture research, Asian-appeal design, children's design, etc
Specializing in one particular aspect of your job doesn't mean you need to narrow the choice of services or design styles you can provide. Indeed, one unique aspect of your service could be its very broadness; that you can do everything from illustration to 3D design.
Even if you offer a highly specialized service, you can still market your general talents-you just make sure that the unique aspect of your offer is in someway highlighted, either when you phone potential clients, or written in your marketing materials.
A unique layer to your service will attract new clients and allow you to charge more. Once you've got new clients, you can offer a more general service too, resulting in maximum client lock-in. And of course, you'll be offering your general service at a higher price for those new customers.
Communicate the unique aspect of your service online
Once you have isolated your Unique Selling Proposition, present it upfront on your website. By repeating your unique offer several times within your copy, you'll increase your chances of your website being tracked by web-crawlers, boosting your chances of being found on the first few pages of the major search engines.
If you want to explore search engine marketing to market yourself on the Web, you need to start by choosing niche keywords in order to increase traffic to your website. www.wordtracker.com is a useful tool that enables you to see what keywords people are typing into the search engines, and how many websites are competing for the same keywords. It costs around $8 per day or $240 per year.
Find a profitable niche
It's no good offering a unique layer of service if people aren't interested in it. The key to finding new customers is to offer a specialized service that lots of people are looking for, but that other artists in the area don't offer.
If, for example, you offer a highly specialized service like "ancient coin photography", your number of potential clients will be small, thus limiting your profitability. However, if you offer a more general service such as "book cover photography", you compete against other freelancers and agencies offering the same service, thus reducing your chances of finding work. You need to find a profitable niche; offer a high-demand and specialized service to a lucrative segment of the freelance market where there is little or no competition.
To do this, you need to 1) Target the most lucrative market, 2) Research the market, and 3) Offer a specialized service that responds to the needs of your market.
1) Target your most lucrative market.
Suggestion: focus on marketing departments
The most profitable freelance artwork jobs are found in the marketing communications sector. If you can design (or provide artwork for) direct selling promotional material such as brochures, adverts, and websites, you can charge higher fees than designers who work mainly in other sectors such as publishing.
2) Research the market.
Suggestion: get to know the promotions controllers
Freelance designers with an understanding of marketing and copywriting are usually favored above designers with no marketing knowledge. That's because today's promotions controllers are likely to be project managers; intermediaries between copywriters and designers, and not necessarily creatives themselves. Today's publicity designers often have to work harder at interpreting what the client actually wants, and a knowledge of marketing communications often comes in handy.
Promotions controllers increasingly rely on copywriter-artist duos to conceptualize, write, and design direct selling promotional material, thus limiting the need for them to get involved unnecessarily mid-project. As a result, designers need to work more closely with freelance copywriters, and copywriters prefer to work with designers who are more in-tune with their way of thinking. How do you get in-tune? Simple, learn the basics of copywriting.
3) Respond to the needs of your market.
Suggestion: integrate copywriting into your artwork service and offer full marketing agency creative services Copywriting and design services have become interlinked in today's creative freelance arena. Briefing a copywriter-designer duo is a much more persuasive proposition for promotions controllers than briefing a copywriter, then briefing a separate designer.
However, copywriter-designer duos are really only found in expensive agencies. This leaves a gap in the market; where freelance copywriters and designers can get together to offer full marketing agency creative services, without charging full agency prices. If you are prepared to try a few new tricks, you can get yourself established in this profitable niche market and start making serious money.
How to offer a copywriting-design service...
Find yourself a copywriting buddy!
Buddying up with a copywriter is a good way of offering a copywriting service without doing the copywriting yourself. A copywriting buddy benefits you in two ways: Not only can you offer a cheap copywriter-designer alternative to expensive agencies (a much more persuasive proposition for clients-they know they can hand the whole project to you at a fraction of the cost compared to using an agency), your copywriting buddy will also keep you in mind to design any assignments he or she finds from other clients.
You'll get to know freelance copywriters as you work on freelance projects. Alternatively, do a Google search for copywriters in your region. Once you have identified a good copywriter, get in touch, send samples of your work, and ask if you can add their service onto your own website (and vice versa).
Why not offer full marketing agency creative services yourself?
Learn how to do the copywriting yourself and you really will hit the jackpot, easily doubling, trebling, even quadrupling your regular income. Why rely on a copywriting-buddy when you are perfectly capable of writing your own copy yourself?
Don't let copywriting scare you
Most artistic people find the prospect of writing advertising copy daunting, preferring to concentrate on what they know. But you don't need to be a born writer to be a copywriter. In fact, copywriting is 25% about writing and 75% about following a few basic rules that all copy adheres to. Click here to read a full list of copywriting rules.
You don't need to be a born writer to write marketing copy
If your writing skills are sufficient enough for you to write a comprehensible website for yourself, you're good enough to be a copywriter. With the help of a good teach-yourself book it should take you no longer than six weeks of part-time practice to learn the basics of writing effective marketing communications materials.
You're the perfect person to offer a copywriting service. Writing as well as designing publicity makes perfect sense for freelance artists.
1. It makes life easier for your clients, because they avoid the time-consuming project management, briefing time, and service searching they would have to put into finding a separate designer and copywriter.
2. You'll offer a consistency of message and aesthetic look that neither freelance copywriter nor artist could achieve on their own.
3. You'll effectively offer the same service as an agency, but at the fraction of the cost. Your clients win-and you win too: you'll be earning around $100 per hour, and each project could keep you busy for months. The result... more clients, happier clients, greater client lock-in, and up to four times more money.
Summary: how to boost your freelancing job opportunities and increase your fee on every project
The key to boosting your freelancing job opportunities and increasing your fees lies in offering a profitable unique service. The most lucrative market for graphic design assignments is in the marketing communications sector, and the most profitable unique offer for today's promotions controllers is to provide a copywriting-design service, as this responds to recent trends in the marketing communications sector.
- - Target the marketing departments of big companies with your promotion efforts.
- - Use postcards, emails, telephone, and ad-hoc company visits to promote your services.
- - Learn some basic copywriting rules to help you write your website and direct mail postcards.
- - Focus on an area you specialize in and offer a unique level of service to attract new clients.
- - Find a copywriting buddy to offer full marketing agency creative services and take advantage of a gap in the freelance market.
- - Learn how to write marketing copy yourself and you can offer full agency services on your own.
NEXT: How To Improve Your Publicity Design
Tune in next month, and we'll show you how to effectively kick your publicity design up into high gear. Hope to see you then...
Shaun Crowley, www.copywriting-designers.com/
Last month: PART 1: How to frugally market your business
Shaun Crowley has worked as a freelance copywriter, marketing consultant, and communications manager for a major UK publishing company. His new book 100 Copywriting Tips for Designers and Other Freelance Artists is available for download at www.copywriting-designers.com/
Download: How to make your copy easy to read
Copywriters have their own preferred ways of drafting out their copy. This chapter from Shaun's book provides tips help you to simplify your copy so it can be scanned easily by a casual reader, and so you can improve the fluency of your copy so it is easier to read. Chapter 12 PDF
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