You love your freelance website. It’s visually striking and easy to navigate. The content is fresh and informative. You’ve got the latest search engine optimization techniques working for you night and day. So why isn’t the site generating the return traffic or client leads that you’d hoped for?
Assuming your site is truly as rocking as you believe it to be, it may just need a good jumpstart. For sure, it takes time to attract attention, build an audience and convert customers. But nothing says you can’t help speed the process along. In fact, it’d be foolhardy not to. Check out these five great ways to kick-start a steady flow of traffic to your site and solicit more leads for your freelance business.
- Offer a Free Special Report
These days you can hardly visit a website without some pop-up appearing, urging you to download a free special report stuffed with juicy tips and information. The pop-ups may be irritating, but the concept behind them is smart. Offering visitors free, valuable information in a 5-10 page report is an effective way of attracting potential clients to your site. Why? A couple of reasons. A free report gives prospective clients a reason to visit your site. Use the special report as a lure at networking events, during cold calls, or in direct and email marketing campaigns. Even if your target isn’t in the market for your services at the time, the information the report offers could be tempting enough to persuade prospectives to come to your site to download it. While they’re there, just maybe they’ll take a closer look at your portfolio and services – and remember you the next time they need someone with your expertise.Special reports can also establish you as an expert in a particular field. Let’s say you’re a web designer specializing in building sites for personal injury lawyers. If you produce a report highly targeted to your audience (e.g., “10 Web Designs Personal Injury Lawyers Should Avoid at All Costs,”) you can come to be known as the web designer for personal injury lawyers. Prospective clients will begin to seek you out on the basis of your expertise.
- Add an E-Course to Your Site
With the advent of autoresponder services such as MailChimp and KickStartCart, e-courses have become increasingly popular. An e-course is an online learning course in which you’d share tips and techniques on a particular topic with your target audience. Most courses are conducted via email. Interested persons could sign up for the course on your site by entering their email address into a form, and the autoresponder service would begin to send them a sequence of emails (your lessons) for a predetermined length of time.Like a special report, an e-course serves as an excellent reason for prospective clients to visit your site and can solidify your position as an expert in your field. But it has one major additional advantage. Because an e-course can extend over a long period of time –anywhere from several days to several months – you have a great opportunity to build a relationship with the participants of the course. Familiarity breeds business, goes the old marketing saw, and your former students may become your future clients. Moreover, if you encourage interaction and feedback from the participants, you’ll get a clearer understanding of the topics your general audience would like to learn about and discuss.
- Conduct a Survey
Another way to encourage readers to visit your website is by conducting a survey or taking a poll. Surveys and polls are an outstanding way to discover the content that interests your audience, the effectiveness of your site, or gain insights into an issue that affects your audience. For example, if you’re a freelance photographer who covers weddings, you might conduct a survey of engaged couples or newlyweds on big turnoffs when it comes to a wedding photographer. You could score a few clients from conducting the survey alone. However, the real potential to pull in client leads lies in publishing the survey results. You could publish the results on your blog, sure. But you could also provide the results in a short special report, which would be available for download on your site or via email. This, of course, would allow you to reap the benefits that come with offering a free report.Moreover, if the sample size is large enough and the findings sufficiently intriguing, you could even write an press release highlighting your conclusions. Send your press release to relevant magazine editors, journalists and bloggers, and just maybe the survey results – and your site – will receive a mention in a widely-read publication. You’d be golden.Check out sites such as SurveyMonkey or PollDaddy for learning more about how to set up an online or email poll.
- Host a Webinar
Not big on writing content to give away? No problem. Consider hosting a webinar to attract readers and share your knowledge. A webinar is a web-based seminar or conference. Participants from anywhere in the world can dial into the call, listen to your presentation, watch visuals you’ve prepared, and even ask questions. Think of it as a live version of a special report or e-course.The advantage of a webinar is that it provides a great opportunity to be interactive with your audience in real-time. Keep this in mind when you structure the presentation. Don’t just be a talking head: pick a web conferencing platform that includes “chat” or “show of hands” features so that you can effect a true exchange with your audience. You’ll want to start a lively conversation that participants will continue thinking about (and tweeting about) after the webinar ends. Popular webinar hosting systems include GotoWebinar, ReadyTalk and WebEx.To get a good turnout for your webinar, begin promoting it about a month in advance. Start a countdown on your blog, use social media, write a guest post, and issue a press release. After the webinar is over, use your web hosting platform to distribute a feedback form to participants. This will not only help you assess the success of the webinar, it’ll keep people thinking about you.
- Offer a Discount
Dare I even suggest this? I do. Whether or not to offer a discount is a very controversial topic among freelancers. On the plus side, it’s a fail-safe way of drawing prospective clients to your site. Everyone wants a good deal. On the negative side, it can devalue the service you provide, causing prospective clients to believe that your work is worth less than actually it is. It can also transmit a vibe of desperation, which can cause low-balling types to come crawling out of the woodwork.In the end, I believe little harm can arise from extending a “limited-time only” discount to jumpstart your business and increase site traffic. But be careful: you don’t want to become the freelance version of Rugs-O-Rama. Make sure your clients understand your regular price and the unique opportunity of the discount offer. And don’t worry about losing clients when you return to your regular price. If you produce consistent, high-quality work, a good client will understand your true value.
Michael Law has extensive experience as a freelance journalist and online marketer, and has worked with a number of leading Sydney companies ranging from online marketing agencies to compensation lawyers. If you’d like to get in touch, you can send Mike an email.
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