Things are really tough in tech this quarter, and while the looming recession indicated that layoffs were imminent, it’s really starting to hit home as employees lose their jobs just weeks before the holiday season.

We all saw the news and clatter on social media. Elon Musk took ownership of Twitter and promptly fired tons of employees, and he isn’t stopping there. He just gave the axe to 80% of contractors and the majority of Twitter’s India staff. 

And it seems like other big tech giants are following this pattern:

When the vast majority of people hear about these tech layoffs, they typically think only engineers are being affected. But, as any seasoned marketer knows, when the time comes to make cuts, marketing is usually the first budget to be affected. 

While marketers are a resourceful bunch, determined to land on their feet, it doesn’t make the situation feel any better. So where does that leave marketing professionals who find themselves unmoored from their employer? 

Just as seasons turn, so will the job market, and companies will be hiring again before we know it. But in the meantime, turning to freelance work is a great way for marketers to keep their skills up and the money rolling in. 

To help, we’re sharing tips for how to start your freelance marketing career and the tools necessary for your freelance marketing stack. Let’s get started! 

Steps for Starting Your Freelance Marketing Career

1. Prepare to Change Your Mindset

Do you live to work, or do you work to live?

When working for a big corporate tech conglomerate, you’re essentially at the whim of your CEO. Their rules/how they want their company ran is instilled in the management team, which trickles down to the rest of the company. There’s typically a certain time you need to clock in, and most times, you can’t log off until certain tasks are completed. In exchange, you receive a steady paycheck, maybe some benefits, and “security.”

However, if these layoffs are showing us anything, it’s that security can be an illusion. But something that isn’t an illusion is believing in and investing in yourself.

Freelance work allows you to set your own terms and rules. You’re essentially working for yourself, so you have a bigger role to play in how you do business. This is a far cry away from the mentality you may have had when working for a larger company.

When embarking on a freelance career, shifting your mindset is step number one. You may find that moving to a team of one is daunting, so give yourself some time to get in the right space mentally so you can take ownership of your new responsibilities and make sure you see yourself as your boss. 

What You’ll Need:

  • A notebook – To write your thoughts and organize your plan of action
  • Coffee, lots of coffee
  • Meditation – If that’s your thing, download apps like Headspace or Aura

2. Zero in on Your Skillset

What is it that you plan to offer in your freelance endeavor? What did you provide your previous employer, and what professional skills have you worked hard to sharpen these past few years? 

For this step, it’s crucial that you have an honest conversation with yourself about what you’re capable of providing to potential clients. It’s not just enough to offer services; you want to make sure that the services you offer are good enough to maintain steady, repeat clients

Once you’ve listed out a few services you can offer, put together a blurb that explains exactly what you do. Be specific and concise so you can entice and be transparent with potential clients. This blurb will serve as the foundation of your personal branding efforts. 

What You’ll Need:

  • A marketing plan – This will help you put together everything you need to take your skillset and translate it into something sellable. Download our free Marketing Planner Workbook to get started.
  • Webinars or eCourses – It’s not a bad idea to sharpen your skills by taking an educational course of some kind. Digital Marketing Institute offers regular marketing webinars on a variety of topics. 

3. Establish Your Audience

Who do you want to appeal to? Who do you think your services would benefit most? Narrowing down your target audience is one of the biggest steps you can take as a freelancer. While it may be tempting, you don’t want to accept work from just anyone. You want to make sure that you can deliver on specific needs and that you completely understand what it is your potential client is looking for. When you understand your audience, you understand how to deliver on their expectations, which will set you up for a successful relationship that could mean more business down the line. 

What You’ll Need:

  • Audience personas – These will help you refine and pinpoint the exact kind of person you should be targeting. Download our free Buyer Persona Workbook to establish and keep track of your target audience.

4. Get Started Building Your Personal Brand

Social media is a huge part of our lives. What started out as a fun way to share our day-to-day is now a big part of how people make their income and how brands reach their audience. 

When becoming a freelancer, building a social media presence will help you boost a personal brand and get you in front of more people who may need your services. You probably already have social media accounts, but consider creating new ones solely dedicated to your freelancing and target platforms that you feel make the most sense based on what you offer and where your audience may be. 

You’ll also want to give your LinkedIn account a refresh so that it better represents where you currently are in your professional career. Make sure it highlights your freelance services and skills, and consider asking colleagues for endorsements for an added boost. 

Also, consider creating a website for your freelance work. This can be a place where potential clients can go to learn more about what you offer and reach out to you for a quote or proposal. It’s also a great place to showcase your work or previous projects. 

What You’ll Need:

  • A social media calendar – Staying consistent on social media and regularly posting will help boost your credibility and ensure you’re putting your personal brand out there. If you need help, download our free Social Media Calendar Template
  • Social media photo and video editing apps – You’ll want to make sure the photos you videos you publish on social media look aesthetically pleasing and high-quality. Download apps like VSCO or Adobe Premiere Rush
  • A website builder – You don’t need to know code in order to build a beautiful website easily. Check out tools like Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly.
  • A CRM – You’ll want an intuitive, easy-to-use way to keep track of each customer you accumulate from your freelance business. BenchmarkONE’s CRM for small business offers you insight into your customers and prospects, as well as the marketing tools you need to nurture them. Request a free account today!

5. Look Into Freelance Websites

It may feel like you’re shouting into the abyss when it comes to putting yourself out there as a freelancer. If you’re having trouble getting work or building your client base, make sure you look into freelance websites and platforms out there for some additional help. 

Sites like MarketerHire, Fiverr, Upwork, or are great because they give freelancers a platform to showcase their expertise. They bring the work to you by making you available to their vast network of users, all looking for various needs within the professional sphere. 

What You’ll Need:

  • A headshot – An app like Headshop can help you create a professional headshot in seconds. You can use this for your website and add it to your profile on any freelance site you join.
  • A list of freelance websites – The more sites you’re on, the more exposure for your freelance brand and the more client possibilities you can experience. Make a list of potential sites and then fill out profiles on each. Just make sure you are prepared for the amount of work that may come your way. 

Keep Freelance in Your Back Pocket

Freelance work may not be a permanent solution for you. Perhaps you’re only doing it until you can find another job. If you eventually decide to venture out of the world of self-employment, don’t totally abandon your freelance gig. Instead, turn it into a side hustle. 

It’s never a bad idea to have a second source of income. You never know; circumstances may change again, and having a side gig may come in handy. 

We know that times seem a bit bleak right now, especially for those experiencing the latest big tech layoffs first-hand. We hope this guide offers you a viable solution for getting your freelance career off the ground so you can take back control and feel confident heading into the new year. Good luck!