Articles - 28th February 2019

How to Identify New Audiences as a Freelancer

Words by  Fiona Thomas
Illustration by Will Francis

The freelance lifestyle is unpredictable. As a freelancer, you’ve got lots of transferable skills (probably more than you realise) and multiple audiences who contain potential new customers. Here’s a guide on how to identify those new audiences and turn them into cold hard cash.

Analyse feedback

Quite often the information that will help you find new audiences is waiting to be handed to you by existing customers. Thanks to the internet you should have a wealth of data to refer to in the form of emails, blog comments, Tweets, and Facebook comments.

Many freelancers struggle to create an ideal customer profile, but these comments are from real people who are already interested in what you do so they will help you build a more accurate picture of your audience members.

Look for recurring questions and concerns from these customers and save them all into a spreadsheet so that you can refer to it whenever you need to find new audiences. When you’re mining for data ask yourself ‘what are the most common pain points and how can I address them?’

When I did this, I found that a high proportion of people reading my blog were asking how to be productive when struggling with depression. Up until then, I had assumed that my audience was mostly unemployed and feeling extremely mentally unwell, unable to work at all. Upon further research, I realised that actually, there was a vast audience of people who were generally functioning well but looking for tips on how to cope on those one-off bad days.

In response, I set up a free Facebook group which helped me have more detailed and private conversations with this new audience.

Build relationships

Is it really that easy? Well, the truth is that you never know where new audiences are hiding, so talking openly about your services and handing out business cards when appropriate will maximise your chances of finding them. Claire Elbrow from Blue Lizard Marketing explains that it’s nice to be nice. She says that building relationships is critical, particularly for local marketplaces or sector-specific ones. 

“For instance, I work with a great printer. If someone is looking for just a quick print job, I will send them his way. If he has someone who is looking for a wider marketing plan, he will send them my way”

Remember, having a genuine conversation about what you do will be much more memorable than awkwardly trying to pitch your services to a stranger out of context. If it comes up naturally in conversation, then go with it, share your passion and you’ll create a great first impression.

Investigate your followers

If any of your current customers follow you on social media, then you can get a better insight into who they are and what makes them tick. On Instagram, your most engaged followers are likely to be the ones who watch your daily ‘story’, and I know a few influencers who go through this list of people and have a snoop on their profiles to get to know them better.

It’s an effective way to build a more detailed customer avatar and identify any problems they might have. For example, I realised that many of my followers are budding writers who dream of being published someday, so I started offering coaching sessions to help them pitch to online publications.

You might find that someone follows you for your knowledge on SEO for example, even though it’s not a service you currently provide. How can you capitalise on that? Can you condense all your experience into a webinar or eBook?

Research your competitors

It makes good business sense to look at what your competitors are up to. Look at what they’re doing well and think about how you can improve it or give your own twist. Go onto their Instagram profile and head to the comments section, that’s where your new audience members are hanging out. Get to know them, and they’ll more than likely follow you to find out what you’re all about.

Final thoughts

Above all, be open-minded. If you want to create a reliable income then being alert and open to new ideas is a helpful approach. Be on the lookout for problems and figure out how your particular skills can come to the rescue, and try not to doubt your ability to succeed at new things.

Don’t just talk to your existing customers, talk to everyone, whether it’s your annoying next-door neighbour, your new hairdresser or your long lost cousin.

Promote yourself with gusto and you’ll find that new audiences are everywhere waiting patiently for you to join the party.

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