You wake up one morning, and suddenly you realise…
“I’m sick of this ‘employee’ lifestyle! I choose to become a contractor!”
….and henceforth believe all will go swimmingly.
Lots of work.
Lots of time with the wife. And the kids.
Lots of money (you did, after all, factor in a better hourly ROI than your current income).
Lots of freedom.
You put it out there on LinkedIn, Facebook, heck even Instagram. You call a couple of mates in the industry. You attend one or two networking events.
And you wait.
You wait for the mobile to ring.
But what your hearing instead….. is the squeaky sound of crickets….
There are FAR smarter, savvier and personable ways for you to get your ‘contractor’ personal brand out there. Here are 10 of the best.
1. Focus on your knowledge: be a thought-leader (but a REAL thought leader, not one of those fake ‘thought leaders’).
It’s easy to say you’re a ‘thought leader’, but if you’re not walking the talk, you’ll continue to hear those crickets. So…. at the start of your contracting career, and all throughout (as in, do this exercise regularly), write down the key areas of your knowledge and expertise.
And within those key areas, write down any sub-topics for each (as relevant).
Then, whenever you’re undertaking any of these marketing tactics, you’ll be well targeted in pitch, content & ideas to land the gigs that are RIGHT for you.
So ….document your knowledge. You’ll be surprised at how much you know, and the breadth of reach you can undertake in your search for contract work. It’s a very empowering exercise.
2. Build a simple, one-page, website, with blog functionality:
This may sound like a hassle, but it’s super easy.
WordPress is a great starting place for you to build a site yourself (‘Wordpress’ is a great content management system; the foundation that your site sits on). Alternatively, jump onto AirTasker and get the simplest of WordPress websites built for you, at a steal.
There’s literally thousands of contractors or gig workers on AirTasker waiting to help you, who’ll be able to get your site done in no time.
Your site needs to have two key components:
- a smart, intelligent, compelling section about YOU (including a professional photo… not a photo at your cousin’s wedding)
- blog functionality: this way, you can demonstrate your thought leadership (from point 1), on a regular basis and start demonstrating what you know (for example, to your prospective contract employers) through the publishing and sharing of your knowledge & intel (one article a week is all you need to do)
And of course, on every page of your site, you need to include a ‘Call To Action’ so anyone who’s reading it, can easily get in touch with you. You’ll also need a ‘contact me’ section.
Once your site is built, find yourself and SEO expert (again, you’re best placed to do this on AirTasker) so that, in time, your site comes up early on Google’s search results, for your area of expertise.
3. Extend your offering out to social media:
Once your site is up & running, think about extending your digital footprint to social media. Depending on your industry, you’re best placed to start your social media engine, via LinkedIn.
Here, you can set up a ‘company page’, which in the early days, is basically a replication of your new website. You can publish your blog posts from your website onto your company page, and you can use the page to demonstrate to prospective contract providers, who will also be on LinkedIn, who you are & what your knowledge is.
In time, think beyond LinkedIn. For example, you can:
- start a niche group on Facebook
- answer questions of a technical nature on Quora
- get creative on Instagram (a proven environment for most industries, including B2B)
- answer questions posted on Twitter
4. Land speaking gigs:
EVERY industry is looking for quality industry speakers. From networking breakfasts, seminars, and corporate hospitality events, the options are many and varied. If your knowledge is in a particularly refined niche, even better. You can become the true industry expert, in your city, state & country.
5. Print business cards:
May sound obvious. Even old school. But it’s astounding how many contractors today, DON’T have a business card with their personal details. Sure, they may have a card from their current contract, but that doesn’t look super-professional if you’re networking, looking for your next gig, whilst working in an existing contract.
Take the time. Make the effort. It will give you an edge over your contracting competitors. Guaranteed.
6. Write articles for your industry niche website/journal/magazine:
If you’re already writing blog content for your website, around subjects of your technical area of expertise, you’re halfway there! Use this content to ‘pitch’ to editors, journalists & bloggers in your niche. Once they know they can call upon you for quality editorial content, you’ll be amazed how often you’ll be able to get your name out there.
Keep in mind, you’re not asking for a fee here. Your reward is your name being promoted to all the readers of the website or magazine for whom you provide content. It’s a high-quality, credible means for gaining industry recognition.
A bonus tip here: when you’re about to write a new post for your blog, pitch it to a target journal or news site BEFORE you publish it. To them, it’s an ‘exclusive’. And they love getting their hands on quality content, before anyone else.
7. Get endorsed (on your website AND on LinkedIn):
Sounds simple right? But it’s a tactic that’s often overlooked by contractors.
Don’t be cheezy or pushy when you’re asking for endorsements. Be genuine. Sincere. Transparent. And call upon people in your industry who are well-respected, and well-recognised.
If you feel some people simply won’t have the time, offer to write the endorsement for them. Then, they only have to spend time editing.
8. Keep track of individuals & businesses you really want to work with:
Keep track in the media, on LinkedIn and Twitter and across other social platforms, those organisations with whom you’d love to land a contract gig. Know the decision-makers in those organisations. Know their titles, who their people are. Read a lot. Gather info diligently. It absolutely WILL pay off.
9. Stay in touch with your new contacts & network:
From time-to-time, email people you meet at networking events, or speaking gigs; including fellow contractors. Build a network that you interact with regularly. Share your knowledge and content with them. Don’t be afraid to share other industry articles or insights with your network too. Your new peeps will love it! They’ll start to call on you as the ‘guy who knows it’ for your industry.
10. Use email as a key marketing channel
Once you’ve built up some good content on your website, start to build a list of your new contacts so you can email them regularly – a platform like MailChimp makes this process really simple & easy for you.
If you’re able to undertake even half of these ideas, you’ll become a truly successful Contracting self-marketer! And an incredibly sought-after Contractor.
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