Do you struggle to get noticed? Most of the solopreneurs and freelance creatives that I know struggle to gain traction or be seen.
You got into this solopreneur journey because you wanted to create freedom. You wanted to spend more time working on the things you enjoy with the people you like working with.
You probably don’t like or enjoy marketing yourself. But, if you fail to market you will have a hard time surviving as a freelance creative.
Marketing is a necessary evil for freelancers and solopreneurs. Without it, you can’t keep going.
For me, I never wanted to get into the marketing game. But I found ways to get my name out there without crying myself to sleep at night. It didn’t involve sleazy techniques, hiring a marketing agency, cold emails, or purchasing ads.
What got me seen: Building in public.
What does building in public look like?
Building in public means sharing your process and the things that you are working on and do it on a consistent basis.
These mini-updates come in the form of posts on social platforms. Using social platforms, we can leverage organic visibility tools like hashtags and tagging accounts. This gets us reach that we normally do not have.
Places to build in public:
- Twitter (X)
- Tik Tok
Taking a building in public mindset also solves one of the great mysteries as solopreneurs: what do you post on social?
The process matters
A lot of creatives are stuck on the result. They don’t want to share something until it is perfect. This is a mistake. You need to share your process. People want to cheer you on, so let them!
You can make it known that what you are sharing is a work in progress or a beta version. People will still see the value in what you created.
This only works if you are ACTUALLY creating.
Time to get real. Many freelancers and solopreneurs talk about their craft and skills more than they actually do those skills.
You can not be that person. Put your head down and create.
Even if you have no clients yet, create a side project for fun or to try a new skill.
Start creating. Start sharing the process.
By sharing our work before it is ready we start the feedback cycle early in the process which will accelerate your growth.
How to build in public as a marketing strategy for freelancers
- Pick your platforms
- Pick your cadence (at least 3 times a week)
Pick Your Platforms
Choose platforms where your target audience shows up on a regular basis and that you can consistently show up on. Do not pick YouTube if creating several videos a week is going to distract you. For me, Twitter and Instagram worked best.
If you are just getting started, pick one platform and master it. You can leverage what you learn there to give yourself a kickstart on the next one!
Pick Your Cadence
Figure out how often you want to update your audience on what you are working on. I would suggest showing up daily.
It is also helpful to show up around the same time every day. Don’t keep your audience guessing!
This is the easy part. Start building something. The ideal sample project is one that translates to your paid service. If you are a web designer, start building a sample website that aligns with your target audience.
This idea does not have to be super complicated. Did you notice someone complaining about the UX of a popular website, redesign it.
See someone mention a frustration that you know you could automate? Build a super simple prototype.
Every day, post an update about what you are working on. What struggles have you found? What challenge did you overcome?
If I started to work on this because I saw someone mention a frustration or the project involves integrations with any third-parties I will tag those accounts. This increases the reach of your post.
This strategy is part of the long game. This is going to take time to start showing results, but it does work and it creates sustainable business pipelines. You need to keep at it.
I found that updating my audience daily (some days I skipped because of LIFE) kept me accountable. I kept showing up and sharing what I had created.
Another strategy here is to share your updates more than once. If one of them really takes off share it again in a few weeks. A large part of your audience did not see it!
Example: ConvertKit Subscriber Count
I recently tweeted that I loved showing my subscriber count on my website, but I hated updating it manually.
A lot of people agreed with this frustration and wanted a solution!
So, I decided to build a quick and dirty version of a WordPress plugin that would scratch this itch.
I set a timer for 2 hours and got to work.
At the end of the 2 hours, I had an ugly version of a prototype, but it worked!
I shared this news, and the founder of ConvertKit noticed. His interaction with my tweet got it further noticed by others I would not usually reach.
This resulted in multiple new followers and engagements. And this was just one mini project. Do this every day, and you will get noticed.
Other ways to show up and create in public
You do not have to create something new every day. You can keep working on the same project every day for weeks and keep sharing updates.
You could also share how you are working ON your business. Come up with a new process, improve a metric, or hit a milestone? Share it.
Let your work speak for itself.
Build → Share → Repeat
Now it is your turn! Build something and share it with the world. Share the incomplete version. Share the mistakes. Share the masterpieces. Keep hitting publish; it will get you noticed, and you won’t feel awful doing it (like all those crazy marketing tactics do).