Freelance fish

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Steve Morgan is a Freelance SEO Consultant, trading as Morgan Online Marketing. Based in Cardiff, South Wales, UK, he also blogs SEOno, runs events (Cardiff SEO Meet), and has recently self-published a book called Anti-Sell. More personally he's a big fan of rock music and RPG video games.

The whole interview is worth listening to. You’ll get some interesting bits on:

  • Freelance SEO specialist work - self published author - father life balance
  • Building a great professional network as a freelancer
  • Finding inbound leads without actually making it feel like work
  • Unconventional sales and marketing ideas for freelancers
  • Outbound vs Inbound lead generation
  • Freelance addiction can lead you to decline a job that pay 120,000 pounds


How do you sell your services as a freelancer ?

A lot of his selling fits into his regular activities. In the first year of freelancing, he did a lot of activities that have allowed him to get a bunch of clients.

For example, by joining a good coworking space he was able to build a robust professional network. It was a great way thing that fit into his routine but also help him get a lot of leads in the process. He didn't actively sell his services, but people eventually realised what he did, and whenever they needed SEO work, he was the go to guy.

Going to meet-ups where he is the only expert of his particular skillset. Example, he went into a meet up of web designers where he was the only SEO expert. Naturally, he could add a lot of value to people at the event. He also likes to contribute to Facebook groups that are dedicated to freelancers. It’s a mixture of different tactics and a lot of them aren’t too time intensive.

He basically goes to FB groups in the evenings, answers questions that he is able to and helps out wherever he can. This generally ends up leading to clients.

What’s your favourite way to find work ?

As a freelancer it can get really boring if you work from home, and its a trap a lot of freelancers fall into. So getting a membership in a good cowering space helps create more opportunities for socialising and networking. We're social beings after all !

The added benefit is that you have a large professional network, in terms of entrepreneurs, startups who will eventually need your services if you work in the creative field of serving others.

A good way to break the ice is to take people out for a coffee or bring some cake. People will never get angry at your generosity.

Being vert salesy pushes people away. The goal is to build genuine relationships. It's a very long game and doesn't work overnight or quickly. Its genuinely being interested and getting to know people.

If you are just starting out, you could just let people know you're looking for work, and it would be nice if they could refer someone. For example, a web developers client may need help of a designer, or an SEO consultant at some point, so going after people with other skillsets who serve the same clients is a good way to find work.

Blogging consistently, helps you get a good social media following. It also gives you authority in the space, so clients may reach out to you via the blog. Though 1 post out of 10 can get popular, the 1 post is enough to get a large number of clients.

For Steve, one post he wrote in 2013 still gets him tons of clients. He never intended for it to happen, but he added value to other people's live by sharing his opinion on a topic he was an expert on.

Outbound vs Inbound lead generation ?

Outbound is fine early on but eventually you want to optimise the system for more inbound leads as the system works better. Your network acts as a better filter than someone recruiting you on a job site where the shiniest one is the most important

To avoid getting work out of desperation, trasition from full time job to freelancing if you have the opportunity. By having a list of clients, plant the seeds for a freelance career to have a smooth transition from full time job to freelancing.

One thing he would do differently as a beginner freelancer ?

Jumping directly from a job to freelancing is overwhelming because as a freelancer you have to do a lot of things, from sales and marketing to the actual job.

Inbound also is easier to setup for some people. If you are hyper specialised you may have to depend on outbound.

Make a start on the side, have 2-3 clients to work with on evening or weekends, and then have those clients carry on. This would be a lot more comfortable.

Also have a saving cushion, to save yourself from being desperate in unexpected situations.

The jobs you take out of desperation usually end up being shitty project with low pay with bad clients.

Things he loves about being a freelancer ?

Flexibility as a freelancer is amazing. You’ll most likely be able to give up a 120k pounds year because of the flexibility. You'll also much more than what you'd earn in most jobs.

You can make more money 4 days a week as a freelancer than a highly stressful 5 days a week job.

Books or courses that have influenced me the most ?

I blogged about the books that inspired Anti-Sell (and therefore would be the books that I recommend to freelancers):

Here are his top two recommendations

  1. ReWork and
  2. The Pumpkin Plan.

One thing you would have done differently at the start of your freelance career

This is a tough one as everyone's circumstances are different - that's why in the book I don't necessarily say "do this, do that..." but instead try to give people a ton of options from which they can what works for them.

So I'd probably say: when thinking about what networking, marketing and lead generation tactics you want to do for your freelance business, ask yourself this:

What are your passions and your strengths? Obviously it's important to think about your target audience as well (if not more-so), but play to your passions/strengths if you can.

Always liked the idea of coworking? Give it a try.

Like running events? Run events.

Always wanted to start your own podcast? Start a podcast.

Let those things take the lead with your marketing. You're going to be more dedicated to the practice - and do a better job of it - if it ties in with something you love doing.

One thing you could do right after the podcast to become a better freelancer

Join a coworking space, this will help you build a robust professional network of people that would end up referring work to you.

  1. Morgan Online Marketing
  2. SEOno
  3. Anti-Sell