Position Yourself For Freelance Success Through Market Research

As you take your first steps as a freelancer, you'll understandably have lots of questions.

Questions such as…

  • Where do I find the people and businesses who will buy my services?
  • What price should I charge?
  • Do I need a website?
  • Will anyone really hire me?

You'll find answers to some of these questions by following our series on starting out as a freelancer. But if you want precise answers that are tailored to your business, then the best thing you can do is to conduct a market analysis. What's more, the answers you discover for yourself are more likely to stick in your mind.

Position Yourself For Freelance Success Through Market Research

What You'll Learn From Analyzing the Market

In my previous article, I showed you how to conduct a basic market analysis to discover which of your skills has a market value. As a result of reading that article, you chose a service you plan to offer to your clients.

In this article, I'll show you how to conduct a more in-depth analysis of the market for your services. You'll do this both through looking at what your competitors are doing, and at what your customers need.

Through this analysis, you will…

Learn how to price and package your services

When you're starting out, it can be scary to answer the question, "What should I charge?" Knowing what clients are willing to pay for your services will allow you to quote your rates with confidence.

Additionally, packaging your services into appropriate bundles gives you an opportunity to up-sell to clients who could benefit from more than just the service about which they enquire.

Discover the marketing materials you need

By seeing how your most successful competitors market themselves, you'll get insight into the types of marketing materials your clients respond to best.

Get ideas for the precise services that you should offer

For example, you may have decided to be a freelance writer. But there are many different types of freelance writing – from blog posts to sales pages to press releases. You want to choose services that match your skill set and offer the best rates.

Begin to understand who your ideal clients are

Not everyone in the world needs your services. Not everyone in the world can afford your services. By analyzing the market, you'll discover the types of people and businesses who want what you're offering and who have the budget to pay for it.

How to Conduct a Competitor Analysis

A competitor analysis helps you with pricing and knowing how to market your services.

You can check out your competitors in the following three ways…

1. Looking at their websites

You can find freelancer websites by doing a web search for "freelance [name of job]". The websites that come up first are your big competitors, so don't be intimidated by them! Just notice what services they offer and how they price those services.

To help you with writing your website copy, look at how they talk about their services and what they say on their "About" page. Also look at the structure of their website and at visual clues such as color and logo design. Finally, look at their testimonials and portfolio to see the clients they've worked with.

After you've looked at a few sites, you'll notice common themes emerging. You'll have ideas for what you want to include on your own site, what services to offer, the type of clients you could work with, and how to price your services.

2. Checking out Profiles on Freelance Bidding Sites

Some bidding sites allow you to see what freelancers have earned for the projects they've done. This is useful for setting your prices. As with looking at websites, you can also learn from how freelancers talk about themselves and the services they offer.

3. Talking to Other Freelancers

Most freelancers will enjoy you taking an interest in their business, even if you are planning to set up shop as a competitor. So start emailing and setting up Skype calls or chats over coffee. The freelancers you talk to might not tell you about pricing, but they'll be happy to talk about the types of clients they work with and the services they offer. You might even find a business mentor.

How to Conduct a Customer Analysis

A customer analysis helps you get ideas for the services you should offer and gives you insight into the needs of your clients.

From your competitor analysis, you should have an idea of whom you will be working with, so you'll know whom you should be researching.

You can conduct your analysis by…

Looking at the websites of potential clients

This is most useful if, like many freelancers, your services are based around marketing, copywriting, design, or web development. You're looking out for where their websites fall short. If you're a writer, observe: is their copy sizzling hot? Do they have a blog or an email newsletter? If so, is it regularly updated? If you're a marketing expert, could you help them better engage their customers?

Conducting surveys

It's never been easier to find out what people think! Set up a survey using SurveyMonkey. Ask questions about what they most need help with. You can post your survey on Craigslist or send it out to businesses you're thinking of working with.

Talk to them

Don't be afraid to approach potential clients explaining that you're starting a freelance business, and you'd like to find out more about how your services can help them. Emphasize that you're doing market research and that you're not selling anything.

What Will You Discover?

We'd love to hear about the results of your research. If you're willing to share, let us know how you researched the market for your services, and what you discovered. Go ahead and share in the comments section below.

Written by David Masters

David Masters helps businesses find their sweet spot of creativity, productivity and making money. He's been earning his bread as an online business writer since 2008.

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