SECTION EIGHTEEN of the ULTIMATE SEO FREELANCER GUIDE - THE REALITY!
LinkedIn is your freelancing goldmine just waiting to be tapped in to
Using the power of LinkedIn is not to be underestimated. I have personally generated a LOT (let's say it is in the millions) of new business via LinkedIn over the years. The key is simple!
Build a personal brand people want to work with.
If you are constantly active on LinkedIn sharing tips targeted at your ideal client, and helping people, over time the inbound leads will naturally start to flow.
That takes time though.
If you are an SEO freelancer sat at your PC (or Mac) day after day just waiting for leads to just drop into your inbox…
You need to get proactive!
Just like with any marketing, consistency is key.
Buying a big list of contact details of businesses and spamming them all in bulk is NOT the way to do prospecting.
When you are prospecting, you are building up a targeted database of people you would like to start a conversation with.
Not… A list of people to sell to.
You need to go and reach out to potential prospects. Many freelance SEOs really do struggle with prospecting, so I will explain how I personally go about finding prospects and making that first approach if I were to go freelance again.
The steps outlined below are not from any LinkedIn guru book or what I've learned from a LinkedIn training session. The steps below are what I have personally found to work for me over the years. I'm sharing these steps with yo so at least you have somewhere to start. You will however find your own process for prospecting and lead generation via LinkedIn.
Step 1 – Your LinkedIn profile
Get your LinkedIn profile up to scratch. You need to tell people, ‘who you are’, ‘what you do’, ‘who you work with’, ‘the problems you solve’ and ‘how to contact you’.
When writing your LinkedIn bio, it is no longer your CV. As a business owner, it is a very powerful marketing tool and you need to explain the value you provide.
You need to be a little creative when crafting your LinkedIn profile. If a company director visited your profile and the first thing they read was something like…
“I’m a freelance SEO who helps businesses rank their website at the top of Google.”
…what do you think they would be thinking?
You need to craft your profile. Tell the person (your potential new client) reading your LinkedIn profile what they need to know in order to want to make contact with you.
It may come as a big shock to you, but business owners and directors don’t actually ‘want’ SEO. They don’t care about SEO. They care about achieving their business goals and objectives and have read something or heard something that has allowed them to think that SEO is the thing that might help their business to get from where they are now, to where it needs to be.
Demonstrate what problems you solve and how you solve them. Clean your profile up.
Step 2 – Your prospect avatar
By now, you should have realised who your ideal target client is. Now you have been referring to the client as a business or brand. You now have to delve deeper and understand ‘who’ the person is that you need to start that all important conversation with.
> Who is the person within the business responsible for getting SEO related problems solved?
> Who is the person tasked with achieving the marketing goals within the business?
> Who are the key decision makers?
You should then have a clear idea of your ideal target avatar.
They may look something like…
The marketing director of a US based company with 100+ employees who operate within the fashion industry.
Step 3 – Search for your target demographic
Go to the search feature on LinkedIn and using all the various search options available, search for your target demographic.
If you have a Premium LinkedIn account, you can really narrow your search down to your exact demographic (company size etc..). They offer a 30-day free trial, so if you have not already taken advantage of the free trial then I would, as you will generate a much higher targeted database of prospects.
Step 4 – Getting you known
If you have really narrowed your search down, you should have a list of people who work at a company who has the potential to become your next new client.
Go through that list of people and view their LinkedIn profiles. Make a note of anything that stands out to you.
Do NOT try to connect yet.
All those people will see that you have viewed their profile (they now know you exist) and statistically around 30% of them will return the favour and view your profile.
Step 5 – LinkedIn connection requests
Wait a week to see if any of those people sends you a connection request. For those people who did indeed send you a connections request, connect with them and then send them a message something like…
“Hello Stacy, I was only too happy to accept your connection request. Was there anything specific that prompted you to want to send me a connection request?”
Let the conversation begin.
Step 6 – Sending a connection request
You now need to send a connection request to all remaining prospects you are not already connected to. Don’t bulk send them though as you won’t be able to handle the managing the conversations if a load of people message you all at once.
Set yourself a target of sending ten connection requests per day.
Remember in step four I asked you to make a note of anything interesting within each persons profile. Well, this is why I asked you to do that.
When sending the connection request to each person, you need to make it as personalised as possible. Write something within the connection message that ensures they know that you have taken the time to look at their profile.
Do not blanket send the same message to everyone. You are not an SEO spammer. You are a business owner of your one-person agency.
Also, never send a connection request message like…
“I am a freelance SEO. Do you need any help with your SEO?”
Be personable and real. Just like with any marketing, your message needs to connect on an emotional level with the person.
Another way is to see if you and your prospect have any mutual connections. If so, in your connection request you can mention your mutual connection by name asking how they know them. This really only works if you actually know the mutual person.
I’m not going to give you example LinkedIn connection request messages here as I want you to craft your own as you need to find your own style.
Step 7 – Starting that dreaded first conversation
You have spent a lot of time and energy sourcing your target customer and they have connected with you. What now?
Now you must make that dreaded first approach. Something that sends shivers down grown men’s spines and starts the blood pumping and the heart racing. Unless you already have a good inbound lead funnel, it is something you need to do.
Sending your prospect an email to ask if they want a free website audit will just not cut it anymore. Start being a bit more creative and put yourself in their shoes. What would make you listen? Perhaps you can send them free gifts. This can basically be links to valued private access only information that you have written. They need to feel special. It needs to be something where, if they followed it, they could potentially increase new business. By doing this it builds trust - and you have not even tried to sell them anything.
Once you have their attention, send them a short message through LinkedIn asking them if they have five minutes free during the next week for a quick call so that you can introduce yourself.
Research their company before the scheduled call and make the call all about them. During the conversation, get to know if they already work with an SEO partner. If so, is it working out for them?
That first conversation is a is just a friendly chat in which you establish if there is an opportunity to do business or not. If they already work with another SEO partner who they are happy with or they have already got their own in-house SEO team, cross them off your prospect list but keep in touch as you never know what will happen in the future. I have won new business from a lost prospect many times by sending a follow-up message via LinkedIn three months after I deleted them from my prospect list. A lot can happen in three months and in many cases, you can step in to resolve their pain points at the exact time they need it. It pays to keep the relationship alive.
The true power of LinkedIn
I personally generate a lot more high-quality leads through my LinkedIn profile than I do via my own website. In fact, I have generated millions of pounds worth of new business directly through LinkedIn over the years working. If you are not working LinkedIn alongside your website as a lead generation tool…
> Craft the perfect LinkedIn profile.
> Search for your ideal prospect.
> Connect with your prospect.
> Start a conversation.
> Establish a need.
> Setup a Zoom call (or even an in-person meeting if local to you)
You will need to be active and constant on LinkedIn, but don’t try and sell directly through LinkedIn.
Posting daily SEO tips videos targeted to ‘who you are as a freelance SEO’ is a great way of building up a great audience. You could even do a video series on ‘the benefits of working with an SEO freelancer’.
Remember, as an SEO freelancer, your clients are buying YOU as an SEO but also as a person. It is important that your prospects feel as though they already know who you are. Don’t be afraid to show your personal side.
Again - Never spam LinkedIn
A massive mistake people do on LinkedIn, as well as other social platforms, is that they send a connection request and as soon as it has been accepted, they send that person a sales pitch via private message. Not cool at all and it often results in you getting blocked by that connection.
So, what do you do if prospects just do not connect?
You will find that not everyone on your prospect list will connect with you via LinkedIn. Don’t be offended. I find that a lot of people only check their LinkedIn messages once per month. It might even be that they just don’t accept connection requests from anyone they don’t personally already know.
If this is the case, I just bite the bullet and pick up the phone. Call them and ask them if it would be OK for you to post (yes, snail mail still exists) an introduction letter. The chances are they are going to say yes. Make sure you leave your name before you end the call and thank them.
Now you need to write a letter personally addressed to the decision maker (the person on your prospect list) describing how they would benefit from setting up a call or even a face-to-face meeting. Make sure you don’t go overboard and keep it to one page. If you received a letter yourself, what would make you sit up and take notice?
Trust me when I say that this approach works a treat. It is just about starting a conversation and making each conversation about them.
Hungry for more?
Re-visit a previous section:
Section 1: SEO freelancing stories
Section 4: Be realistic about your own SEO skillset
Section 5: Understanding who your clients are
Section 7: Be very mindful of – The promise trap
Section 9: The SEO freelancer payment terms
Section 10: Creating the perfect work / life balance
Section 11: Build a freelance support network around you
Section 12: What and how should an SEO freelancer charge?
Section 13: The isolation of being an SEO freelancer
Section 14: Get yourself a mentor or coach
Section 17: The perfect lead for an SEO freelancer