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on March 5, 2007 at 10:21:16 am

Self-Marketing for the Freelance Web Geek

South by Southwest Interactive panel, Austin, TX

Sunday, March 11, 5-6PM


Why this topic


Web geeks are part nerd, part artist - and in many cases, totally missed out on the self-promotion gene. The one thing I've learned in my journey from cog-in-the-wheel programmer to independent freelancer is that I suck at explaining what it is I do, why I'm good at it, what kind of work and clients I want to pursue, and what's not for me. (ie, "oh, you do computer stuff? My brother's company has this old Filemaker Pro database they want to upgrade to Access...")


Besides an excuse to get together with a smart people I like in Austin, my goal with this panel is to have a conversation about how freelancers can best establish their expertise and advertise their skills in ways that are effective - but not creepy. Of course there aren't any definitive answers, but tossing around ideas and experiences could be really enlightening for everyone in the room.


Official Description


This one's going in the SXSW materials: "Tooting your own horn doesn't come easy to geeks and programmers. When you decide to go freelance, how do you market and advertise your skills as an individual?"


Format and questions to discuss


The panel discussion will be a casual a Q&A session between all the participants. As moderator, I'll throw out questions to get the discussion going and everyone can jump in with their thoughts on the matter. Some items up for discussion (add yours to the list!):


  • How do you self-promote without seeming creepy?
  • Best ways to establish yourself as an authority on a topic?
  • Worst mistake one can make when publicizing their services/site?
  • When you're a one-person shop, what's better: create a company with a different name or market yourself as an individual?
  • Physical, paper business cards: do you need them?
  • What's a great online business card look like?
  • Personal weblogs that get personal - will they scare off or attract potential clients?
  • How do you communicate what it is you do?
  • Creating demand: Can playing hard to get professionally pay off?
  • Give them something to remember you by
  • How much time do you spend on marketing your work versus DOING it?
  • Do work for free or cheap as a way to get yourself out there when you get started.
  • How to market without marketing: do work that doesn't have the explicit goal of promoting yourself, but does as a side effect. (ie, contribute to open source projects; publish work under a CC or GPL license; freely share information on your weblog; volunteer your skills for a good cause/barter work and ask for attribution; positively contribute to an online community - like Metafilter, Flickr, a mailing list, LH.)





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Stuff worth looking at from around the interwebs.


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