Freelance is hard. All of those early mornings and late nights spent cold emailing people who might not even be interested in your services. All of that time spent researching potential businesses and scouring the web to find a contact email address, then getting maybe one response out of 58, and that one not even having the budget to move forward.
One thing that has helped me get in front of interested people is Facebook advertising. It requires some money (not a ton) but saves you a ton of valuable time. It’s a way to get in front of very specific audiences that you otherwise may not have been able to reach.
However, for those who have never set up ads before, the targeting options can be ridiculously overwhelming because there are so many. I wanted to share 10 targeting methods that work well for me, and would work well for people who dabble in freelance. I’ve included screenshots to make it easier to find things and navigate the platform.
These are all very specific to people who have a freelance offering and need to more easily get in front of people who might be interested. It is ALSO targeted at people who are just starting their own business, and are struggling to get post engagement and new page likes.
DO try these at home! Here are all 10…
With Facebook ads, freelancers can promote their content specifically to people who are interested in the areas related to their business. For example, if you are a freelance graphic designer and you frequently post content around logo design, you can target people who are interested in graphic design or people interested in the Adobe Creative Suite. Maybe people interested in Behance or another website/magazine graphic designers would frequently check out.
If you’re a digital marketing freelancer and you typically post articles about digital marketing, or you frequently promote your offerings, you can gain awareness by selecting people interested in digital marketing. Any action taken on Facebook is tracked, so based on what people are doing, they bucket them into categories and they’re able to tell exactly what topics each individual is interested in. As a freelancer, you can use this to your advantage by only spending money on people who would be interested in what you offer.
As a freelancer, you might not be able to land gigs with Fortune 500 companies right out of the gate, although that would be nice. However, Facebook has enough data to be able to tell who is a small business owner. Starting out in freelance, these would be great people to get your ads in front of.
Facebook also has partnerships with several companies who provide them with purchasing data. Through these partnerships, they can tell if people are buying products, or behaving in ways that would strongly insist that they have a home office. People with home offices are likely those who would use a freelancer as opposed to hiring a full-time employee. This would be another very valuable segment to reach.
Through other data sources, partnerships, and acquisitions, Facebook can tell who has a high household income. Obviously, people with money are who freelancers want to work with. You don’t want to reach people who won’t have the ability to pay you something worthwhile. You can target people in basically any income range, but typically I would recommend going $100,000 and higher.
Isn’t it crazy how much data Facebook has access to? You know how you put your job title on Facebook? Well, advertisers can target you based on what you put there.
For freelancers, this is a goldmine because it allows you to target people with job titles that make perfect sense for you to be in front of. One of these would be company owners, founders, and executives. However, it can be overwhelming because some people might type in “CEO” while others type in “Chief Executive Officer” – so the combinations are endless. Fortunately, once you type in one or two job titles, you can click on “Suggestions” and basically every other popular variation will come up, making it very easy to reach almost anybody with those titles.
Sometimes, companies have projects that make more sense for freelance contractors to take on, rather than hiring full-time employees. This often happens through Human Resources. Using a Facebook ad, you can reach people with Human Resources or Talent Acquisition in their job titles.
This way, instead of (or in addition to) applying for a job posting, your freelance ads can start popping up in the News Feed of those who are recruiters or talent acquisition specialists. They can then check out your website and potentially reach out to you instead of you having to reach out to them. You can even take this a step further and target employees of companies that you want to work for. It can get extremely granular if you want it to.
Depending on your freelance service, you might have a demographic or geographic location that makes the most sense for you to build a client base. Take a look at the screenshot. This is an example of targeting people ages 35-50 in the Tampa, Florida area. Now, if it were me, I would totally be layering in other targeting methods too (such as interest in marketing and competitors) but you can be broad if you want as well. This will give Facebook’s algorithm the chance to cast a wide net, and find exactly who would be interested in your ads.
Like I mentioned above, you can target the fans of competitors. Pretend Nike was running a sponsored ad promoting running shoes. The screenshot provided would be a sample targeting breakdown.
Thinking about it for a freelancer, if there are other companies or people doing what you’re doing on a larger scale, you can show ads to people who already like their Page, or have expressed interest in some other way such as posting about them. This has worked very well for me. I have identified other digital marketing companies, people who are “famous” digital marketers, and well-known figures in my space, and I show sponsored posts to their fans. I get a significant amount of engagement and attention using this targeting methodology.
Facebook has the ability to find “lookalikes” and build custom audiences with them. What this means is, you can tell Facebook “okay, find other people similar to the people who engage with my posts” – and boom, Facebook will go out and look for them, and dump them into a targeting bucket for you to use. I’ve found this very useful when trying to get more Page Likes.
For instance, if the people engaging with your content are “usually” marketers, roughly ages 25-40, they will take this information and try to find other marketers who are ages 25-40. This takes a lot of the leg work out of it for you, and is a huge win for freelancers looking to build awareness.
If you are looking to grow your email list or reach people who are likely to be interested in your business, this will be a big win for you. Facebook allows you to upload a list of your email subscribers, or integrate directly with MailChimp. Then, you can either target those people directly on Facebook, or you can build lookalike audiences off them (recommended if your list isn’t massive).
This is another way to find and reach people who would potentially be interested in your freelance business or website. Once you build this audience and have a decent following, you will build an authority in your space that will naturally start to generate business for you.
One thing I struggle with is getting new followers on Facebook. It’s hard to just “invite” people to like your page and get them to say yes, because not all of your friends are going to be interested in your niche. However, once you do get a following of maybe 100 or so, start targeting the friends of people who already like your page.
These people may have already seen your name pop up before because their friend already liked your page, or liked a post. Also, they likely have other friends who are interested in your subject. I see some success using this targeting method as well. I think it’s because they see some additional validity to your page when they see that one or more of their friends has already liked it.
As I stated at the beginning, if you’re a current freelancer or you’ve tried it in the past, you know how much work it is to grow your business. You might not think of Facebook Ads as a traditional way to get new clients, but I hope the above targeting tactics show you that there is enormous potential.
One huge positive that I hadn’t mentioned previously is that there are easy tools available (even online) to create nice looking ads. If you’re not a graphic designer or don’t know how to use the Adobe Creative tools, you can get by using something online. I use Canva personally, but I’m sure there are so many more. Another option is to use the free stock photos that Facebook has available right in the platform, then just writing compelling copy.
Either way, I hope this article inspires some freelancers to try Facebook advertising to build their business and community. It’s a goldmine if you know how to use it correctly. If you need any help or want to bounce some ideas off me, feel free to reach out to me on my website at www.jakekurtz.us or on Twitter at @iamJakeKurtz.
Special thanks to Adel for letting me do this feature and for being a social guru!
Jake Kurtz is a digital marketer and writer from Tampa, FL. He writes about marketing, careers, and overall self-improvement. He works full time as a paid media manager, then outside of work helps others with content marketing and digital media. He also sends a weekly email on Monday mornings all about improving both your business and personal mindset.