We bring you top tips on how to research your target market when starting out as a freelancer. If you want to be a freelance copywriter or a freelance anything for that matter, robust market research is vital. Conducting a thorough investigation of the marketplace will not only form the basis of your business plan, it will help to design an attractive package that will make your service stand out from the rest.
Begin your research by taking to the Internet. Google, Twitter and freelance websites such as Elance, Peopleperhour and Webprojobs will provide a wealth of information on the competition, the services they offer and how they position themselves within the market. And don’t forget industry magazines, forums, events and speaking to people in the field, whether client or competitor.
What you need to find out:
Is there room in the market for my services?
Arguably, there’s always room for a new service if it offers something a customer wants at a competitive price and great quality. However, in the more saturated markets consider how you can add value to your service to make it more attractive. Sometimes the more unusual the better, comparethemarket.com rose above its myriad competitors simply because of its comparethemeerkat campaign. Love it or loathe it, it sticks out.
What’s the competition doing?
Make a list of the competitors you find on freelance sites and then look closely at their professional websites. Find out what services they offer, how much they charge and who their clients are. Review how they present themselves, what added value they provide and their level of expertise. This can form the basis of a later analysis: what your target clients want which your competitors don’t provide e.g. award-winning, high profile web designers will charge more and may not want to handle smaller firms – perhaps that’s where you can step in offering advice and budget packages.
In order to be competitive aim to emulate the competitor’s best bits (which are relevant to you) while distinguishing yourself from them.
What do clients want?
You want a client who wants your services and is willing to pay for them. Much energy is wasted chasing potential clients who don’t need, or aren’t aware that they need, a service or product. If you focus on clients who use these services, your only task will be to convince them that you’re the best person for the job.
Have on online presence. Be on Twitter and forums, subscribe to blogs and newsletters. Take note of client issues and consider how you can address them. Naturally this will be an ongoing exercise to be continued after the initial market research.
Following your research come back to your business strategy and ask:
- What are my key skills?
- Where do I fit within the marker/where should I position myself?
- How can I provide added value?
- Who might want my services and be willing to pay my fees?
Armed with this information, you will be able to offer relevant, competitive services – an excellent start for any business.