Self promotion Part 1: Entering and/or winning awards

Freelancers don’t have the marketing budgets of large corporations but they still have the need to promote and market themselves. In this short series I’ll be talking to local web professionals and hearing about their self-promotion techniques. Part 1 focuses on entering/winning awards.

Matt Booth is a freelance Flash developer based in the North West and working for clients such as LOVE Creative, Poke, and McFaul to name but a few. The work Matt has done while freelancing earned him a Big Chip Award in 2008. He is also the organiser of the creative meet-up group, Northern Digitals.

Why did you decide to enter the Big Chip awards?

Matt: I’ve had success in previous Big Chip Awards while working full-time and I wanted to see how I would fair since going freelance.

For a freelancer the awards are an important self promotional tool. All I was hoping for was to be shortlisted, giving me a news article to approach potential clients with.

I entered the awards myself asking a couple of clients to write a few words on what it had been like working with me. I feel this swung it for me really.

Do you think winning the award has led to an increase in business?

Matt: Winning the award has certainly raised my profile but I can’t say if it has directly led to an increase in business

Although the Big Chip Awards are very well know and respected in the North, a lot of my work comes from other areas so I did have to go on a bit of a PR offensive to let people know about the awards themselves and my success in them.

Has winning the award led to any unforeseen benefits?

Matt: Yes it has. This year I’ve been lucky to be featured in a couple of trade publications including a few issues of Computer Arts Projects. Although this came from approaching them myself rather than the awards directly, they were very keen to hear my take on them.

I have now built up a great relationship with the magazine will be working with them more next year including my first tutorial for them in January’s issue.

Do you think the award has increased your credibility in the eyes of existing/potential clients?

Matt: I’ve not had potential clients contacting me as a direct result of the award, but when approaching new clients winning the award is just as an important part of my portfolio as who I’ve worked for.

What other methods of self promotion do you use?

Matt: Self promotion for me as a freelancer is extremely important but relatively simple. If people aren’t aware of you, you are unlikely to get work. So I concentrate on contacting the agencies, designers, developers I want to work with wherever they may be. I contact the publications in the hope of some coverage and I’m making more of an effort to get involved with relevant meetup groups. Also using sites such as Linked-in, Behance, Carbonmade is a simple way to get noticed.

It’s an ongoing task though so I will be looking at new ways of self promotion in the new year.

You’ve also recently started a local meetup group. What’s the reasoning behind that?

Matt: I found myself complaining about the lack of meet up groups in and around Manchester for creatives as well as a lack of communication between the agencies.

I find myself working in London quite a lot and there are dozens of informal meet up groups and events you can attend during the week.

So one Friday afternoon I decided stop complaining and set Northern Digitals up. The response has been fantastic with around 170 members so far and around 40-50 people from all aspects of the creative industry coming along to each event.

The idea is simple really and nothing new. It’s an informal meet up on the first Thursday of every month where creatives get together in a bar in Manchester and make new contacts.

I will also be looking at developing Northern Digitals in the new year, but more news on that will follow.

Has the meetup group had any positive effects on your business?

Matt: I wouldn’t say it has had a positive effect on my business in terms of getting work, but what it has done is strengthen my list contacts, after meeting designers, photographers, illustrators, developers etc I wouldn’t have normally met. The great thing about the meet up is that it has done exactly the same for the people who attend, which was the main reason for setting it up.

Your experiences

Have you been nominated or won any industry awards? Have they lead to any work related benefits?

Self promotion mini-series articles

One response to “Self promotion Part 1: Entering and/or winning awards”

  1. Hey chaps! Congrats on the award Matt and thanks for Northern Digitals, I’ll see you there next week.

    I just wondered what your take was on whether winning awards and building profile helps you to determine your own higher prices at all? If it doesn’t perhaps directly bring you in any more work, does it serve to at least recognise your abilities more, thus allowing you to charge more?

    Surely see you both soon,