The Art of Subtle Marketing for Freelancers: Getting New Clients and Increasing Reputation

Previously published on Initium

Being a freelancer may seem all fun and easy on the outside, but when it actually comes to the extra nuances associated with the job of a freelancer, it may seem tiring. Of course, freelancing is fun and enjoyable for most part of the time, but it isn’t easy as many think and one of the difficult aspects of freelancing is getting new clients, more like getting worthy clients. So what if I say that there is one way to get clients without describing yourself as someone ‘looking for opportunities’?

The Art of Subtle Marketing

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If you are still wondering what I mean by subtle marketing, I can describe it one sentence — marketing without making it look like you’re selling something but making a sale at the end of the day!

Sounds interesting, right?

Figuratively speaking, subtle marketing is just putting yourself out there and wait for an apple to fall into your lap. If you are really good at it, you will have the option to choose which one you want and which one you don’t need. Typically, through this, you will start creating a reputation for yourself in your niche through which you can bag some good clients.

When you start with subtle marketing, it may take a little while to gain momentum, but once you are on the right track, there is no stopping it. If you look closely, many industry experts have actually become ‘experts’ after employing the techniques of subtle marketing.

Before we go into detail about how to start with subtle marketing, let’s see why you actually need it.

When Can You Employ ‘The Art of Subtle Marketing’?

There are a lot of ways by which a freelancer can market oneself in their niche industry; some of the popular being social media, websites, word-of-mouth references, etc. But is there any way to market oneself without openly coming out and saying I am worthy of getting the job done for you or your company?

Yes, there is — ‘The Art of Subtle Marketing’ comes to your rescue!

A lot of freelancers, especially the new ones, think that openly pitching themselves for jobs will get them new clients. And yes, it can if the job openings are made known to you. But how can you know about the opportunities that haven’t been public?

Some of the good opportunities in the market for freelancers are those that never come out to the outside world. If that’s the case, then how can you get a job without knowing that there is?

Again, we come to ‘The Art of Subtle Marketing’!

There is a common notion that many writers are introverts. True or not, not only the freelance writers but also other freelancers in the market who are introverts and feel shy to even approach a person for an opportunity. But marketing is the second most important criteria for a freelancer; so how can an introverted freelancer market oneself?

By employing ‘The Art of Subtle Marketing’, of course!

There are a lot of other instances where subtle marketing will prove to be beneficial but these are the right reasons to start with.

How Can You Start with Subtle Marketing?

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Start with Your Website

This is more like a prerequisite to subtle marketing than the actual marketing itself but is a much-needed one.

Do you have a website to show to your clients?

If your answer is no, then that’s the first thing you need to start with. If you have a few years of experience, then it is time to shell out a few bucks and get a domain name that reflects yourself. It may be your name, your occupation or something that defines your character. In case if you don’t want to spend money on it, you even get a free blog or any other medium to decently showcase your works and other related aspects to it.

Be Active on Social Media

By social media, I don’t mean all platforms. Pick one social media handle and be active on it.

It is wise to choose one related to your profession where your clients can see your posts and which will increase your reputation. For example, freelance photographers can use Instagram or Facebook while freelance writers can use LinkedIn.

Once you have chosen a social media, it’s time to fill up your profile. Don’t, in any circumstance, make yourself shown as a novice (unless you are one; in this case, you can learn the important things about your profession and get some quality works to your name and start with subtle marketing).

Don’t ever think that others are superior to you. As you have some quality works to your name, you also do know a few things about the profession and it is high time to make the world know about it.

Without ever mentioning that you are looking for work, start posting the things that you had learnt so far in your journey, some tips for clients and fellow freelancers, good testimonials from clients and good experiences, etc. Post everything from your heart without focusing on getting new clients.

You focus should be only one— make the world know that you know your stuff. Simple as that. You don’t need to post daily but whatever frequency you follow, be consistent with your posts.

Help without expectations

In your career, you may get the opportunity to help a lot of people without any returns; help them without giving it a second thought. You may never know what they will become in the future or who they have contact with.

Of course, your intention shouldn’t be to get something in return someday. But as we say that no good deeds go to waste, it will definitely be fruitful.


If you are an introvert, this might be a bit difficult and awkward, but you can at least interact with those who genuinely want to have a conversation with you. When you talk about your works, be humble but don’t underplay your abilities.

Listening is also a main part of the interaction. So listen to what the other person talks, offer suggestions or help if you can. It may take you just a matter of a few minutes but would help the other person a lot.

What Can You Expect?

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Now that you had followed everything there is to do about subtle marketing, you’re now wondering what is supposed to happen now?

If you have followed all the steps mentioned above, then slowly, after sometime, you will start getting client enquiries. Most would want to look at your works and that’s where the website comes in.

Some clients wouldn’t even start it as an enquiry and instead start interacting casually. That’s why it is important to the network; else you might ignore valuable prospects and fail miserably when they were trying to assess you.

As you make yourself seen as someone who knows what he/she does, more clients will come into direct contact with you to hire you for your services, sometimes even without seeing your works because your posts have shattered any illusion of doubts they had in their mind and trust you to deliver quality output.

‘The Art of Subtle Marketing’ takes time to master but once you get on the right path, it will be a breezy ride and soon enough, you will start to know what steps you should take from thereon.

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