How to Regularly Promote Your Services as a Freelancer on Instagram (Without Feeling Sleazy)

Instagram Advanced Tips

Bella Foxwell

Bella Foxwell

Promote Yourself on Instagram Without Being Sleazy

Whether you’re brand new to freelancing or you’ve been in the game for a few years, it’s important to regularly promote your services online.

Jan 6, 2022
Update on
January 6, 2022
06 MIN.
Table of Contents

Whether you’re brand new to freelancing or you’ve been in the game for a few years, it’s important to regularly promote your services online. 


That might sound obvious, but after working with many freelancers over the years - and being one myself - I know how difficult self-promotion can be. But it doesn’t have to be. 


Selling isn’t a dirty word and one of the easiest fixes to a slow month or a lack of new clients is simply promoting your services more regularly. And Instagram is the perfect social media platform for this. 


Why? 


Because there are millions of people using the app right now who need your services. And with a focus on visuals, Instagram is the perfect place to capture the attention of those in your niche, especially if you work in a creative field. 


So, keep reading to find out how to regularly promote your services as a freelancer on Instagram without feeling sleazy.

Make it part of your weekly plan

Much like working out, eating healthily or taking your vitamins, regularly promoting your services as a freelancer on Instagram is a whole lot easier when it becomes a habit. 


So how do you turn it into a habit? That comes down to strategy.


When you’re developing your Instagram strategy (for more detail on this, check out our dedicated piece about creating a social media sales funnel that converts), you want to factor in at least one promotional Instagram Story or post into your weekly content plan. If it helps, choose a certain day for this - like Friday.


Now you know that Fridays are reserved for promoting your services, you can plan content ahead of time that’s fun and interactive (more on this in tip #3). This beats the alternative of suddenly realising - at the end of another long week - that you haven’t mentioned your services once before quickly pulling together a Story that feels a little too salesy for your liking. That’s what we want to stop.⛔


Pro tip: I’ve suggested sharing at least one promotional Story/post per week. Notice emphasis on the words ‘at least’. If you want to promote your services two or three times a week, go for it! 


The truth is your Instagram followers are being bombarded with hundreds of messages every single day. While your promotional Instagram content might feel like a lot to you, it’s barely being heard by your followers. They need to hear about your services a LOT to register the message, so remember this next time you feel like you’re being ‘too’ salesy. It takes a lot to cut through the noisy online world. 

Lean on client testimonials

One of the easiest ways to regularly promote your services as a freelancer on Instagram without feeling sleazy is to let your clients and results shout about your brilliance on your behalf.


That’s right. Don’t leave all the work up to you! Especially because this social proof will reduce the risk your Instagram followers naturally feel about investing their money in your services.


Not sure what social proof is? “Social proof” is a psychological effect that leads us to copy other people’s behaviour. When your Instagram followers see the amazing results you’ve achieved for people that look like them, it encourages them to take the same action (i.e. work with you) because they want the same outcome (amazing results).


So share testimonials all. the. time. You can do this in many different ways:

  • Put the spotlight on one client through a deep-dive case study shared on Instagram Stories
  • Showcase various snippets of client feedback through an Instagram Story or carousel 
  • Layer screenshots of results/feedback onto a simple coloured background and share as an Instagram post (or series of posts)
  • Jump onto Instagram Live with a client to chat about their experience using your services and the results you got for them
  • Create a Reel featuring client results or better yet let one of your happy clients take over your Reels like Alex Cattoni from the @copyposse did

The possibilities for sharing engaging client testimonials and feedback are endless. Just make sure you have a process set up to collect them in the first place.

Here are a few ideas to do just that:

  • Include a clause within client contracts that specifies a testimonial be provided within 2 months of project completion
  • Add diary reminders to send out testimonial surveys as client contracts draw to a close
  • Create a template testimonial survey within Google Forms (or similar) so that you always have one ready to send out


If possible, aim to collect a combination of video testimonials as well as written. There’s nothing better than seeing someone’s face light up as they talk about what an amazing job you’ve done for them and their business. 


Here are a couple of examples of really well presented testimonials that you can use to inspire you:


This one is from graphic design freelancer turned course creator Nesha Woolery.


This one from freelance copywriter, Taylor.


Pro tip: Create a "Social Proof" folder on your phone - whether that’s in your photo gallery, Google Drive, or another app you use regularly. Spend 30 minutes screenshotting lovely emails from clients, DMs from happy customers, and stats/results, and save all of them down in your folder. Now, whenever you need to share client feedback on Instagram, you’ve got it to hand!

Make it fun and interactive

Want to make any tricky task easier? First make it fun.


You can make your promotional Instagram content fun by making use of all the interactive features that Instagram has to offer. Namely, Instagram Story stickers:


  • Poll sticker
  • Quiz sticker
  • Question sticker
  • Emoji slider


When I want to promote my services on Instagram Stories, I don’t just share a few slides that say: ‘These are my services and this is how you can work with me.’ There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not hugely inspiring for you or your audience. So, why not get a little creative?


Every month I rotate through 4 different types of promotional Instagram Stories (feel free to steal them!):


Blunt promotion

This Story is exactly what it sounds like! An opportunity for you to bluntly and clearly state what services you have available, who they’re best for, the benefits/results they provide, and how people can get their hands on them. 

Hand-raising

Through a series of targeted questions and poll/question stickers, this Story will get your ideal clients acknowledging their struggles and needs, and then present them with a solution. Examples of hand-raising questions include:


  • Are you a [describe your ideal client e.g. 35-45 year old new mum who struggles to sleep through the night]? [poll sticker]
  • Are you experiencing the following [struggles e.g. daytime tiredness, anxiety, not feeling well rested when you do manage to get a few hours of sleep]? [poll sticker]
  • Would you like [transformation e.g. to sleep a full 8 hours a night by the end of the month]? [poll sticker]


The better you know your ideal customer the easier it will be to create questions that speak directly to them and have them nodding their head saying ‘Yes, that’s me!’. 


Be specific and detailed with these questions so that you encourage interaction from the right people and weed out anyone who isn’t a perfect-fit client. 


This could be you

In this Story, you’re using customer feedback, reviews and results to show your followers how transformational your service is, and showing them… this could be you, too. 


You can tell one client story over multiple slides or share one piece of customer feedback per slide, it’s up to you. The aim of the Story is to present your followers with the transformation you provide and then back it up with appraisals from your happiest clients. A great way to incorporate Story stickers is by opening with a question like:


Do you think it’s possible to [the transformation you provide e.g. to write a novel in 50 days with just 30 minutes of work per day?]


[poll sticker]


By getting people to interact with your Story right from the start, you encourage their buy-in. This means they’re much more likely to stick around and watch the rest of the Story… which is great news for your retention rate. 


What is retention rate? Retention rate is the percentage of people who start watching your Story and stick around until the very end. Generally speaking, a good retention rate is anything above 70%, so start measuring yours and see how you can improve upon it moving forwards. Here’s the calculation:


RR = (Reach of last Story slide*100)/Reach of first Story slide

  1. Special offer


Last but definitely not least is an Instagram Story that is guaranteed to make your followers sit up and listen. Running a special offer once a month is a fun and engaging way to increase enquiries and drum up more business.


This doesn’t just mean slashing your prices. It means being smart with your special offer so that you’re still charging your worth but people feel like they’re getting a great deal. So, what could you add onto your usual packages to create the special offer?


Here are a few examples:

  • Package up some of your smaller services into one (so that clients feel like they’re getting a collection of pricier standalone pieces for a steal)
  • Offer a 30-min follow-up call with yourself 4-6 weeks after your project ends to catch up with the client and address any follow-up questions
  • Throw in a workshop/training/template of yours (that you’ve already created) that could be a great benefit to your client and/or their team
  • Provide a (small) discount for a limited time only e.g. 10% off for 24 hours only


There’s plenty of ways to get creative with your special offer, so spend a bit of time thinking it through!

Teach before you sell

If the thought of promoting yourself STILL makes you feel a bit icky, then try this: start with education and use this to lead into the sale.


For example, share 3 tips to do/feel/achieve something and at the end of the Story, tell your audience that this is exactly what you help clients to achieve through your services. 


This makes regular promotion feel more comfortable because you’re providing value to your audience before asking something of them. If you’ve ever read or watched any of Gary Vaynerchuk’s content you might recognise the term ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook’ which describes a similar principle. As Vaynerchuk puts it:


“Jabs are the value you provide your customers with: the content you put out, the good things you do to convey your appreciation. And the right hook is the ask: it’s when you go in for the sale, ask for a subscribe, ask for a donation.”


Just make sure that you line up the ‘right jabs’ with the ‘right hook’. In other words, make the connection between the education and your services crystal clear. You want your followers to see the benefits of your (free) tips/lessons/wisdom so that they’re interested to learn more about the paid services you go on to promote. 

Provide value

Ok so this tip isn’t technically about promoting your services, but it should help you feel a LOT more confident about doing just that.


Providing value to your Instagram followers through helpful, informative infographics, text graphics, and carousel posts will help you build trust, demonstrate your expertise and underscore your authority. This shows your followers exactly what you’re capable of and convinces them of the quality of your paid-for services.


So make sure that your Instagram content calendar includes lots of how to’s, tips and tricks, myth busting, and tutorials. When you’re sharing this much value, you have every reason to feel great about promoting your services on Instagram without feeling sleazy. You’ve earned it!  

Practice makes perfect

If it makes you feel any better - regularly promoting your services as a freelancer on Instagram with confidence and ease doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a muscle you have to exercise regularly. 


When I first started using Instagram to market my services I was terrified of being too pushy, salesy, or slimy. I truly believed I would either a) lose followers if I promoted myself too much or b) I would die of embarrassment after getting no response at all to my promotional Stories. 


Once I made it part of my weekly plan (tip #1) I had no excuse not to show up and promote. Every Friday I was committed to bluntly promoting my services or sharing a client testimonial or running a special offer. In the beginning I was a bit shy. But as the weeks went on I got better and better at proudly shouting about what I have to offer. 


Especially because I focused on my ideal client and the benefits I could bring them, which brings me nicely onto tip #6...

Get out of your own head

One of the major reasons we avoid actively promoting our services online is because we feel we don’t deserve to. We worry that we’ll come across as salesy or pushy - like that overly pushy business owner we all know and hate. 


Sound familiar?


That might be what’s going on inside your head but that’s not the reality. And the truth is: if you don’t promote your services, you won’t be able to help all the people that could really benefit from them. 


That’s a great way of flipping the script and getting out of your own way - and head. Put your ideal clients first. Remember the value you bring and the transformation you provide. They deserve to hear about this and better yet, experience it. So don’t be afraid to shout about your services from the rooftops. 


Repeat after me: It’s not about me. It’s about my ideal clients. 

Conclusion

Many of your potential clients are already using Instagram for their business or on behalf of the brands they work for. Armed with these tips, you have everything you need to feel great about promoting your services to them without ever feeling sleazy.

Bella Foxwell

Bella Foxwell

Copywriter @Iconosquare

Hey! I'm Bella. Super curious about any new feature released on social media platforms. I do have a preference for Instagram, even though each platform has its specificity ;)

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