15 Guerrilla Marketing Tips For Freelancers

Marketing can be the one thing in your business that sets you apart from your competition, yet so many freelancers are either uneducated on ways to market themselves or are just a bit scared to think outside the box. Lucky for you, we’re doing all of the heavy thinking here today. ;)

Guerrilla marketing is a great way to showcase your freelance business to potential clients without using much cash, thus keeping your business costs low and your ability to pick up and move onto another idea seem almost seamless in transition. So below are 15 killer guerrilla marketing tactics you can start using today.

1. Custom designed bookmarks

Custom designed bookmarks

I’ve said before that business cards inside bookmarks are a great way to showcase your business to people who are looking for books in your target market, but what about taking it a step further and designing some bookmarks that showcase a cool design and also give some information on your business? Then it doesn’t look like a marketing campaign at all and the reader of the books will likely keep the bookmark a lot longer, increasing your chances to make a sale with them.

2. Write tutorials on how to do what it is you do

If there’s one thing that will showcase your skills, writing tutorials will probably be #1 on most peoples list. The benefits for writing tutorials are that you get to show potential clients you know so much about your business that you can write step by step tutorials for someone like them to understand it, even if they have zero previous knowledge about it. It’s ok to boast your knowledge a little bit – and best of all, it only costs you some time (you could even shop the tutorial around and see if a bigger site would pick it up and pay you for it).

3. 1,000 free business cards with every web design

free business cards

Do you design websites for small business owners, or someone who may benefit from business cards? Why not offer 1,000 free business cards to them when they purchase a web design from you – you could even build the price of the cards into your pricing if you want to offset the cost of them. U Printing has 1,000 business cards for around $30.00.

4. Partner with a company outside of your niche

Partner with a company outside of your niche

There’s a lot of talk about building relationships within your niche on social media sites and shaking hands, making friends, ect – but why not step out of your niche and find friends elsewhere? The benefits of this is that you can help them help you and you’re not competing with them for clients. If you’re a web designer who creates website designs for musicians, why not team up with a cd publishing company and co-promote each others services? Think outside the box and get some business cards from people you normally wouldn’t talk to – it’ll definitely pay off!

5. Write your domain on dollars

Write your domain on dollars

No, it’s not illegal – writing on bills is ok as long as it doesn’t affect the ability for the bill to be used in sales. So all you need to do is write your url right on the bottom of the bill without writing over top of anything else and you’re good to go. Do this on every bill that comes across your hands and you’re sure to get 1,000+ bills out there in no time. And they’re circulating in areas you normally wouldn’t even be in, so the reach is large.

6. Go overboard on the stamps

Go overboard on the stamps

Sending your business package to potential clients in the mail can have you end up in the bin of other businesses trying to pitch their ideas, but what if you used more stamps? If you have 39 of the 1 penny stamps on the envelope, what are the chances that it catches the potential clients eye when they’re shuffling through their mail?

7. Start your own blog directly on your site

Start your own blog directly on your site

This ties into the tutorial idea above, but why not start a blog about the type of topics that your potential clients would benefit from reading? Explain how you handle business transactions, show the productivity tools you use, showcase pictures of your office, discuss the benefits of hiring a _________ (insert designer, photographer, copywriter, programmer, ect). The traffic will build and the exposure could turn into some very big clients coming across your work.

8. Hold a free presentation about your business

Hold a free presentation about your business

Mason from Small Fuel could explain to you better as to why this is a great idea and why the 15-30 minutes of talking it takes to hold a presentation could turn into cold hard cash. You can read his article here.

9. Hold a contest and offer your services as the prize

Hold a contest and offer your services as the prize

If you’re wanting to get more eyes to your website, this is a good idea as long as you’re offering quality services/products. You can actually see how this works here on SpyreStudios by checking out the Giveaways category. It’s definitely a great way to gain momentum for a newly launched website and company.

10. Give a gift for the holidays

Give a gift for the holidays

It’s Christmas time, so why not send potential clients a gift basket? It’s a nice gesture and will definitely show them that you’re not just a paper and pen type of company – you have a beating heart and you’re a real person. That is one of the main things companies look for, so doing this puts you at the front of the race.

11. Cross promote on 404 pages

Cross promote on 404 pages

If someone finds a broken link or tries to view a page that just isn’t there, why not showcase some information about your business on it? It’s extra ad space that is often underused and is visible to a good amount of people – you’d be amazed at how many people get 404 errors on your website/blog.

12. Pay for word of mouth

Pay for word of mouth

Spend a bit of cash, hire some people to help promote your business and let them hit the pavement (so to speak). When someone has a cash incentive to talk about a company, they are much more open to promoting them to their friends. When someone refers a company to their friend, the friend is much more likely to use that company. It’s a win/win for you and the person doing the promotion for you. A lot of bands have street teams, why can’t you?

13. Enter business awards and CSS galleries

I put the two together here, even though they’re a bit different. Entering your company into business awards can be a great way to showcase your talent to your peers and also gain attention of competition as well as business who could benefit from your services. Entering the CSS galleries like CSS Mania and CSS Remix is a great way to showcase your site as well as drive a ton of traffic to your website.

14. Hold a benefit dinner

Doing this shouldn’t be about you – it should be about a special cause that you’d like to raise some money for. Although, the promotion from having your name side by side with the benefit could do really well for your business and also show your local community that you’re a business that cares about others. I’m planning on doing a couple of these this summer.

15. Get active on social media sites

Get active on social media sites

WAIT! Before you skip over this one, hear me out. You need to be active on social media sites, but utilize them in ways that others haven’t yet. Engaging your potential clients is one thing, but turning your twitter account into one that just randomly tweets about your business is a completely different idea. Me, I’d stick more to the first method. If a social media site doesn’t seem beneficial to your business, don’t be mad. Find the one that your client base is hanging out on and utilize that instead.

What do you think?

Let us know in the comments what you think of these ideas and if you’ll ever use any of them. We really appreciate your comments :)


  1. says

    I think the most important think when marketing yourself as freelancer is to have a updated and creative website – I’ve recently updated mine but it was ‘Under Construction’ for a long long time which doesn’t help when businesses and friends are trying to recommend your service – it’s truly a sin!

    Regarding point #12 – do you think it’s professional to approach current clients and offer them a fee for every successful referral?

  2. says

    Great ideas Mike. Writing the domain name on the dollar is a creative idea, but I’m not sure I’ll want to write on every single dollar that comes through. :)

    The business card idea is one that is worth looking into. I think it’s a good selling point. BTW, all the other ones are great.

    Out of all these, I would say that social media and blogging has probably been the most effective for me.

  3. RtotheJ says

    Writing on US currency is a big NO NO only because the written law can be interpreted in many ways, and if it is up to the US govt. to interpret it they will always side on the illegal. Remember a law is only as good as it can be interpreted.


    United States currency and coinage are governed by federal law through the U.S. Treasury Department. Generally, it is illegal to fraudulently deface, mutilate, impair, diminish, falsify, scales or lightens any coins minted or “coined” in the United States or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in use or circulation as money within the U.S. (18 U.S.C. 331)

    It is also a crime to fraudulently possess, pass, publish, sell or attempt to possess, pass, publish, sell or bring into the U.S. any such coin with knowledge that the coin has been altered, mutilated, defaced, etc. (18 U.S.C. 331)

  4. says

    Thanks for the tips! I recently started a blog (#7) and it has definitely increased traffic. Also, cross promoting on 404 pages (#11) is an excellent idea. I’ll be implementing that soon!

  5. says

    I love the idea of the direct mail piece, as a designer we tend to want to so some really cools stuff.

    But in my case that really cool stuff is either extremely time consuming or cost more than I can spend.

    But doing this simple idea I could imagine would make any piece stand out from the pile of junk mail a prospect will get…

    Thanks and Regards

    Noel for Nopun.com
    a graphic design studio

  6. says

    Don’t over-stamp packages. I previously worked for the USPS and items with too many stamps are suspicious packages and a sign that it is an explosive device. After a few tests, they will determine it isn’t, but there will be a delay and the package could be returned to you.

    Try using BIG stamps or unconventional packaging.

  7. says

    @designinformer – you could always get a stamper and have your domain on it. would cut down production time a lot :)

    @David – yeah, I think it works out well as long as you don’t sound desperate when talking to them. Make it sound like it’s for THEIR benefit, not yours.

    @everyone else – thanks for the replies. Glad you liked the article :)

  8. says

    Excellent ideas! I have grown a business from just me as a freelance designer to a full service advertising agencies using a combination of these ideas! Highly recommend them all!

  9. Polar Bear says

    @David: It could be easy to not come off as desperate. Simply create an email blast to your current clientele stating:

    Recently we’ve been getting referrals from our clients which has brought us great business! Because we believe that word-of-mouth referrals are important and also that your time is valuable, we believe you should be paid for it!

    In fact, we are starting *insert program name here* where we will pay you to refer business to us. We know we have a greater chance of a more fulfilling partnership with clients that are friends with our clients so this is our way of saying thanks.

    Or something like that… This way it comes off as: You’ve already been referred (which should be true by now) and that this is a company-wide program and not a plea for help.

    Hope that helps!

  10. says

    Excellent article! I fell in love with #5 and instantly began planning the guerrilla bill attack here in Finland.

    I have done a similar guerrilla campaign, but with painted canvases. We spread 13 urban canvases throughout the city with double sided adhesive tape and all the canvases had the http://www.qmtk.net url written on them as a signature. The ultimate goal in this was to spread street art in a new way and we activated the people to go search the hidden canvases with a video we shot and uploaded it in YouTube.

  11. Kevin Cannon says

    CSS galleries are totally useless. Yes you get traffic, but think about it. 99% of that traffic is other web designers, who are the least likely of anybody to need your services. And if you analyse the traffic, you’ll find that people coming from CSS galleries don’t stay for more than 10 seconds.

  12. lydizzle says

    I am love number 5 too! good advertising…
    BUT number 15 has helped me a ton! I think more people need to jump on the social media train! but I know many people are either intimidated by it or don’t care for it. I am so glad there are resources we can turn to to help us learn more about utilizing social media to our business’ benefit. One great resource I have found is in a book called ‘Market Yourself’ by JP Jones. It’s a great and extremely easy read!

  13. says

    Hey it’s a rough world out there for freelancers, and if this is the best way to manipulate the competition and gain a head-up on your clients, I say go for it! Amazing tips as i would always expect at SpyreStudios, keep up the awesome posts!

  14. says

    It’s interesting thinking about these ideas for spreading the word on your freelance design activities … #5 which has grabbed the most attention perhaps … you wonder how people would take this. Would someone type in the url and if they did, would they think ‘is this the sort of business that I’d trust mine with, scribbling on banknotes?’ But, you never know, someone might! …..

  15. says

    Some great tips. the writing on money one is an interesting idea! I would love to maybe do some custom stamps BUT i don’t send enough mail to make it worthwhile!

    Another tip might be to include a business card (or even just a URL on an invoice) when you sell something on ebay!

  16. Varun says

    5. Write your domain on dollars

    This doesn’t appeal to me at all, sounds desperate, it would sort of lower the value of your design brand in my opinion.

  17. says

    #5 trick has been widely used by the opposition in Iran to spread their message, gov’t has big problems there to remove the “signed” bills from the streets.

    I like the bookmark idea: always a fan of stuff that actually has practical use. I wonder if it’s illegal to go into libraries and/or book stores & hide those into the kinds of books you’d imagine your customers read?

    A travel agency in Finland last summer (which was rather rainy) slipped saddle covers on publicly parked bikes’ saddles before a rain. People found their bike saddles dry after rain, maybe considered booking a trip to a less rainy place too :)

  18. says

    As the author of Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days, let me commend your post as being spot on. Many of these, I have used often with clients and you have introduced some new ones. Since Guerrilla marketing is using time, energy and imagination to market with, you have definitely hit on the imagination portion. I applaud your work and your website. One note: Guerrilla has two r’s and two l’s and no O so the “gorilla” connotation on your website can be a double entendre that is not intended by the guerrilla marketing purists…at any rate congrats on your approach and accomplishments and let me know if your imagination extends to linking up together collaboratively. Al Lautenslager, author, Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days….http://www.marketforprofits.com

  19. says

    few genius ideas like writing your domain on bills and go overboard on stamps.
    i’m actually going to try a few, and definitely going to share this article with the crowd.

  20. says

    Great tips! I’ve read a lot of articles on guerrilla marketing techniques and a lot of them are often the same, but I tend to pick up one or two new ones. 404 page cross-promotion is a new one for me. Thanks for the ideas!

  21. says

    I like the idea of No.11, a free and great way to promote your site or business. However, from reading another blog post, I learned that you can redirect your 404 pages to your home page. That’s also a smart move to ensure every single traffic will land on the right page.

  22. says

    This is definitely an out-of-the-box way to stay ahead of the freelance market game. Thanks for the helpful tips! I bet a lot of freelancers find all of it very useful on their hunt for their next freelancing gig. Cheers!

  23. says

    Yeah, ideas are great, out of the box. But the only thing is that you can’t have time for every method mentioned in this article, you’ve got to pick the one in order to achieve success in particular marketing field. Now the question is:
    1. Whether you have good enough time to take over the market in specified marketing method
    2. Will you be able to still stay in your freelance field (if it is not marketing) after spending all your time on the marketing


  1. 15 Guerrilla Marketing Tips For Freelancers…

    Marketing is the one thing that sets your business apart from the competition, yet so many freelancers are either uneducated on how to market themselves or are just a scared to think outside the box….

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