Freelancers could be devoted members of your coworking space.
Not all freelancers have the possibility to work from home. It’s true that a cozy home office gives you freedom and saves you commuting expenses, but it’s by no means ideal. Many freelancers can’t have dedicated workspaces at home or might have a crowded family that robs them of the concentration they need. Or they might simply feel more or less in a working mood if they dress up and work from an office.
All in all, some freelancers prefer to work from a coworking space if they find it conducive to their needs. In this article, I’ll explain how you can provide an ideal work environment for freelancers and attract them to your coworking space.
Those hot desks could be sold out more quickly if you have a marketing strategy targeting freelancers. Freelancers spend a lot of their time online so digital marketing is probably the best way to attract them to your coworking space.
Here are some digital marketing ideas you can use:
People tend to use search engines (like Google) for any kind of information they’re looking for so it’s a must to have a search engine optimization strategy to attract new members. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of practices that help search engines to better crawl your website and list your content accordingly when someone searches for the keywords you’re targeting.
Keywords are the terms people use when searching for information online. “Coworking spaces in Denver” is a keyword people might use when searching for a coworking space in Denver. In order to be listed in the search results for this keyword, the first step is to target this keyword by producing content about it.
If you own a coworking space in Denver and want to be shown in the business listing, you need to create a business profile with Google and submit all the necessary information there. Check out how to do local SEO for your business. If you want to rank for more general keywords such as “how to find a coworking space”, you need to write useful blog posts and promote them by building links to them.
In general, you need to have a good understanding of the kind of keywords that might be relevant to searches related to coworking, and then create content around those keywords. At the end of the day, ranking for the keywords you’re targeting depends a great deal on the quality of your content and your domain authority. Content marketing tools can help you a lot in researching content opportunities and promoting your content.
Due to the nature of their work and how they find clients and engage with them, freelancers are typically active on social media platforms. With a good social media strategy you could reach freelancers on social media and promote your coworking space.
There are three questions you need to answer before embarking on social media marketing:
What are your goals?
Are you trying to increase awareness about your coworking space? Are you using social media to drive traffic to your website and improve sales? Or are you planning to engage with your audience and create a community of loyal members? Before embarking on content production, you need to decide on the goals you want to achieve with your social media campaigns.
Where should you be?
If you have the resources to be active on all social media platforms, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t. But if this means scattering your focus and producing thin content on multiple platforms, I would say it’s a no-no. You need to focus on a few platforms you think your audience is active on and produce superb content that engages them. Freelancers are typically active on LinkedIn and Twitter so it’s a good idea to focus on these platforms.
What kind of content to share?
It’s important to know what kind of content your audience is interested in. Are they more interested in visuals or text? Are they looking for entertaining or educational content? It’s a good idea to create a customer persona in order to answer these questions.
There are different kinds of advertisements you can try. Social media and search engine ads are quite popular these days. Ad networks that secure ad placements on different websites (such as freelance websites) could be great choices as well. You can even try and buy sponsored content placements on popular websites or email newsletter. The point is you need to find out what’s working best for you, so you always need to keep an eye on your analytics.
Search engine ads
Search engine marketing (SEM) is the practice of placing paid ads in the search results for different keywords. This is ideal for showing your ads to people looking for coworking spaces online. Try to target keywords such as “coworking in [your area]”, “top coworking companies”, “coworking offices/desks/etc.”, “coworking spaces for freelancers”, or any other related keywords.
Social media ads
Ads work great on social media. That’s because you can take advantage of advanced audience targeting features to improve your ads’ relevance. So for example, if you’re trying to advertise your coworking area only to designer freelancers located in Boston, you can easily do it.
Ads could basically be placed anywhere especially the places that your target audience frequently occupies, including certain websites and newsletters. Editorial ads are placed in publications, websites or newsletters that typically publish non-advertising content. Identify publications and newsletters that freelancers are interested in and invest in editorial ads in them.
These days it’s common for freelancers to rely on a network of like-minded people for job referrals, tools recommendations, or other kinds of support. A referral program is the best thing you could do to take advantage of this. Some brands even use an app referral program to promote their company and its values.
Basically, a referral program is a system that rewards your customers for the referrals they send to your business. A referral program is effective because essentially it’s a word-of-mouth strategy: your current freelancer customers recommend your working space to their fellow freelancers, and this has the highest impact on their decision.
As Liviu Tanase, co-founder and CEO of ZeroBounce, explains, referral programs can do wonders if done the right way, "one of the best things we did for our business was set up a referral program. If your product or service has loyal customers and passionate fans, why not give them a lucrative opportunity to promote your business? The only thing we regret is not doing it sooner,” adds the entrepreneur.
If a referral program is a word-of-mouth marketing strategy, then customer experience has the most impact in its success. People only promote products and services they’ve had a great experience with so it's extremely important to provide the best experience throughout their entire customer journey. A suitable coworking space management solution can help you provide a seamlessly pleasant experience from booking and payment to customer support and customer data analytics. andcard’s integration options and API can help you take advantage of third-party solutions for different business processes such as access control, cloud printing, etc.
Although a great customer experience is the main reason people would recommend you to their friends, it’s equally important to offer some kind of reward to facilitate the referral process. For example, Expansive Workspace offers fees for any of the referrals you send their way.
Before finalizing your referral reward, it’s highly recommended that you get in touch with your customers and ask their opinions. That way, you won’t waste money on expensive rewards that won’t generate results. andcard’s Stream, a native members communication platform, can help make the complex process of soliciting customer feedback quite easy.
It’s important to let people know about your referral program. Your current members could easily be informed through your owned channels such as email, your native messaging app or your mobile app. You can also promote your referral program to non-members through social media, search engine ads, and most importantly on your website.
Freelancers are a broad category of contractors with different skill sets, roles, and as a result, different work environment expectations. They could function as independent content creators with flexible working hours, or they could be top-level management consultants that need a dedicated office for their own teams.
To cater to freelancers’ diverse needs, you need to offer different membership options. Some freelancers might be happy to use your hot desks, but others might need dedicated desks in a more or less quiet environment. Freelancers that manage a team might need private offices to run their business.
Here are some membership options you can offer freelancers:
Hot desks are typically the base membership option for many coworking spaces. In this plan, members can have access to a desk and either be charged based on the number of days they have access to the desk (5 days per month for example) or the number of hours they wish to use the desk. It’s ideal to provide both these options (hourly vs. daily) to make sure people interested in using your desks part-time don’t end up paying for the whole day.
Dedicated desks are reserved for private use during a person’s membership period. They come with a dedicated locker that could hold a member’s tools and are most often available 24/7. This is ideal for people interested in having a more private area (compared to the hot desks) and using the whole space of a desk for their own (for extra monitors for example). To sweeten the deal, you can offer a few days credit for using your meeting rooms with your dedicated desks plans.
Private offices (or suites for bigger office areas) are probably the most premium membership plan you could offer your customers. People choosing this plan could use the privacy and the vast space of an entire office alongside the coworking community amenities. This could be ideal for freelancers managing a few team members or the ones that need a more private area to chat with their clients on the phone.
A virtual coworking space provides pretty much the same membership benefits as a physical space with the only difference that members don't have to be at the same place. So features such as having a reception, call answering, virtual groups or events, etc. are still available but the members don’t really need to be physically present in your coworking space to take advantage of them. This is ideal for freelancers that prefer a remote work environment, manage a remote team, or are frequently traveling but need a stable physical address for their business.
It’s a good idea to have different pricing options available in each one of your membership plans. Daily vs. hourly use could be one way to distinguish between your pricing options. The daily option makes it possible for your members to choose the days they wish to use your environment (rather than booking the whole month) and pay according to their preferences.
Hourly option for your hot desks is also a great motive for freelancers interested in using your space part-time. A person interested in using your hot desks for three hours a day does not need to pay for the full day. It’s also a good idea to have your coworking space available 24/7 so that people with different preferences could take advantage of your working environment.
When it comes to choosing a coworking space, people are not just interested in the physical environment. They typically look for other tools and services that these spaces offer as well.
Here are some of these tools and services:
First things first, you need to invest in premium furniture such as desks, chairs, sofas. Office tools such as internet connections, monitors, printing and faxing machines, phones, etc. are also important. For the people who spend most of their work hours on a desk behind a screen, it’s extremely important to feel comfortable and have all the tools they need under the same roof.
Meeting rooms are essential for managing any kind of business. Even freelancers might need meeting rooms to schedule meetings with their clients, not to mention managing their own teams. So it’s a great idea to provide a place where their meetings could take place easily.
No work environment is ideal without a place for ordering refreshments and enjoying your time with coworkers. Cafeterias and kitchens are just the places to do so. Aside from providing food and dining space for your members, they could be a source of income for your coworking space.
A coworking space is a place to increase productivity and thrive in business. Studies show that people working in a coworking environment “report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale”.
Freelancers are always looking for ways to find new clients, increase their productivity, manage their projects, supervise and engage with their employees, automate tasks, etc. It’s a good idea to provide consulting and mentorship in various aspects of business development to help them thrive in business.
Suitable daycare might be the main reason parent freelancers choose your coworking space. It might not be possible for them to leave their children with relatives or drop them off at a distant kindergarten. With a professional child care service available at their workplace, parents are able to focus on their work and be available when their kids need them.
To provide a satisfactory child care service, aside from a playground, you should provide fresh and tasty food for children, hire professional teachers and nurses that know how to deal with them and use cameras and security measures to have a safe environment for children.
Events, workshops, seminars, or any other kinds of networking opportunities are ideal for business growth. You can hold events for your current members and improve their experience with your work environment, or you can hold events in order to attract new members.
Happy hours, lunch-and-learns, day trips, purposeful networking & breaks, family events, member wall, invited speakers, book clubs, and bike-to-work are some of the events you can hold for your current members.
Shadowing, free pass days, meetups, conferences, concerts, game nights, tech talks are some of the events you can hold in order to attract new members to your coworking space.
Contrary to what most people think, working from home is not always an ideal option for freelancers. Parent freelancers for example might be interested in spending most of their working hours in an office because they could have more concentration. Freelancers who have recently transitioned from their corporate jobs might feel they’re more comfortable and productive in an office environment. And thriving freelancers who manage a team of their own or handle multiple meetings with clients might feel the need to take advantage of the office amenities and tools of a coworking space.
Whatever the case, freelancers could be loyal members of your coworking space if you know how to attract them and provide for their needs. Hopefully, this article will help you learn how to attract freelancers and provide the ideal work environment for freelancers.
The article was written by Mostafa Dastras. Mostafa has written for some companies such as HubSpot, WordStream, SmartInsights, LeadPages and MarketingProfs. What keeps him up at nights is how he can help his clients increase sales with no BS content marketing. Visit his blog, LiveaBusinessLife, or connect with him on LinkedIn to get to know him better.