Perhaps you need the time to be around your kids or you’ve always wanted to chase a dream. Whatever the reason, becoming self-employed can be exciting and rewarding. There are a lot of challenges involved in it, but being a successful self-employed businessperson is an experience like no other. If you’re just beginning to start on this journey, then you need to put a lot of effort into your marketing strategy. This factor can make or break a self-employed operation, especially if you’re based online. Here are some important tips for marketing yourself.
The first, and probably most important tip, is to have a blog or a website. No matter what kind of business you’re setting up, this is an absolute necessity. Just think about the amount of time you spend browsing the web. I’m sure you can think of a time when you weren’t intending to buy anything, but ended up doing it anyway! The internet is the first place people go to find any kind of product or service, and you need to be accommodating for that. For a lot of contractors, using a free blog service will be more than enough. However, if your business exists in a competitive niche, it’s best to go with something more professional. You can get some great web design tips from Smashing Magazine. Although outsourcing this work can be very costly, the results are much better than what you’d get for free! Hiring a design service will also help you to make your site responsive.
By Vishraval (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Once you’ve got a good-looking and functional website in place, it’s time to start letting people know about your business. You could have the best entrepreneurial tact in history, but if your marketing stinks then your business isn’t going to go very far. Luckily, promoting your small business is much easier now than it has been in the past. The moment your site goes live, you should start working to have it listed in several different directories. When your site appears on Manta, Yelp, White Pages and so forth, it will be reaching far more people than it was previously. While being listed is a great way to market yourself, it isn’t cheap! You should set a strict marketing budget when you begin, to ensure you can invest in other things as your business grows. Aside from these website directories, there are a range of other digital marketing techniques you should be using. There are a lot of free SEO techniques you could utilise, and other paid tactics which will do a lot for your traffic. Take a look at these PPC management services from CandidSky for an example. There are all kinds of methods for getting your name out there, so make sure you use them!
I also recommend setting up a referral or rewards promotion in your early days. From copywriters to dentists, every self-employed person can use and benefit from these marketing techniques. It’s not hard to understand the success in this. Offering your customers incentives for coming back will certainly help your business in its early days. Even if you’re only saving pennies, a special offer can be very enticing. Your promotions and referrals shouldn’t be totally centred on the customer, however. You might want to turn to other, non-competing businesses and offer to collaborate with them. Obviously, it should have some kind of link. For example, if you were running a local cleaning service, then you might want to incentivise with local estate agents. Or, if you’re a graphic designer, you could trade some promotional fliers with a marketing business. There are even programs like Spot On which will help with this. Make sure to get a well thought-out plan in place before jumping into this kind of marketing though. If you’re offering a free service as a promotion, and doing this costs you more than gaining a new customer, then it’s best to avoid it. However, if you figure you’re going to be making a gain from incentives, then I urge you to go ahead with it.
Running your self-employed business may feel like a daunting, difficult task at the moment. Believe me, the first few months are always the hardest. If you provide a quality service or product, they will come. I’ll leave you with one last tip: network. This can not only be great for your marketing, but can benefit every facet of your operation. Whether you use it for collaboration or to spy on your competitors, look up some networking events and start attending!