It’s the Business Mums Blog Carnival for February!

It’s that time again!

So if you’ve got a business blog, why not join in the February Business Mums Blog Carnival?

You don’t even need to write a post for the carnival, just pick your favourite from the posts already up on your blog and send the link to the carnival host.

This month your host is Nicola at lifeaftermaternityleave.com 

To enter, email the link to your post to nicola (at) lifeaftermaternityleave.com by 28th Feb and the carnival will be published on 4th March.

If you’re not sure how it all works or what kind of post to enter, you’ll find everything you need to know on the Business Mum’s Blog Carnival page. And you can get your own blog carnival badge there too!

Do you have a visual marketing plan yet? Here’s why you need one…

Today’s guest post comes from Karen Gunton of Build a Little Biz. Karen will be opening her Visual Marketing Workshop on 25th February – click here to find out more.

Chances are you are already using images for your biz in some way, but I am really urging every micro-biz owner to actually consider their visual marketing strategy.

More and more I am seeing evidence of how important it is to have a plan for the ways you are using images to communicate a message about your biz.

From open forum: 5 trends that will shape small businesses in 2013

Visual simplicity becomes the desired communication method. From a design standpoint you don’t need to look beyond sites and services such as Pinterest, Pinvolve and The Fancy to see that people want visual content.”

from fast company: the rise of visual social media

“Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest have ushered in visual marketing as the breakout trend for 2012. Search engines now rank content based on social conversations and sharing, not just websites alone. Brands can use visual content on their social media to increase engagement and inspire sharing and viral marketing. The rise of platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, and Facebook’s multimillion-dollar acquisition of the latter, shows how visual content is becoming an increasingly important force for communication online. Brands that can rock visual media will find themselves market leaders.

from entrepreneur magazine: how photos can make or break your marketing campaign

“I’m trying to find a word other than revolution to describe what’s going on with the use of images online these days. Marketing is all about communicating your value. Tapping into the visual zeitgeist is an excellent opportunity to create messaging for your business that is, well … nothing short of revolutionary.”

See? NOW is the time to be working on visual marketing plan for your biz!

But you may be thinking… but I already share images on Facebook and Pinterest! I already add images to blog posts. I already joined Instagram!

Here is what I want you to consider:

  • How much of your visual content is yours? Are you creating original content to communicate about your business?
  • How much variety do you have in your visual content? Aside from product photos or stock photos, how are you using images for your biz?
  • Do your images match your brand message? Are they branded to link back to your biz and create brand recognition? do they serve a specific purpose?

From snap retail: the 70/20/10 facebook posting rule

There is a great infographic at that link that describes how you should be sharing content on Facebook, and I believe we ought to apply it to visual content as well, and i think we can extend it to other platforms too!

  • 10% of your content should be promotional in nature (so for images this would be your product/service photos, any specials/sales/promos/packages etc.)
  • 20% of your content should be shared from other people’s pages/blogs/websites etc (so these would be all the fun/interesting/inspirational/informative/humorous images that you happen upon and share with your fans)
  • 70% of your content should provide value, be relevant, build brand recognition (so THIS is where your visual marketing strategy is needed. What images/graphics/photographs/videos can YOU create that will do these things for YOUR customers and YOUR business?)

and a word of warning…

You CANNOT just upload other people’s photos to your Facebook page or profile. This is copyright infringement.

Yes, you are allowed to share other people’s images on facebook (using the share button) but for the other 70% content you need to be creating your own images! you cannot just upload photos you find in a Google image search, on Pinterest, or elsewhere!

This is also true for your blog, newsletter, website, Pinterest page, print materials or anywhere else for that matter – you cannot just use other people’s images. you MUST have permission. when you do, you must credit the author and provide a link back. And you can’t alter other people’s images for your own purposes (for instance to add an inspirational quote.)

And you can’t just share other people’s visual content all of the time. Well I suppose you could, but remember the 70% – you would be missing out on a chance to create brand recognition, add value for your customers, be relevant online.

So if you would like your biz to be part of the visual revolution, if you would like to make the most of the opportunities available to you to communicate about your biz and utilize our interest in all things visual, you need to start working on a visual marketing plan.

Karen will be opening her Visual Marketing Workshop on 25th February – click here to find out more.

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Five top ways to find more clients as a freelancer

It can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle to find more clients for your freelance business. But by working away consistently using effective marketing activities, you will get there.

So which activities are particularly effective for a freelancer? Here you go…

1. Referrals are one of the best ways to get new clients. People want freelancers who do great work and are reliable, so they are much more likely to ask around their network for a recommendation than they are to hire a complete stranger. The first step is to do a great job for your existing clients. Then you can either wait for word to spread about you (which can be slow), or you can encourage clients to recommend you. This doesn’t have to be done in a pushy way, it could be as simple as leaving a few business cards with a client just in case she knows someone who needs your services. Or you could give clients a call and ask if they know anyone who might need a graphic designer, virtual assistant or whatever it is that you do.

Try not to appear to be desperate for work (even if you are desperate for work 🙂 ). Not only does that make conversations uncomfortable, it can suggest you’re not that good your job. If you are really short of clients – and it has happened to us all at some time or another – you could just say that “I’ve got some time available in my schedule at the moment which I’d like to fill”. Which is completely true, but doesn’t sound desperate!

Referrals can also come from family, friends or others who are informed about your business. Referrals are sometimes the strongest prospects you will have to work with. Turn those prospects into paying clients!

2. Build a reputation amongst your current clients. Once that reputation is built, it’s important to continue to maintain it by being the best you can be. Give your clients the best possible service. They hired you once – take time to impress them with your skills and knowledge so they will not hesitate to hire you again. Stay in regular contact with them so when they need a service like yours again, you’re the first person they they think of.

Don’t forget to ask current clients for testimonials that you can use to show new prospects just how good you are.

3. Work out your target audience and provide free and useful information to them about your business.  You can create newsletters, reports, articles and even videos that will not only provide viewers with useful information, but also help bring visitors to your website in an effort to gain knowledge from an expert (ie you!)

4. Social media networking is another great way to bring some clients your way. Use platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. There are tons of useful sites that you can tap into and build a reputation amongst a community of people who are interested in what you do and what you have to say.

5. Do you have a blog? If not, then you need to put one together! Blogging is a great way to put your experience out there for others to see. You can also post your blog links on the social networking sites to help lead traffic to your site. This is a great way to bring those prospects to you and will also help build links.

As you can see, there are potential clients just waiting for you to put yourself out there. Once these prospects see your level of expertise, your professionalism and can see for themselves what a great job you have done for others, they will definitely want you to provide services for their business. Some of these new-found clients could become long-term clients who will depend on you to provide services for them on a routine basis.

Don’t miss a thing here at Business Plus Baby :-)   Click here to get my newsletter and  I’ll also send you a copy of  my e-book Running a business around a family: 9 steps to success.

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to find your perfect customer

Today’s post comes from Claire Hughes of Handmade Horizons.

You can grab Claire’s latest FREE ebook for Mums Who Make by clicking here.

Hands up who is excited about 2013? I know I am! Chances are you started January with head full of exciting plans for your business, which you couldn’t wait to get started on.

But if there’s one thing I’d urge you to do before you get stuck into the day-to-day, it’s to have a fresh look at who your target customer is.

If you’ve just started a business or have been trading for a while, you may think you already have a pretty good idea who your target customer is. Perhaps you’d describe them like this:

– “Women who live in the UK and like buying jewellery”
– “Busy mums with kids who live at home”
– “Small businesses who need help with their accounts”

If so – sorry to break it to you, but you’ve got some work to do! Why? These are just too broad. Continue reading “How to find your perfect customer”

If you have PAYE or employees, you need to read this now…

Today’s guest post comes from Claire Meredith of Zest Payroll Solutions

The biggest change in PAYE reporting in almost 60 years will come into effect in April 2013.

At the moment, HMRC are only informed at the end of the tax year of an individual’s earnings and the deductions that were made over the year via their Employer’s end of year return.

From April 2013, Employers will be required to submit a report to HMRC of the payments and deductions made to their Employees before or at the time of making the payment to the Employee.  Real Time Information (RTI) will replace the annual returns that Employers are currently required to submit at the end of the tax year (the P35s and P14s).

What is RTI?

Continue reading “If you have PAYE or employees, you need to read this now…”