As a web industry professional, especially freelancer or independent, it’s challenging to promote yourself and get work done. This means you need to get focused and make the best of limited time. I will say this however: Pay yourself first. Don’t rush like crazy to hit a client deadline, only to find that once that job is done, your plate is empty. First thing every work day, do a little promoting, work on your marketing materials, do invoicing, whatever… just make sure it’s keeping you in business.
Ok, but what do I do?
Let’s make a plan. Here’s the steps:
- Define overall situation. What is your field of expertise? What customer problems do you solve? How do you help existing clients? (Ex. defining business needs, determining how they want to present them selves in branding, developing collateral, marketing event, etc) What is their pain and what do they NEED to alleviate the pain?
- Determine companies you can work/partner with. Who have they partnered with and what markets are they in? Who is your perfect customer? (Here’s a great write-up for figuring out your perfect customer: Avatar Marketing: Sell to Carol at asmartbear.com).
- Set goals for what you want to accomplish with business development/marketing. Do you want to expand services? Reach more potential customers?
- How will you measure success? Set up basic metrics that will indicate if your efforts are a success. Revenue, Customer satisfaction, Inbound leads.
- Action plan. What do you need to do to make this a success? Do you need to create a partner program? Do you need a list of companies? What kinds of marketing materials will you need? Can you leverage referrals?
Start by asking yourself these questions. Just a general answer is good enough to get the idea, but be prepared to do some thinking to ensure you’re setting yourself up for what you actually want to do. I’ll go into these in detail soon, but for now…
I’m too busy for all this!
If you can only spend an hour a week on promoting, try this: Make sure your existing and past clients continue to be aware of your business and what you offer. The easiest way to do this is with a monthly email newsletter. In the newsletter provide real value. That is, don’t just talk about yourself, offer tips and links to articles you think might help your clients. Still don’t have the time? There are loads of great ideas for generating new business at the Institute of Awesome.
Generating new business is great, but what if you really want to step up in the industry and take on bigger projects and clients? Nick Pettit in Climbing the Ladder in the Web Industry says, you need to “meet people in real life” and “demonstrate your value by sharing knowledge”. In other words, get out into the world of meetups, conferences, and other events, and learn to speak intelligently about what you do. If at all possible, get a speaking gig. Ryan Carson of Carsonifed.com says, “when you get on stage, you automatically get the ‘expert’ badge”. Plus, you are much more approachable since people recognize you.
Essentially, you need to start evangelizing yourself. “Share your message, build your network, exude confidence”.
Whether you do a little or a lot, make sure you are always thinking about ways to remind about/share/promote your business. I’ll leave you with a few daily marketing activities from the Institute of Awesome:
Daily Marketing Activities
- Do *Awesome* work
- Share ideas, tips, sneak peeks, etc on: blog, client email, email list, FB, Twitter
- Make connections: write to someone you admire, refer a client to a fellow freelancer, recommend a product or book to colleague/friend/client, post promo materials around town
- Hand out biz cards
- Call an old client or new lead