HomePostsOct 10, 2008

What to do with downtime: slow-going tips post #1

Anyone charged with finding business for themselves dreams of the days when you’ll be able to reject more projects then you take. In the meantime, drumming up business can seem like a very daunting thing to do. There are lots of places to find ideas but what will work for you depends on what work you do, what you like doing, and what resources you have at your disposal. It can be frustrating to face an empty inbox or a clear schedule but if you’re not going to get out there and do the leg-work, no one will.

I’m new to all of this… how can this help?

I’ve worked with several people who wanted to increase the amount of paying customers they were seeing. Together, we came up with a few ideas for how this could be done. Some of these things work and some of them don’t but if you’re at a slow spot, it’s certainly not going to hurt you to market yourself a little bit.

Idea #1 – More/better search-able content.

If it’s been over 6 months, it’s time to change, update, and add to the content on your website. Even if your information is timeless, correct, full of tasty keywords, and prolific, it pays to continue to build on what you have. I can’t think of one popular site out there that has information on it that doesn’t change. What to write? You can detail the services you offer. Do you teach a class? Are you attending or speaking at an event? Do you do something that no one else does? Write about it and post it on your site. Search engines can’t do much to find your site without text and if your site is just a few sentences and your phone number, why do you have a website? Tell a story about yourself.

Contact me if you need help coming up with ideas, want a second pair of eyes, or you’re not sure how to make your content as findable as it could be.

Idea #2 – Strategic flyers

Internet marketing is one piece of the puzzle, but maybe you’re missing another big piece. Put a flyer together (or have someone like me do it for you) and put it in coffeeshops, post it on college campuses, and tack it to appropriate corkboards locally. Not everyone uses the internet to find everything they need (I know, crazy, huh?). Get yourself out there locally and don’t be afraid to talk to different people.

I can help you lay out a flyer, figure out what to say, and make sure that it’s optimized for printing. I also know some amazing print designers if you want to take it to the next level.

Idea #3 – Hit the streets

Talk about what you do to everyone you meet. Almost anyone I meet for the first time knows what I do after a minute or two of conversation. I’m not pushing it down anyone’s throat but it can be a great icebreaker, first of all, and it can always lead to paid work. Not meeting many people? That’s not true, you meet new people all the time. You talk to people at the store, on the street, to people ringing you up, to other people in line, maybe to classmates. If you’re afraid to put yourself out there then it’s going to be hard to drum up any business.

Let me help you design a business or use the internet to find groups in your area.

Remember: it’s only as hard as you make it.

This kind of leg-work can seem like the hardest thing in the world to someone who doesn’t know where to start or has no experience in it. Working for yourself, even if it’s a part-time, off-hours hobby or niche, has to involve putting yourself out there and making your services known. Answering ads and helping friends only goes so far with respect to interest generation. Once you’ve milked your network, it’s time to move beyond.

The one thing I keep in mind when I post on this blog, reach out to a potential client, or hand a business card to someone is that I’m a unique person offering a unique service. I might not be the only one doing what I’m doing but only I do it the way that I do. There are people out there who don’t know me that couldn’t find a use for what I’m doing if they tried (these are the people falling behind their peers, FYI). There are also people who aren’t a fan of my aesthetics or my color choices or my layout tendencies. These people will never call me for a job and will never use my services. There are, however, far more people that could use what I have to make their lives easier. There are small businesses out there who want to do more with the internet but just don’t know how. And there are individuals who just want what they have to work. I can help all of these people but, until I find them or until they stumble onto my site, they’re putting up with processes and equipment that does not work.

Take a chance, risk a little bit of rejection, and make yourself known. You’ll be glad that you did.

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