It’s been a year since I started in business on my own – a good time to reflect on the marketing lessons I’ve learnt in 2010.
I haven’t done any formal networking, or cold calling, and I haven’t even got round to sorting out my business cards. But I have managed to build up a network of clients that keep coming back, and who I really enjoy working with. Here’s how it’s working for me.
1. A good website is crucial.
While I loved the design of my first site (thanks Daniel Penfold), I outgrew it quite quickly. A WordPress site (more thanks DP) gave me something I could update myself with writing that would be useful for potential clients and that could stay up to date and relevant to the kinds of people I want to work with. Redoing the site after only 10 months was a great exercise in redefining my offer. Keeping my website valuable is top of my marketing list.
2. Twitter works.
I’m steadily building up a Twitter network that is both useful and entertaining. You make your own community on social networking sites, and I find Twitter a really friendly and supportive place. I know I sometimes cross the boundaries of personal/professional when I’m Tweeting – but I like Tweets from people that come from real life – being funny, or exasperated, or unsure is okay by me. I accept that this isn’t right for anyone, but Twitter is a great showcase for writers, and creating readable tweets is a fab exercise in making the most of a few words. Be useful, supportive and interesting – that’s my approach.
3. Newsletters raise your game.
Both the discipline of creating something valuable, useful and readable once a month, and the credibility it gives you as an authority on your subject is priceless. I picked up a lovely new client after only 2 newsletters, and expect to find more next year. Demonstrate your knowledge in an accessible and useful way.
Working with Sonja to develop Valuable Content has been incredibly good fun, and professionally useful. We’ve pushed each other to achieve things, shared ideas, been each other’s sounding boards, spell checkers and friends. We’ve got big plans for next year, so watch the Valuable Content space. Work should be happy, so surround yourself with good people.
5. Be yourself.
I get on with my clients, and find them really easy to work with and it is more than a happy coincidence, I believe it comes from creating an on-line presence that reflects who I am. People will have checked me out on the website, maybe read my Tweets and newsletter, and decided whether they like my style and approach. People who don’t like the sound of me, won’t get in touch. I’m happy about this – it saves us both time. Be true and the right people will find you.
(I’m basing this theory on the one difficult client I’ve had this year, who came via a contact of a contact of a contact. He hadn’t been through the web/twitter filter – maybe if he had he would have chosen a different writer.)
So for next year? I”m going to do more of the same. More blogging, more writing about how to write, more newsletters, more collaboration, more Tweeting. But I’m going to try my hand at networking too, and I am, I promise, going to get those business cards sorted.