1. Can you be easily found and contacted?
As well as having your own website, LinkedIn can be a huge boost to running your business. In many ways, it’s quite similar to a website in format, as you can upload all your work, articles and more. But, most importantly, it is a community. You can become engaged in various groups as well as communicating directly with others, and it means you can be easily found. Make use of testimonials, both here and on your website, and share great feedback from clients.
Be sure to offer your email address clearly on your website; if possible, it’s good practice to avoid using generic Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail accounts. Don’t leave the inbox dormant – it’s important to be polite and get back to someone, even when you’re too busy for their project. They could be your future client.
2. Do you have a professional website?
As referenced in an article on page 20, you may not run your business with a website. But if you do, then it’s important to make it a professional operation. There are many providers out there, from WordPress to SquareSpace, making it possible to create a sleek-looking site to rival the big brands. Layout is everything, so order things into categories and ensure you have a portfolio – perhaps a CV too – available to view. Imagery should be clear, not pixelated. Don’t be tempted to grab something from a Google image search as this can get you into trouble, and of course photographers should be properly credited for their work. Going for stock imagery is a safe bet.
Domain name is also important. Whether your brand name is your own name or something else, own it and make it your domain. IPSE has recently launched a partnership with 123Reg and Microsoft to offer a package of website management and office tools suited to those with their own business. Find out more www.123-reg.co.uk/ipse/
3. Should you be using email marketing?
First ask if e-marketing is right for your business, as it’s not for everyone. If it is, set yourself objectives and tailor your emails towards them. Is your audience looking for advice, information, a deal? Whatever is relevant, stick with it and send out emails at regular intervals. Be as personable as is appropriate to your market. A personal connection goes a long way towards creating ‘brand me’ – one which sets you apart from the competition.
4. Are you missing out on the ‘blogosphere’?
You may think blogs aren’t for you, but they’re a great way to bring in the crowds. They offer an opportunity to interact personally with your audience and further develop your brand, and can be shared very effectively on social media.
Which topic are you passionate about? A top tip you’ve found helpful, a recent experience on a certain project, or perhaps you’ve discovered a shortcut to something? Let others know about it. If you’ve set up your own business and know your field, you have interesting things to say that others will want to hear.
5. Is your social media engaging?
Social media doesn’t have to be a labyrinthine task. First connect with everyone you already know – friends, family, clients. Next, connect with business groups, organisations and charities that operate in your sector. Finally, share unique and interesting content, links to your portfolio of work and, most importantly of all, engage. Let others know who you are and what you do. Don’t limit your engagement to sharing – comment and offer your opinion too. Add to ‘brand me’ by being personable and a thought leader in your industry.
Words by IPSE Marketing Manager, Elizabeth Stalberg. More top tips from the IPSE team appear in past issues of the Magazine, which can be found here.