Summertime is finally here and while the sunny days and beach are calling, many creative professionals who are self-employed dread the summer season. Why? Well, while many of our friends who work their 9-5 are enjoying their vacations, those of us that are self-employed hear crickets chirping. But it doesn't have to be that way for you!
Below are some tips to help you have your most prosperous summer yet!
Update your website
When was the last time you updated your portfolio or services page? Chances are, you have some things to add! Ask a friend to help take a look at your website with a fresh set of eyes to see if it's 100% clear 1) what you do and 2) who you serve. If a client comes to your website and doesn't figure out those 2 things within 3 seconds, you will lose them. So make it really clear and try and look at your website from the perspective of a potential client. P.S., if you need help with this, shoot me an email and let's chat ;)
Your newsletter list is your most precious business tool, in that someone willingly subscribed to your newsletter in exchange for updates and special offers from you. If you aren't emailing them regularly already, plan out what type of content you can send to your list to make sure they remember you and offer them a special incentive to stick around. You don't have to be emailing them daily and don't be too spammy, but once a week or twice a month is the sweet spot. Don't worry about unsubscribes, it happens and they probably weren't your ideal client anyway. If you are thinking about launching a new product or service, the best way to check if that's what your clients want is simply to ask. So use the power of your list and ask what it is they are struggling with and work from there. What you might find easy to figure out might be what your client is struggling with. Boom, you have yourself a potential client.
Connect on social media
You don't have to be on every social media channel that exists but you do have to be somewhere. I myself am regularly on Instagram because it's visual which appeals to me as a Branding Designer (plus it's fun and my guilty pleasure is searching for memes and cute dog photos). Pick one channel that you enjoy being on and make sure you post consistently in line with your branding. What I mean by that is if you are a travel photographer and on Pinterest, don't have a public board full of cat videos. As much as I love my Instagram memes, I don't follow any meme accounts nor do I repost them on that account because it would just confuse my followers. Save the guilty pleasures for a private board or account. After you are comfortable with one channel and have grown your following there, try your hands at another one. You don't have to post the same thing across all platforms (and in fact you shouldn't!), so get a feel for which one is your favorite and which one your ideal client hangs out at. If you are on Snapchat more but not so much on Google+, then just write a short line on your Google+ profile on where to find you online.
Offer a special sale or giveaway
This is where your list of awesome newsletter subscribers comes in. Offer them a special bonus for giving you their email address and make sure to schedule at least 2 emails with the offer. Again, don't be spammy about it, this offer should either come as an incentive to sign up for your newsletter right off the bat (like sign up for the newsletter to get xx% coupon), or this should come after you've already shown up in their inbox a few times so they are familiar with you and your work. Giveaways are also a good way to get new subscribers, followers, and visitors to your website. You can use a third party service to collect their email addresses and send an email at the end to those that didn't win still offering them a discount. If you are using a social media channel to hose your giveaway, make sure to read the guidelines to make sure you aren't violating any terms.
Channel your inner extrovert
Although freelancing can be an introverted business, it really does require a part of our extroverted personality. This is where going out into the world and actually connecting with people comes in. If you are a brick & mortar shop, aka you have a physical shop, host an event at your location where people can come and sample your product or services, get a discounted service, or whatever other creative solution you come up. If you are an online business, this part can be trickier but look up what meetups and events are in your area. Get your business cards ready and whip out your networking skills but make sure to do it genuinely. What I mean by that is don't bombard them with an overview of all your services, but have a conversation about them and their business needs as it organically comes up. At the end, offer to take their business card and actually keep in touch (send them a follow up email the next day). They will likely appreciate the gesture and ask for yours in return. You can also do straight up cold calling/emailing/showing up to businesses but this takes more finesse and time. We have all gotten those generic "I can help you with your SEO" emails that end up in your spam folder, not to mention the paper that is wasted when we through out any Chinese menu or advertisement. Canvass your area and see who your ideal client is (hint: it's not everyone! Click here to get the freebie Branding Guide among other goodies to help you find out who your ideal client is). Once you have a specific list, stop by and engage in their services before offering yours and be prepared to drop off some business cards or give a special introductory offer.
Contact former clients, friends, relatives
Word of mouth is more powerful than you think! Let your friends, former clients and relatives know that you are open to booking clients and if they happen to need any of your services to contact you directly. You never know whose brother's neighbor's dogwalker's best friend might need some new headshots and you will have a foot in the door because they heard of you from a friend of a friend of a friend! Perhaps some of your previous clients need some web site updates or content upgrades. And since you already have a positive working relationship, they are more likely to hire you again. All you have to do is ask and send a simple email or two.
How are you getting your business through the summer? Comment below!