This year I experienced a life changing moment, the moment when I decided that I was tired of punching a time clock and working for someone else. That moment when I decided that I wanted to be in business for myself and have more flexibility to be a mom and a wife. I decided to for the first time in my life do something for myself and so my journey began in January when I started my virtual business.
Starting a virtual business was not as easy as I thought it would be but because there is so much information and training on the internet to help guide you it was really just a matter of figuring out what skills I possessed that I could use for my business and which tools were a right fit for me. I watched all the webinars and read all kinds of articles and followed all the breadcrumbs. I started my virtual business, have my website up and running; I am on all the social media sites for networking; I have all the tools to succeed and I am ready for business. There is just one problem though, NO CLIENTS! Having the website, having a profile on social media sites and all the available tools setup and ready to use are just not enough. You have to market your business in order for it to grow. Marketing your business is as important as the air that you breathe.
If you are like me, the thought of marketing makes me cringe mainly because (1) I don’t have a lot of money to invest in marketing my business, and (2) I didn’t know where to begin my expertise is not in marketing. First and foremost your mindset has almost everything to do with how you succeed so both of these thoughts could have caused me to give up, be defeated and ultimately fail. Fact is that there are marketing strategies online that don’t cost anything just your time. There are tons of people doing what you do so you have to stand out which is why marketing yourself or your business is so important.
I have learned a few tricks on marketing that I thought I would share and guess what, I didn’t have to pay a dime, just my time and commitment.
Using Social Media
First off, make sure you profile page is on point meaning it reflects the professional image that you want to portray. Remember, your online presence is a reflection of you and your business. It is as much a part of your professional image as the clothes you wear.
However, It’s not enough to just have a professional social media profile, you have to engage with the people that you connect with to engage with current clients and colleges and to gain new clients. Social media is a great networking tool. The key is to stand out from the competition and become everyone’s “go to” person. The people that I connect with are what I call my potential clients. I don’t know half of the people I connect with but I know for sure that they are people that I could help with the services that I offer. With that, I read their posts, see their concerns or problems, and I offer solutions to their problems for “free.”
I know you are probably thinking you don’t want to offer anything for “free” but think of it this way, anything they need they can find on the internet so whether you help them or not they will more than likely get the information for “free” anyway. Use what you know to offer a solution that a potential client could use and apply themselves. Give those potential clients the missing pieces to their puzzle to complete that task that they are having such a hard time with. Once you have a rapport with your connections you will be the “go to” person because you have all the answers. At that point, you can turn those potential clients into paying clients because you have gained their trust.
When I first started this business I had never blogged before. I watched all the tutorials and read as many articles as I could about blogging and after all that I just did not see the point in blogging. Part of gaining the trust of potential clients and being the “go to” person can be established by blogging. I now use my blog to do just that: I give information to my potential clients. Blogging for a business is different from just maintaining a personal blog.
Blogging for a business is indirectly giving potential clients helpful information or resources that they can use anytime they need it. In fact, they can share it with other people which builds your reach to other potential clients. For instance, I saw that some of my potential clients were having issues with wanting to know the importance of using blogging to market their business. So, I posted a blog “To Blog or Not to Blog – That is the Question?” In that blog I addressed the issues of not wanting to blog and why you should blog to market your business. Blogging keeps your potential clients informed, it provides consistent useful content and helps ensure your potential clients or current clients will choose your services over the competition.
Start an Email Marketing Campaign
Email marketing by far was the hardest thing for me but once I got past the initial trials and error, it is has been one of the least expensive marketing tools to I use. There are platforms you can use like Aweber and Mailchimp that offer free versions and have tutorials on using the tools and software to build your email campaign.
Email marketing is when a company sends a commercial message to a group of people by use of electronic email through advertisements, requests for business, or sales that helps to build customer loyalty, trust in a product or company or brand recognition. It is an efficient way to stay connected with your clients while also promoting your business.
Building a successful email campaign takes planning and effort. You will have to build an email list. One way you can do this is by offering something in return for their email address. An issue I had was what can I offer for free? The answer is create something using software like Canva that you can download in PDF such as tips or ways to do something that would appeal to your target market and then give this information away for free in exchange for their email address.
Manage your expectations with follow up. If you promise them a free training series, information or ebook then make sure that after they give you their email address that they receive the information that you promised.
The actual email itself is very important. What makes an effective email is the subject line, the body of the text, a call to action and your signature. Your subject should be direct and clear. In the body of the text try to avoid long paragraphs, use shorter sentences, bold, underline and highlight important words. If you are like me I wasn’t sure what a call to action was. Well call to action is letting the person reading the email know what to do next. If you are giving them an ebook then the call of action would be click the link to download the ebook. Last but not least, your signature line should include your name and contact information so that the potential client can get in touch with you.
Marketing yourself and your business is important to make money in any business not just a virtual business. There are so many ways to market your business but I know for sure that using social media, blogging and email marketing are cheap and fairly easy ways to start.