In every business, you have to think about promoting your business; but in a small business, you have to be extra smart about it. We all know that in small businesses that money has to be used carefully, and in web development businesses, we need to really make sure our marketing is successful. When you are doing freelance, you must keep a consistent flow of clients coming in to keep your business going. I cannot speak for all web developers, but I can speak for myself when I say that when I first started doing freelance, I was not too educated in the world of marketing, and I was unaware of all the way you can advertise for very cheap and even free! The more places you get your name out there, the more chance you have to increase your client base. Here are some tips that I have found useful, on where to advertise, how to advertise wisely, and ultimately, how to advertise successfully to increase your client base. Please feel free to add your tips, or leave a comment! Enjoy!
Social Networking Sites
Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are great ways to get your name out there and be known as a web developer and to promote your work. These sites are fantastic ways to advertise your web development business and put links to your portfolio. Especially if you are new to a community, new to web development, or are not good at meeting people in person, social networking sites allow you to link to other people in your profession, which can help you get more well-known in the field. Moreover, these sites can help potential clients have access to you and your work. For example, with Facebook, if you make a group or fan site for your web development business and your friends add themselves to that group or fan site, then every single friend of every single one of your friends will see the name if your company. That is amazing exposure to potential clients, and even better, it is free! Some social networking sites also offer advertising at a reasonable price, and with the popularity of these sites among all generations and social groups, it is something to consider as well for great marketing exposure.
Free Advertising Sites
Another great way to advertise on a budget is to use the free advertising sites out there, such as CraigsList, USFreeads, AdLeaf, and InetGiant. These sites offer free advertising to businesses, where you can advertise locally, nationally, or even globally. CraigsList, for example, allows you to advertise your web services, or even browse listings for people looking for freelance web developers in your area. Why not make use of these free advertising sites to widen the potential client base. Like I previously mentioned, successful advertising is essential in a successful business, but also price conscience advertising is important. So, take advantage of every free avenue available to you to increase the coverage to your business.
Now this tip is obvious; you need business cards with your logo, business name, and contact information; however, I suggest taking it one step further and making this business card a true representation of your artistic ability and originality. I suggest spending a little extra money and time designing your business card, because it is a marketing opportunity that stays with a person and can really impress potential clients. Every business uses business cards as a way to network and advertise, but with web developers, I recommend using creative business cards so that prospective clients can immediately get a taste of your potential.
With marketing, it is better to diversify, in order to contact as many different prospective clients as possible. The only time I suggest concentrating on one avenue for marketing, is when your business is aimed at a particular client base or target audience. However, with most web development businesses, our clients can range from engineers, to musicians, to restaurants, to doctors, and even to car dealerships. Therefore, I suggest trying to advertise in as many avenues as possible, but remember to be smart about prices, location, and the reach. What I mean by reach is try to reach as many clients as you can with any given advertisement. If you are a web development business, you may want to advertise in newspapers, magazines, billboards, and even your car! I have seen people who use personalized license plates with the web development business’ name, and I thought it was a very clever idea. Also, I have had pens, t-shirts, hats, and notepads made with my logo and business information, which is a great way to get your name out there. And let’s face it, everyone loves a free stuff! So, as you can see, try to get your name in as many places as possible, and that will greater the possible for clients!
Always remember to put a link to your portfolio or business website in the footer of your web work. I have seen so many great examples of web work that does not have links to the web designer or developer. This is a great way to advertise your business, to promote your work, as well as get credit for your work. If a prospective client visits a site and likes the design or development, immediately they will want to know whose work it is. Moreover, most web developers who see a web page that they find inspirational, will immediately look at the credits to see whose work it is. If the web developer is impressed, they may ask you to associate with them in a future project. So, make sure you remember to put a link to your business’ page, because this is another free advertising method.
Spend Money to Make Money
There are many free means to market your business, and you should definitely take advantage of those; however, with marketing and advertising, sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Great times to spend your money in marketing are when: you first are launching your business, you are changing your image, or if you are having a lull in clients. When you are doing well and business is consistently coming in, you may be happy with just using free advertising, word of mouth, or any of the other advertising methods. However, if you are having trouble getting clients, this is when you may have to dish out a few bucks, in order to make something in return.
In order to promote your business and show your ability, post some of your work and even your portfolio are some CSS galleries. Most people who surf through CSS galleries are web designers and developers, but this is actually a great way to promote your business. I have received quite a few clients through this method, because other developers have seen my work and wanted to associate with me, or they have given my name as a recommendation to clients who have contacted them, when they are unable to take the project. So, post your best work in CSS galleries, and it may be a great marketing promotion.
Consider writing a blog in order to promote your web development business. Writing a blog helps to get your name out there, shows the world you know what you are talking about, and gives people another avenue to reach your work. A great suggestion, even though I have not yet done so myself, is to link your blog and portfolio together. This will give increased access to your business, and hopefully increase your clientele.
Word of Mouth/Referrals
In “10 Tips to Improve Interaction with Clients,” I wrote about how important it is to keep your clients happy, so they continue to come back and more importantly, recommend you in the future to friends, families, and other businesses. Referrals and worth of mouth are two great ways to promote your business. First, you can do it yourself. Do not be afraid to boast about your work, or suggest your work when someone asks about a website. Many times I have been in a mall, and I have heard a group of people talking about needing a website, and I will excuse myself and offer my services, give them a business card, and tell them to contact me if they are interested. Second, have your clients do the work for you. As I mentioned in“10 Tips to Improve Interaction with Clients,” if you leave your clients satisfied, you will increase the chances of having them return to you on future projects and recommend you to others. So, just remember that word of mouth is a great way to promote yourself! Good Luck with your business!