For small businesses and sole traders, you are the brand. So when it comes to promoting your company, you have to start by marketing you.
For hermits like me, this sounds hellish, but wait! It is great. You have the product with you at all times, you know it inside out, and you can promote it with little expense.
I am a self-employed business copywriter, so perhaps you expect to meet me at Federation of Small Business events, hobnobbing with the Chamber of Commerce, or commenting on entrepreneurial threads? Well, perhaps, but I don’t restrict myself to business or copywriting forums and meetings. I stick my little nose into a wide variety of areas, some copywriting, some related to what my clients do, sometimes just things that interest me. Where they are related to my core business (communication, grammar, Google, learning English, any sort of writing, etc.) I try to get more involved and post thoughtful and helpful contributions.
It means that the edges of my personal life get blended with my business life, which felt uncomfortable at first. Then I realised that I can’t sell me by only marketing the copywriter part, I am a full person and my interests in history, chickens, novels, baking, and so forth are all areas where I can engage with others.
How to raise your profile online
1. Get sociable.
Use social media. It’s free, it’s easy and it reaches across the world. Use LinkedIn for a professional image to clients and the chance to join up with other people in your field. Facebook seems to work particularly for B2C businesses, or where you have a large group of friends who will promote you. Google+ is my favourite, poised between LinkedIn’s seriousness and Facebook’s informality, plus it has loads of expertise to tap into. Twitter is great for quick connections (that may become longer term). If your business is visual, get onto Pinterest and so on.
Write regular posts about something of interest. They can be in your field of work, or one of your hobbies. If you have time – do both! Original content refreshes your website, and gives you something new to talk about and share. It is also a great way of demonstrating your skills – writing for me, coding for someone else, pictures of a kitchen fitting for yet someone else. Video blogging is increasing too – it’s worth giving it a go. Guest blogging is great – don’t be scared off by the warnings that Google is after that next. Google is not the Big Bad Wolf: It doesn’t want to penalise everyone who writes an article for a friend, or who hosts another author on their own site. It does want to kill off people who write thousands of low quality posts just to generate links to their own sites. Good for Google. Guest blogging is fine, just be careful who you do it for, and be careful from whom you accept it.
It’s great to get comments on your blog (hint!) So, if you want to receive them, you need to give them. Make thoughtful and stimulating comments on other blogs, on news sites, on social media posts. Keep the conversation flowing.
The benefits of spreading yourself around
So, you’ve got how to do it, but why should you bother? Well, here are 3 good reasons to start with.
1. You might meet tomorrow’s client.
One benefit of doing this, of blending a little of my personal life with my business life is that it raises my profile in areas outside the copywriting niche. Who knows if someone discussing chickens is also looking for a new website for their company? Someone who shares a sourdough recipe today might circle me on Google+ tomorrow and recommend me to a friend next week.
2. Your site benefits from natural links.
Another benefit is that it varies the types of backlink I get for my site. Google is very clear that too many backlinks saying “business copywriter” and pointing straight at me are going to raise their hackles of suspicion. Of course I want some keyword-rich links, but a variety of links, from a variety of (good quality) sites, will show that I am a serious contributor attempting to add to the quality of the internet. Google likes that.
3. You might not go mad with boredom.
Becoming respected in a number of fields not only enhances your expertise and reputation, it also broadens your CV and stops you from feeling stale. It may even lead you in a totally new career direction! Me and SEO – I had never even heard of it before I started this work and yet here I am, helping others get it right.
It is working for me. In 2012 I launched as a copywriter, looking to write sales newsletters, reports, fliers, and so forth. In fact, I have barely touched paper copy. Nearly all of my work is for business websites and I keep busy with a number of regular clients, plus I am now a partner in a website creation company and part of a pool of freelancers for a large copywriting firm.
So, don’t worry if you can’t afford slick advertising, don’t scrimp to get to every trade fair, or burn the candle at both ends with breakfast meetings and evening networking: just start socialising. Socialise with the aim of getting to know people and having them get to know you and stop stressing about earning site visitors. Organic and natural business will follow.
Joanna writes websites for businesses, helps them with their SEO, and sets them up with social media. Get in touch via this site, or on Google+ or any of the other links up in the side bar to find out what she can do for your business.