Being a contractor is like running your own small business. You’re completely reliant on yourself for finding the next source of contract work, and for selling yourself to prospective clients and recruiters. So, could you benefit from marketing your business better?
Here are some tips from the ITContracting team on how you can use a mixture of old and new methods to increase your visibility and attract new sources of work.
How to market your contracting business
1. Connect – Above all, keep in touch with colleagues, other contractors, and clients. With the ubiquity of social media sites, this has never been easier. It goes without saying that you should harness the power of LinkedIn to show off your skills and portfolio, and build up your network of connections.
2. Become an ‘Expert’ – A great way of letting people know what your skills are, and how you could benefit them, is by showing off your expertise. Use LinkedIn groups to answer questions, or pose questions. Offer to write articles for information sites, and contribute to industry bulletin boards.
3. Web Presence – These days, all professional contractors should have some form of web presence – either in the form or a traditional company/business website, or a blog. You can use your online presence like a portfolio, to host your CV, or provide guides/services of your own. Almost anything is possible with a shared hosting account, a domain name and WordPress for your site template.
4. Social Media – It’s hard to keep up with advances in the world of social media and cloud computing, but there are plenty of benefits to be had by setting up accounts with Twitter, Facebook (a separate account for your business) as well as LinkedIn. Google is increasingly using social signals in its ranking algorithm, so your own blog or website will benefit the more effort you put into building up your online social network.
5. SEO – Once the preserve of the few, search engine optimisation is now crucial for many web-based contractors. Utterly dominated by Google, you should take a series of measures to increase your website rankings in the major search engines. This includes building up a steady number or relevant, strong backlinks from other sites in your industry, and regularly updating your website with good quality content. Try the SEOMoz beginner’s guide to SEO as a starting point.
6. Branding – in all walks of life, people brand themselves – consciously or otherwise. Think of a good name for your company (or business if you’re a self-employed ‘freelancer’), and design a professional logo which will catch the attention of potential clients, but at the same time doesn’t overshadow the service you have to offer.
7. Email etiquette – if you’re applying for a contract role, or approaching a client directly via email, you need to keep your message as concise as professional as possible. We receive dozens of emails each day from small businesses offering services (mainly SEO, but plenty of more substantial ones too), and 99% go straight into the ‘trash’. The subject line, greeting, content, and signature all play a part in catching the eye of a possible client, so take care when designing the look and feel of your emails/documents, and tailor them carefully to the recipient.
8. Reviews – Ask clients and colleagues to provide testimonials to use on social media, or as references for recruiters/clients. Once again, LinkedIn is the perfect place to do this – you can pick and choose which recommendations to include in your personal profile.
9. Old School – With such massive advances in technology over the past few years, it’s easy to forget that people buy from people, and always will. Although it is easy to hide behind your laptop and communicate almost entirely via the web, you cannot beat traditional networking for making an impression, and informal meetings to find out what other contractors are up to.
10. Your Business – Finally, don’t forget that you are the business, and you need to market yourself to gain new contracts. You need to act as the sales, marketing and PR director of the business, as well as breadwinner!
If you have any useful tips for contractors, simply email us.