Much has happened since I first wrote (a year ago) about marketing my proofreading business, so this is the update … How I told the world I was open for business.
Building a website, social media and content marketing were the essential strategies I used, back in 2017, to proclaim my new services as a proofreader.
In a previous episode Business Plan and Training, I detailed how I became a freelancer offering proofreading services after three decades as a primary school teacher. In this tweaked blog post, I describe how I decided on my marketing strategy and how it has evolved.
I know some freelance business owners who still cringe at the thought of putting any details ‘out there’. Or haven’t got the interest or skills to build a website. But how else are you going to advertise your services or get business unless you are a presence online? There is also plenty of support out there if you need guidance or to outsource.
Displaying your ‘shop window’
“A website is essential: you need a ‘shop window’ to display your business.” These were the words of my Business Mentor at my local Job Centre when they helped me set up as a self-employed proofreader.
The process of choosing a website domain, a host, designing my website, plus researching the content marketing world of social media was a steep learning curve.
But I have come far over the last two years!
Also, I have seen many people, including career-changers, entering the world of editing and proofreading who are asking all the questions I asked then. So this blog post might help you. What follows is what I did to market my business.
Building a website
By January 2017, my New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) Business Plan (with People Plus) had been approved, and I was told by my mentor to go and build a website. The only domain name which was available and that I liked the sound of was Proofnow. That was the easy part. Proofnow Proofreader was born.
“How do I build a website?” My only experience had been editing my class page on the website of the school where I taught.
I chose my first website host. The building of each page was fairly straightforward: I added Services, Pricing and About pages, with a few photographs for variety; I emphasised my previous career as a teacher with efficient marking skills – this would be my Unique Selling Point (USP). I could add a couple of testimonials after getting some proofreading work.
Finding the website host for you
Although I was pleased with the look of the site on the desktop of the PC, it looked dreadful on my mobile. One tip I had read was that your website must be viewable on all devices.
At the end of my first year of business, I knew I had to find a different host as I found the backend clunky. I did some fairly intense research to find my next website host.
Creating a new website
I copied everything over to my new website … then I was up and active with my new host. What a relief!
Over time I read and researched more about how your website should be less about you and more about how you can solve problems for your potential client. This gave me the courage to tweak the theme and wording. Here are some tips I learnt.
Basic website tips
- easy to read, clear font
- your headshot and/or logo
- your services – what you can do for your client
- contact details – how does a new client get in touch with you?
- Say less of what ‘I’ can do but what ‘you’, the client, needs. How you (the freelancer) can solve their (client) problem.
- match the branding on your website with that on your social media sites where you will publish and market your website. In other words: same headshot, same banner, same headline/tagline for consistent marketing.
- Designing your brand is made easier by choosing prepared designs from a free app. Canva is a design programme for those who have basic technical skills. I found it really useful when ensuring consistency in designing the banners for marketing my website and social media profile pages. This represents ‘joined-up’ marketing.
Everything I tried with my website involved trial and error, with the undo button at hand. Also, with sheer surprise if something worked first time!
Now, having been with WordPress for a while, I am now happy with my website and proud of what I have achieved so far. It is easy to manage and looks consistently good on a desktop, tablet and smartphone. Statistics show that mobile devices are used more for browsing websites than any other. Indeed, smartphones mean that websites can be viewed immediately when a link is shared. So it is essential that your website works and looks good. Everywhere.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, …? What kind of social media do you prefer? Where do you share the link to your website? What kind of content marketer are you? I know some folk who steer well clear. They’re just not interested. I know some folks who do it ALL. Is that a good idea? Does it work? Does it GET you work?
The first thing I did on Facebook when I started my business was to advertise Proofnow Proofreader as a business Facebook page because I understood it.
I have joined Facebook support groups. Anything you need reassurance for, it’s there, whether you are a freelancer, editor, proofreader or tutor like me.
I attended a workshop on LinkedIn run by fellow SfEP-er John Espirian at the annual conference of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders in 2018: ‘How not to be a LinkedIn Loser’. I learnt A LOT. He gives results of methods he has tried to make the algorithm work for him, then passes on the tips. Then I saw John talk on LinkedIn at the Cambridge Social Media Day (#CSMDay2019) in November, when I topped up my LinkedIn skills.
He recommends liking and commenting on the posts of others to engage in conversation, rather than sharing. This raises the visibility of your profile. To some, LinkedIn is where important contacts can be followed, and business connections can be made. Work may even follow. This is my favourite way to post my blog posts where colleagues can engage. Here is my LinkedIn page. Judge for yourself. Why don’t you try personalising your invite to connect? Then I will understand how we can help each other.
LinkedIn is also beneficial as recommendations can be made. After doing a proofreading job on a punctuation book for children, I was able to send the author a link where she could write a testimonial. It’s impactful because the focus is on the client to write it for you.
On Twitter, retweeting (sharing) posts of those you follow, and your own posts improves engagement. I engage on Twitter because a lot of SfEP members are there. An educational author even got in touch and offered me a proofreading job!
Like, comment, share
Having read a HUGE array of tips about content marketing, everything I have learnt has been by osmosis, by watching how others do it. However, it IS an effort to stay on top of content on social media.
When following newsletters you subscribe to for tips and advice, it is imperative to be selective. Take control and make your inbox manageable. Or you’d never get any work done.
If you want to share content, planning is vital. Blogging, for instance, is far more effective if subjects are planned over the longterm. Then fit in spontaneous posts when giving a reaction to situations. I try to publish a blog post monthly – it’s scary how quickly those months go.
When I share a #TallTartanTalks blog post, I aim to do it on a day when I don’t have a work deadline and have the time to like and comment on the engagement. This is timetabled in my diary. As a result, when I engage, my website viewing statistics increase dramatically. That’s one of the reaons why blogging is effective: for website visibility.
Others prefer to use scheduling tools, like Buffer, so that the timings of content posting are automatic. The worry of manual posting is removed.
Next blogging …
In my next blog post I will return to the subject of primary tuition and educational publishers as clients.
You can read my introduction to my education series in Why I Tutor.