You’re one in a million. A million new business owners vying for their fair share of the American dream, that is. Each year, nearly countless entrepreneurs start new businesses. Most fail, despite offering a viable product or service. For these businesses, it often comes down to poor marketing. So, if you’re one of the 51% of Americans who believe owning your own business will give you the upper hand, read on for a few marketing tips to get you started on the right foot.

Start with free platforms.

You don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get your name out there. In fact, since most people utilize the power of the web when seeking a product or service, your best bet is to start by claiming your free business listings. Google My Business, Yelp, YP.com, and similar sites are powerful pieces of technology you can use today to show people that you’re open for business. Make sure your name, hours, and business description match across all sites. This makes it easier for search engines to collect your information and strengthens your presence in the search engine results pages (SERPS).

Get social.

Your social media accounts are the face of your business. They are one of the most efficient avenues by which to communicate with your customers. You can use Facebook to schedule special events, share your daily menu, or simply let your customers know you appreciate them. Maintaining ongoing communications shows that you care and that you will be responsive in both good and bad times. Another big benefit of social media is that online interactions impact search results, so the more profiles you keep up with the better. YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are major players in the world of social media marketing. And, they are free to use, although premium services may require a nominal fee.

Leverage online reviews.

93% of consumers claim to check reviews before trying out a new restaurant or shop. If you’re customers happy, there is no reason you shouldn’t use their kind words to your advantage. Online reviews are insanely powerful with nearly 90% of online shoppers saying they trust reviews as much as they do a face-to-face recommendation. Today’s mobile technology makes it easier than ever to collect and highlight positive customer experiences for the benefit of potential patrons. Companies such as The Review Solution have made it easy to capture and distribute reviews through minimally invasive, friendly text message systems.

Soup up your site.

It is not enough to simply maintain a social media presence, you must also make sure your website is up-to-date to remain relevant in today’s web-based society. Refining your website is one of the most important things you can do. Your site is a crucial part of creating brand awareness and sales opportunities. Make sure your website is easy to navigate, offers straightforward solutions to customers’ most pressing issues, and answers common questions. Optimize your site for mobile browsing to make it easier for customers to contact you directly through your online profile. If you operate from a brick and mortar location, your mobile site will also serve as a one-click navigation tool.

Get cozy with content.

Content matters. But, the content you generate and share should provide valuable information and avoid hyped up sales pitches. In other words, your content should be focused on the end-user rather than your product or service. This helps establish a rapport with your customer and lets them know that you have their best interest in mind. Content should spike curiosity and encourage the user to take action. Update your website often to maintain relevancy for both your customers and the web crawlers. Vary your content to appeal to a broad demographic. Blog posts, corporate biographies, press releases, infographics, and informational articles should be consistent across all platforms.

Don’t get your startup off on the wrong foot by failing to engage in the right marketing tactics. There are certainly plenty of options to consider, but in the end, you’ll need to consider your audience figure out the best way to reach them.

Image: Pixabay

Running every aspect of their business and accepting every project or client that comes their way is something many self-employed folks find themselves doing toward the beginning of their careers. While many entrepreneurs learn the perks of not handling some aspects of their businesses on their own — like hiring a CPA or using software to take care of taxes, employing an assistant for clerical duties, or contracting a web designer or utilizing a website builder to maintain their business’s online presence — a lot of self-starters have trouble deciding what work opportunities are worth pursuing, and what they should walk away from.

Some people worry that turning away projects makes them seem lazy or rude, while others fear that they might not have a better client to replace the one they just rejected. While it’s true that saying no to someone may temporarily hurt your business, doing so may strengthen it over time. Establishing a niche lets you utilize your skills and offer goods or services that you’re comfortable with, which benefits both you and your customers. Here’s how to figure out which niche is right for you.

Explore Your Interests

Ideally, your niche should be something that interests you. Nearly 40% of self-employed workers are completely satisfied with their careers, and you have a chance to become one of them. Don’t choose a niche you hate just because you think other people will love it. Customers will eventually notice your lack of passion, and it’ll be difficult for you to motivate yourself to run your business. 

If you’re not sure what interests you, ask yourself the following questions:

  • If I could be doing anything right now, what would I be doing?
  • What did I enjoy doing as a child or teen?
  • How do I usually spend my free time?
  • When I shop, which section of the store appeals to me the most?
  • Aside from self-employment, if I could have any job in the world, what would I choose?  

Write down your answers so you can review them. Do you notice a theme in your responses? For example, you may say you enjoy reading about flowers, and you may notice that you’re often drawn to the gardening section of a store. 

If you think you have no profitable interests, don’t give up hope just yet. You can turn parenting, traveling, or other everyday activities into a profitable venture if you post about them online. Nearly 19 million women run their own blogs, and the top 10% of them rake in at least $100,000 per year. They also score freebies in the form of food, household items, and vacations.

Identify Your Strengths

Even though you love something, you might not be good at it. If you have a blast whipping up sweet treats with your kids but burn nearly every batch of cookies and brownies that you make, opening a bakery might not be a good goal for you. On the other hand, if your neighbors rave about your gooey butter cake and your relatives beg you for your secret fudge recipe, opening a bakery might be perfect for you.

You also have the option to hire someone to help you with your business. If you think your community needs a shop that sells hand-stitched socks but you hate sewing, you may be able to describe your patterns to a talented designer. If you want to sell logo tees, there are shops online that let you upload funny phrases or images rather than creating the shirts by hand. You can also take college courses or workshops to strengthen your skills prior to launching your business. 

Understand Your Target Market

After you’ve figured out what you want to do, you need to determine whether your target market cares. If they don’t, you have to ask yourself whether it’s possible for you to convince people that they want what you’re selling. You can do this by posting online ads, creating YouTube videos, and participating in interviews about your company.

Not sure who falls into your target market? Start by determining whether you plan to offer goods or services. If you’re offering services, you can potentially target people around the world. The same goes for some types of goods, but keep in mind you may incur shipping costs and other fees. If you plan to run a home daycare or sell made-from-scratch treats, you probably want to focus on a local audience.

Decide whether you think men, women, or children will want what you plan to offer. Are these people middle-class, or do they live a life of luxury? If you still need help figuring out who to target, ask fellow entrepreneurs for help, or see what your loved ones think.

It can be tempting to do it all when you’re self-employed, but that doesn’t benefit you or your customers. Focus on a clearly defined niche so that you can deliver high-quality goods or services to your target market.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Freelancing has exploded in popularity in recent years, and now the gig economy is the primary source of income for around 11 percent of full-time US workers. The opportunities are there — corporations are increasingly looking for contractors to help them plug short-term skill gaps and pull in fresh ideas, while advances in technology allow freelancers to work from home more easily. But the gig economy is certainly not an easy way to make a living, and not everyone makes it. The ones that do tend to possess a few key characteristics — read on to find out what they are.

They Are Tenacious and Persistent

Tenacity and persistence are not the same thing, and you’ll need both in the gig economy. You’ll need persistence to send out those pitch emails day after day, despite constant rejections — although of course, avoid being pushy. Rejection and setback comes with the territory, and unless you’re a big name in your field, you’ll be reaching out a lot for new clients. But you’ll also need the tenacity to adapt your approach, try different sales and marketing methods, or even to move into new markets when you think it’s appropriate.

They Embrace Change

Change is part of the game as a freelancer. The landscape evolves rapidly thanks to trends and advances in technology. Today many freelancers get 100 percent of their clients online, but this wasn’t the case just a few years back. For example, many freelancers find work through online jobs boards including Upwork. However, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. Maybe in a couple of years social media will be the best way to find clients. You’ll need to be aware of current trends in digital marketing as well as the best practices within your own industry and be ready to adapt to the changing landscape. 

They Take the Right Risks

As Mobile Worker points out, the gig economy comes with certain risks — you don’t get a stable income, pensions or other benefits, and your work-life balance could be challenging. Successful freelancers are good at calculating risk — what they will potentially gain and lose by each decision. They also have mentors who can guide them in their decisions and they consciously try to learn from the decisions they have made in the past.

They Create a Personal Holding Environment

While the corporate environment may not be preferable to everyone, it does still have its advantages — a consistent routine, comfortable working spaces and social support. A study published in the journal Administrative Science Quarterly found that freelancers in the gig economy create a “personal holding environment,” which is a way of recreating these benefits in solo work. For example, they identify the physical conditions in which they work best — whether that’s a quiet room at home, a shared workspace, or a cafe. They also create a support group of people in the same line of work who they go to for advice, or just to sound off. Additionally, they stick to a consistent and regular work routine as much as possible.

While freelancers lose the comfortable safety net of a steady wage, but you’ll open yourself up to greater variety of work, more freedom and better pay. But you have to manage your own learning, both personally and professionally. Keep improving your professional skills, take steps to develop in the above four areas, and you’ll have a great chance of success.

Photo: Pixabay