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 arrival about 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 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.
As a freelance business owner, I know some folks who still cringe at the thought of putting any personal details ‘out there’. Or haven’t got the interest or skills in building a website. But, in my opinion, how else are you going to advertise your services or get business unless you are a presence on-line? There is also plenty of support out there if you need guidance.
A ‘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. So, 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, in recent months, I have seen many people entering the world of editing and proofreading who are asking all the questions I asked then. So this might help. What follows is what I did.
Build a website
By January 2017, my NEA (New Enterprise Allowance) Business Plan (with People Plus) had been approved, and I was told by my mentor to go away and build a website. The only domain name which was available and that I liked the sound of was Proofnow. So 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. Fair enough, 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 USP. I could add a couple of testimonials after getting some proofreading work.
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 I knew I had to find a different host. So, I did some fairly intense research to find my next website host. John Espirian (relentlessly helpful technical copywriting for B2B websites, LinkedIn nerd) gives good advice as well as offering discounts on his website. One such offer is with Siteground for hosting, amongst others, WordPress.
I copied everything over, probably using old-fashioned techniques, and not how a website designer would do it … But, after a couple of phone calls to Siteground customer service to solve the odd glitch – they were very supportive – 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.
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 can you (the freelance) 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. (A JE tip.)
- 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 two years, I am now happy with my website and proud of what I have achieved so far. It is easy to self-manage and looks 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. Anywhere.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, …? What kind of social media do you prefer? Where are you going to share your website? What kind of content marketer are you? I know some folks 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.
This year I have joined more Facebook support groups. Anything you need reassurance for, it’s there, whether you are a freelancer, editor, proofreader or tutor.
Here are some of the Facebook groups I enjoy which you could try:
- Editors Association of Earth (EAE)
- Louise Harnby Training for Editors and Proofreaders
- The Unofficial SfEP
- PerfectIt Users
- Freelance Heroes
- Winning Women (Essex)
- UK Private Tutors Chat
I was fortunate to attend a workshop on LinkedIn run by fellow SfEP-er John Espirian at the SfEP (Society for Editors and Proofreaders) annual conference 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. In fact, I’m going to see John talk on this very subject at the Cambridge Social Media Day (#CSMDay2019) just up the M11 from me, in November, when I will undoubtedly top up my social media skills.
He recommends liking and commenting on the posts of others to engage in conversation, rather than sharing (which is a Twitter algorithym). This raises the visibility of your profile. To some, LinkedIn is where important contacts can be followed, and serious 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! Here is my Twitter page.
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 those you subscribe to for tips and advice, it is imperative to be selective. Take control, and make your inbox manageable. Or it can become addictive or overwhelming. And you 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 for the long term. 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 #TallTartanTells blog post, I aim to do it on a day when I am at home 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 improve rapidly.
Others prefer to use scheduling tools (like Buffer and Hootsuite) so that the timings of content posting are automatic. The worry of manual posting is removed.
In my next blog post I will return to the subject of Primary tuition, and how it links to educational publishers as clients. You can read my introduction to this theme in my blog post here.