“I started a design business, not a marketing business!”
“If you have your own business, you are in the business of marketing.”
Neil Patel (Quicksprout) tells the sad story of Roger. Roger had great aspirations for his design career straight out of college, but failed when he started his own business because he forgot about the whole marketing thing.
I don’t think a lot of people realize how time consuming marketing is when they decide to go it alone. You think to yourself- hey, I can handle this. After all, it’s my skills that are going to make me money. And that might be true… eventually. But your audience has to know you exist, and what’s more- they have to like you.
That’s why I think marketing works best on a personal level. Don’t have a lot of money to spend on print ads, web ads and other promotions? There’s an easier way. Start conversations with people. Networking is the best thing you can do that doesn’t cost any money- and I think it’s the most profitable over time. You never know who can point you in the right direction. We do it ourselves- when we come across a project that isn’t a good fit for us, we’ll recommend someone we think is. Those kinds of personal relationships have, in turn, brought us some really cool projects- and recurring business.
We’re not experts on social networking, but in the age of Twitter, you have no excuse not to reach out. Start talking. Even if your forte is programming or design (read: not marketing!), you can still let your voice be heard. What’s even better is that people will see you for who you are. Personal touches don’t get more genuine than that.