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notes from 13thirtyone: Building an Online Presence


Building an Online Presence

I'm asked often about how I find clients. I find that if the mindset changes from "me finding the clients" to "the clients easily finding me", it's more simple to think about where I should and shouldn't post my information on the net. Truthfully, I rarely spend money on newspaper advertising, magazine ads and direct mailings. I find that using the Internet is a very easy (and eco-friendly!) way to promote oneself. I thought I would run through quick list of the different things I've done while setting up my business to help people find me. Let me know if you have any questions!

Merchant Circle.com: This is an online community of businesses. Somewhat like LinkedIn, users can create profiles and communicate with other members and prospective clients. Another plus is that you get to create a little webpage. While it's nothing fancy, it's just one more Internet page that offers your information.

LinkedIn: I would highly suggest creating a profile on LinkedIn. I can't say that I've gained any clients from it directly, but it's basically an online resume. People can review your services, make recommendations and you can post discussion questions and answers. All of these things help you to gain credibility, while increasing your online exposure.

BizNik: This is another online community that works well, if you have the time to put into it. You can publish articles or small news bits about your business or service area, or ask general questions. Another nice feature is that members host actual meet-ups in certain areas of the country. You can even host one yourself! A great networking opportunity.

Posting in Forums: Posting is a great way to share your expertise. A while back, I would post on the discussion boards of HOW Magazine's Forums. I made sure to include my name, business name, web address and blog address in my posting signature. Even if people did/didn't agree with what I had to say, they're still likely to check out my site and my blog. This is actually how a writer from WorkHomeYou magazine found me for an interview along with a writer for FreelanceSwitch.com. While these aren't client inquiries, they increase my visibility to prospective customers.

Join a Directory: This is very iffy, so be sure to choose wisely. When I first created my business I signed up for a free directory listing on an online freelance graphic design website. To this day, it still hasn't sent any work my way. However, it's yet another link with my contact information on it.

Write Press Releases. Seems like it has nothing to do with the Internet, but it does! Many newspapers publish their articles online nowadays. That means, if your link or website is mentioned in the written piece, surely you'll receive a link online. That's a lot of readers that now have access to your site. Furthermore, take those same press releases that you submitted initially and publish them online at free sites. One I use is Free Press Release. This doesn't bring in clients directly, but it will give those that read about you online a sense of comfort. Press releases offer credibility.

Scribd.com: Take your press releases, and even blog posts, and save them in a pdf format. Then, upload them to your new profile on Scribd.com. Scribd is a site containing thousands of articles on any subject. From how-to manuals to instructions to articles, your information and expertise can now be easily accessed. Be sure to include working links in your pdf that directs the reader to your site. You'll be building your web traffic and gaining trust at the same time!

Join Networking Groups, Such As The Chamber of Commerce: There are lots of face-to-face networking groups to join. The way that this helps your online presence is that these groups often have directories online that list their members. Your contact information can be readily available to anyone surfing the net, not to mention, you'll be very conveniently placed in the forefront of other members' minds.

Make a Free Business Listing On Google
: I wouldn't recommend this option unless you have a mailing address and phone number that you're okay with people using. This works in such a way so that when people type in (for example) "hudson, wi + graphic design" my listing comes up. I have a link at the top of the page, my location displayed on a map and a link to my website. I can also include any other information I choose.

I hope you find some of these ideas helpful. Of course I have a few more tricks up my sleeve, but we'll save that for another post. :)

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