Jess left a comment on my Where to Find Freelance Work post stating she was starting an online business and wanted to focus her attention locally. Depending on your location, you may find this is a largely untapped market regardless of your niche. Here are a few tips to help your local business get found.
Jess is looking for writing clients, so we are going to brainstorm in this post from that perspective. However, these methods can be applied to any industry with a little modification.
First Up – Identify those businesses that may need your services. We are talking about writing here, and that can vary greatly from business to business. Not every business needs a blog. Instead, they may need someone to write their newsletters or flyers. Maybe they need someone to revamp the sales copy on their website. Keep an eye on your local businesses. Who is doing what? Who is falling behind? Who could be connecting better with their customers?
How to Connect with Local Businesses
Business Cards are your first order of business. This is something we often overlook as online businesses, but they are key in going local. Your potential client can’t bookmark your URL while you are chatting in the grocery checkout line. You can get 250 Business Cards for $10 at Vistaprint. Don’t be stingy with these. Business owners love handing out their fancy cards. Exchange cards, then follow-up by email within the next few days. Maybe you found an article that could be of interest. Perhaps you know of an upcoming networking event. Pass those along in your follow-up.
Be a Local Consumer to get local clients. Many small business owners like to build rapport with their regular customers. You are their client after all. If you are shopping local you have a far better opportunity to get to know these business owners and their needs. These are needs that you can later meet.
Networking Events are the perfect opportunity to spot potential freelance clients. Even if you don’t care to join your local Chamber of Commerce, they likely allow potential members to sit in on one meeting prior to committing. Go to the next meeting and exchange those business cards. Seek out other business networking events. There are women business owner luncheons and breakfasts held monthly across the U.S. Find one close to you through Meetup or local business publications.
Get Friendly with Other Freelancers to find clients. As a writer, you may find it beneficial to make friends with local website designers. Not every business needs a blog, but maybe you are great at writing copy. That designer may be able to pass along referrals or utilize your services themselves. The same goes for other service providers. They can be great referral sources, and so can you. This is a win-win for both parties.
Social Media Today had a great tip about seeking out clients through the Yellow Pages recently – use it to find those that can afford your services. How? If they can afford to invest in a fancy ad in the phone book, they can likely afford your services as well. Just as not every business needs a blog, not every business can afford a service provider. Start at the top and work your way down.
Get listed in local directories. These listings often receive high search placement, and many consumers head straight to these directories when looking for service providers. The quickest way to ensure you are listed at the most popular sites is to use Yahoo! Marketing Dashboard. This is a free service that can greatly increase your small business’ reach and marketing efforts.
Hold a Workshop teaching business owners writing tips. Maybe your slant here will be writing web content, or another idea that comes to mind is sales copy. Both of these come with a learning curve. A learning curve you have mastered. Hold a free or low-cost session at your local SCORE office, library, networking event offering up some tricks of the trade. You will be positioning yourself as an expert in your field and your area. You are not giving away the farm here. Many times showing others what they need to know is enough to make them throw in the towel.
Whew! What a brainstorming session. Those are a few of my ideas for finding new clients on a local level. What would you add?