Friday, April 24, 2015

How to Network With Startup and Small-Scale Entrepreneurs

One of the niches in freelancing that has proven to be very lucrative is tapping into the needs of entrepreneurs whose businesses are still on the startup stage. There are also a host of small-scale enterprises that may benefit from the expertise of a savvy freelancer.

According to the magazine Entrepreneur (Philippine edition), among the total number of enterprises in the country, only an estimated four percent are comprised of huge corporations. The rest are made up of SMEs, or small and medium enterprises.

Subsequent reports have said that along with remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), these SMEs have been keeping the Philippine economy afloat.

But you need to be aware that startup and small-scale enterprises don't have the horrendously large budgets that well-known companies have. It's highly likely for them to rely on methods that are inexpensive, or cost-effective, to promote their products or services.

A common marketing strategy among small-scale enterprises is carving out their own niches. They intend to attract only a fraction of consumers or clientele.

And yet, this doesn't mean that small-scale entrepreneurs don't need the services of a freelancer to help them generate more income. This only means that you have to align your skills and services with the needs of these entrepreneurs.

To help you get started, here are several suggestions:

  • Keep tab of a couple of trade magazines and look for announcements of conventions for entrepreneurs. Different types of conventions aim to cater to a wide range of industries. There are wedding and bridal conventions, as well as photography, baking, cooking, crafts, and scrapbooking. These are the first venues to keep in mind if you want to meet potential clients. Bring several business cards.
  • Do some research and find out if there are seminars held around your community where trainers aim to teach livelihood skills. Become more familiar with the seminar organizers' advocacy by immersing yourself in their activities.
  • If you have an area of expertise, get in touch with the organizers and express your desire to train or teach participants. I personally know a young, male professional who is passionate about making beaded accessories. This led him to a stint as a mentor, where he taught women beadmaking in order to help their husbands augment the household income.
  • After each seminar, politely approach anyone in charge and ask for his contact information.
  • "Web stalk" your potential clients. Check and see if they post updates or announcements on their Facebook Page, or if they have a website or blog.
  • Based on what you've seen in the seminars and online, come up with a proposal for a marketing strategy. Make it as cost-effective as possible, and realize that each enterprise have different marketing needs.
  • Email a letter of introduction (LOI) to the contact person, briefly explaining who you are and your qualifications as a freelancer.
  • Don't immediately talk about your freelancer's rates. Your proposal must entice your potential clients and win them over to your point of view.
  • Provide your contact information, and the time when you can be reached.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Can You Help the Average Joe (or Juan*) With His Startup Enterprise?

During the past decade or so, more and more people are facing the reality that the workforce has gotten unstable and less and less secure for a majority of employees. Aside from having an adequate educational background and years of experience, one must be savvy enough to acquire as many transferable skills as possible to keep up with the pace of an ever-changing workplace.

This is one of the reasons more and more people are opting out from a corporate job and are setting their sights on putting up a business. And as a freelancing professional, how can this phenomenon be a lucrative source of income for you?

Well, for starters, entrepreneurs need a solid marketing plan. Since the success of a product or service depends only on its sales or the number of people availing the service, your clients will be keen on getting noticed, or getting their merchandise or services exposed to their target market.

To illustrate, graphic artists or designers that specialize on creating invitations for baby showers or children's birthday parties are more likely to turn to social media sites like Pinterest  or Instagram to showcase their designs.

Also, marketing through Facebook has been one of the least expensive yet most effective ways to inform potential customers about a company's products.

And yet, online users don't just "stumble upon" a Facebook Page that was meant for promoting products and services. You can help entrepreneurs come up with several feasible strategies by assessing the business' strengths, how they can communicate their mission to potential customers, the gaps they aim to fill among the market, and how to keep engaging their customers by publishing fresh content and updating their Facebook Page regularly.

Putting up a website and blogging are the other excellent ways to make sure that the market is informed on the latest about upcoming products. If you have the skills and experience in writing blog posts that generate a lot of traffic, you can meet the needs of plenty of entrepreneurs who are aspiring to make it big over the long term.

And working on a website's design and landing page takes a great deal of planning, too. A landing page that yields results must be compelling enough so your visitors would want to know more about your business, what makes you tick, and your edge over the competition.

All of these may have left you wondering, "Where can I find these startup entrepreneurs that need my expertise?" I'll discuss this further in my next articles.

(*Juan is the Filipino equivalent for Joe.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Creating Additional Streams of Income

While being a freelancing professional offers plenty of perks, you may find it beneficial to look for other ways to earn, or create additional income streams.

You may have realized that having a sideline or two helps in establishing a regular cash flow faster. Dry spells are a reality in the life of a freelancer who's just starting out. The money that you earn from your sidelines will cushion the blows of dry spells and will prevent you from doubting yourself.

As an unexpected bonus, you get to hone another set of skills, or discover new ones you may have never dreamt you possessed.

I held other jobs and worked on a variety of tasks aside from freelance writing. I once had a friend who hired me to format while proofreading political speeches using Microsoft Word, and I charged a rate that was fairly competitive in spite of me being a newbie during that time.

I was also sought by a couple of job applicants who needed an editor to tweak their resumes. I have ghostwritten first-person articles and essays and helped corporate professionals with business correspondence.

In 2007 I got into the business of designing greeting cards and selling them for a profit. I did this during the holidays, when demand for Christmas cards is at its peak.

And all these tasks and new responsibilities didn't distract me from writing. Because I was getting paid for being more productive, I was able to build my cash stash, and this afforded me more time to write.

And having more time to write led me to start this blog in November 2012. By maintaining a blog, I trained myself to write content of the highest possible quality and incorporate SEO techniques.