Setting up on your own – the 5 steps you need to take

If you are a regular reader, you will know that back in August last year (2015) I took the decision to go it alone and setup shop by myself. Since then a number of friends have taken the plunge and gone freelance as well and I have found myself giving each of them the same advice about what they should do with their digital footprint.

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  1. Set up a website: When you first start out most referrals are going to come from your networks, very few (if any) are going to search for the service you provide and get in touch. So it is not that surprising that many people skip this stage. However, you shouldn’t. Your contacts know you and what you can do, but others won’t. By having a hub website your contacts have something they can share to others, and these people will be able to see for themselves. Also, by having a website you get to control the messaging. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy or something you update a lot (we will comeback to this shortly,) and there are loads of free or inexpensive tools out there to do this, for example https://flavors.me/services and http://nationbuilder.com/business.
  2. Set up a ‘work’ email address: While I am a big fan of Gmail it doesn’t look that professional. Just think who you would trust more with a project? Someone who emailed you from zanydud1999@yahoo.co.uk or me@realworldpictures.co.uk? While you are sorting out your email address, also set up a proper email signature which has your name, contact details and strapline in there.
  3. Work out what you are going to do with your social media platforms. If you have been a humble employee up until now there is a good chance that your social media profiles have been very much for you and your friends to make plans, share pics and for you to talk about your values. When you head out on your own this needs to change. I am not suggesting that you become a dry automaton on social media as social media only works for you when it is true to your personality, but it is worth thinking more about what you are sharing, where you are sharing it, and what potential clients will think about it. Trying to segment audiences on social media is hard, but as a rule of thumb I would start with thinking of Linkedin as your ‘company’ profile, Twitter as where you share your thoughts on what you do, and bring in your personality, and lock down your privacy settings on Facebook….
  4. Get the basics right on your ‘company’ social media profiles.  When you have worked out what you are doing with them and you have worked out which ones are going to be your ‘company’ ones, then you need to make them support that activity. Make sure the profile picture fits with what you want potential clients to think about you. Does the bio reflect what you actually do now? Have you populated all the information and set up links back to your website? As well as doing this make sure things are consistent. Saying different things in different places is going to confuse things.
  5. And finally start sharing and creating relevant content.  So, you have your website and email sorted. Your social media profiles are all sorted. Now you need to start saying things which people will find interesting and relevant to what you do. This doesn’t mean you need to start blogging or writing deep and meaningful research. You can and this will help you, but finding what others in your sector are saying and sharing it with a comment (approving or otherwise) will help position you as an expert who should be listened to. Also getting suck into debate online in Linkedin groups and Twitter for example, will help enhance your standing.

Taking the luck out of things

To help improve your digital activities I offer a no obligation face to face 'coffee and consultation' in London and a Skype version for people outside of London - you will need to provide your own coffee. Interested? Then start your journey now.

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