After finally achieving the dream of becoming your own boss, you’ll need to know how to market yourself as a contractor. No matter how good you are at your job, if clients can’t find you, then you’re unlikely to enjoy the level of success you’ve been dreaming of. As a contractor, marketing yourself can be challenging, especially because you have limited time and resources and are often competing with bigger businesses.
However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to come up with a great marketing plan that will allow you to stand out, get your name out there or attract new business. On the contrary, promoting your contracting business in 2019 may be easier than you think, especially with the following top tips that we, as contractor accountants, have compiled to help you.
Have an Online Presence
Having an online presence is no longer optional in 2019. With 4.39 billion people using the Internet just this year, you’d be missing out on a big slice of your audience. A website is the face of your business and the place where you advertise your services – your digital business card. You can use this online presence to showcase your contractor services and to offer potential clients a portfolio of your work, which will help them to decide you’re the right person for their project.
Ensure that your website is user-friendly and always up to date; of course, don’t forget to get the SSL certificate, which signals to Google that your website is secure, given that the search engine is now penalising sites without it. The ways people are using the Internet are also changing all the time, with mobile now accounting for a growing share of activities. For this reason, make sure your website is mobile-friendly and responsive too.
Social media is, likewise, a crucial element to promoting your business. At the start of 2019, there were already 3.48 billion active social media users around the world, so it’s easy to see the benefits of tapping into this source. Set up different social media accounts for your business instead of using your personal accounts and choose the platforms that best work with your target audience. You can use your social profiles to communicate with current and potential clients, promote your services, develop a powerful brand, announce important news, and so much more.
LinkedIn is not only a useful platform when you’re trying to get your name out there or grow your business, but it’s also crucial for contractors. Harness its power to find new jobs, showcase your skills and contracts you’ve done, and interact with other professionals and potential clients. You can also write relevant, industry-specific articles that will help you to further display your knowledge and skills, casting you as an authority. Don’t forget, it’s nearly impossible to get overnight results so, to boost your work prospects, make sure you’re active on your chosen social media channels, build up your following and engage with people on a regular basis.
We’ve written an article on how contractors can make the most out of social media, which can help you to develop the strategy that will best work for you.
Find Your Unique Selling Point
What makes you different from your competitors? What can you bring to the table? Spend some time thinking about your strengths and use them to promote your business. If you have a unique set of skills or knowledge, you can also promote yourself as an expert in your field and become the go-to authority for a specific service. Your unique selling point, or USP, will be different from other contractors’ and can include factors such as being more cost-effective, having a faster turnaround, offering something new and being the only service of its kind.
Your USP is likely to change as your business changes as well, so keep reviewing it regularly to see if it still matches your customers’ needs and requirements. Check up on the competition too – you want to remain unique so, if you find that your competitors are providing the same services as you, your USP may need to be revised.
But how can you come up with a good USP in the first place? Start by creating a list of all the contracts you’ve done and of the duties involved in the roles. Then, you can easily list the skills needed for those projects, as well as the skills you gained by doing them. Use these skills to promote your business to potential customers.
Create a Great CV
A great CV can go a long way to help you find work. In fact, many consider it your most important tool, since it allows potential clients to quickly see what you can do for them – and helps them decide whether or not to hire you. However, despite the clear importance of this document, many contractors are still unsure of how to create a killer CV that will open doors for them.
If you have the right skills but are finding it difficult to get interviews, your CV may need to be revised and updated. People are busy so they rarely read CVs in full, preferring to scan them instead. This means you only get a few seconds to impress them – make them count. Remove any unnecessary sentences and cut right to the chase, highlighting your skills and experience (you can even summarise them in a table, which makes it easier to read) and foregoing filler content.
Ask yourself whether your CV is easy to read, well formatted and grammatically correct. You’ll also want to ensure it displays relevant information to the job at hand, and that it emphasises any previous similar work you may have done. Focus on achievements, as clients will want to see the evidence that you know what you’re talking about and can be useful to them. Think about how you benefitted the previous businesses and companies you worked with; for example, did you improve efficiency in just one quarter? Were you responsible for saving them a lot of money?
Recruiters and business owners may go through countless CVs and are often looking for reasons to discount an applicant, so you’ll want to avoid mistakes such as the following:
- CV is too long – While you need to display your skills, it’s also important to keep the document length in check. A good rule of thumb is to keep your CV to two or three pages maximum, depending on how many years of experience you have.
- There’s too much text – No one wants to read a block of text or long sentences; instead, why not create bullet points that improve readability?
- Not targeting the CV to the role – Make sure to avoid sending out a generalised CV to several potential clients as well; when applying for a job, create a personalised CV that can showcase why you’re the best for that contract.
- Too much focus on education – Keep it simple. Use bullets points to showcase your studies and avoid going on for paragraphs with information that simply isn’t relevant to the job you’re applying for.
- Not keeping the client in mind – Showing off your skills is key, but it’s also important to frame them correctly: showcase what you’ve achieved for previous clients and not what you’ve achieved for yourself.
Get Client Reviews
Managing your reputation is crucial as a contractor. One way of doing this is through client reviews, which is also known as social proof; this means that potential clients will be more inclined to choose you if they know they can trust you. After completing a contract, ask your clients to provide reviews and testimonials you can add to your site or use on social media, including LinkedIn.
Don’t underestimate the importance of social proof. Recent research shows that 30% of customers believe that product reviews from like-minded people tell them whether a business or brand understands them. People look at reviews before making a purchase, be it a product or service, so this feedback can help you to grow your contracting business.
Great testimonials or reviews include details and specifics about the service you provided your customers, and you can request them in the form of quotes or videos. Make sure this feedback is highly visible so that everyone who visits your website – or your social media profiles – sees it.
Understand Your Industry
Having an in-depth knowledge of your market will also help you to promote your business. This is because it can help you to understand your audience better, to find out what your potential clients are looking for, to be aware of the most desirable skills in the industry, to know whether your competitors are doing something you’re not, to keep up to date with trends, and more. Knowing your industry inside and out will allow you to easily spot threats and take advantage of opportunities, which can help you to grow as a contractor and get your name out there.
To gain this insight, it’s important that you conduct market research, which you can do by analysing data from sector-specific forums and magazines, as well as from LinkedIn, and by talking to other professionals, for instance.
Take Branding Seriously
Your brand is an important part of your contracting business. Things like choosing a good name will help you draw the attention of potential customers – you can read more about how to come up with the perfect name and logo in our “Top Things to Do Before Starting Your Company” article. Branding is not just for big businesses either. On the contrary, as a contractor or freelancer, you’ll want clients to find you and use your skills; with a strong brand, you can make an impression on people which, in turn, will help your business.
To create a good brand, you’ll need consistency. From your email signature and your website to your social media profiles and messages, everything will impact the way potential clients perceive you and your business. Your tone of voice should be consistent as well. Decide early on how you want your communications to come across: should your tone be professional and formal? Would you prefer to be chatty or funny? A consistent voice will help you to build a relationship with your target audience, who will come to know what to expect from you.
At Gorilla Accounting, we want to help you expand your business so, by letting us handle the financial side of things, you have more time to focus on this growth. You’ll still remain in control of everything, of course, as our FreeAgent accounting software will give you real-time data and compile all of your documents in one place. Besides our accounting services, you can also take advantage of our contractor tax calculator, which will help you calculate your take-home pay.
Talk to us and we’ll be more than happy to help with anything you require.