samedi 13 octobre 2007

5 Creative online marketing tips for creative professionals

Being a freelance professional = multi-tasking. Yes, we have to take care of the bills, meet clients, do some market research and promote the heck out our services. And actually work, obviously.

So finding new clients and «getting out there» often seems like, umm, desperation? Let us not despair: There are literally Tons of ways to promote online. Here are some which I've tested and which I invite you to discover. Most of them are free or really cheap.

1- Blogs
Blogs are personal web-logs, kinda like a diary. But they can become a promotional venniu if you use it to let your customer know about your products. I regularly post new illustrations on my blog Pot-aux-roses. If you don't have a website yet, a blog can put you on the online map, so to speak. You can get free accounts with Blogger and set up your blog pretty easily.
You can also create a blog for information purpose (like this one you are reading :)) If you are a professional or have extended knowledge in something, well a blog can drive to your website(s) a good amount of traffic.

You can also comment on other blogs. Now, this is more tricky, as it is regarded impolite to do some shameless promotion on a blog that is not your own. But an intelligent comment with a link to your own blog-website in the signature is ok.

2- Portfolio sites
There are a lot of website where you can create an account to then upload pictures of your product on your page. Some Portfolio sites opt for a screening process which you need to apply for. Other don't. Here's a list of some of those websites:

Etsy is like an online craft market. You can find almost everything you can imagine IF it's handmade. You can set up a shop and sell your goodies there; they take a small commission fee when you sell something. It's a real Easy Peasy set up and they have manage to create a thriving online community. This year I was thinking to do ALL my holiday shopping there!

4- Online Forums
Online forums are communities in which you can post comments, you have to once again create an account in order to do so. These place are little gold mines because lots of experience people can give you professional advices (or not!). In my first year of business, I've joined the Switchboards and learned priceless how-to in marketing, tips on managing a small business. I highly recommend it!

5- Editorials blogs
Now this is a subject which will need an entire post to deal with! All I'll say here is, in my experience, getting online press has been really awesome (brought me sales every time and unlike online ads, it doesn't cost a dime!) but it demands a lot of time to manage. So keep posted, I'll chat a bit more about it later.

So voilà! In my experience, promoting online isn't quite enought tought, you still have to promote also with promo material such as business cards, postcards. In another post I'll chat more about fist promo tools to have when starting up a business.

mercredi 10 octobre 2007

I'm not late, I'm a perfectionist!

Yes I have an annoying problem with time, as a lot of entrepreneur have: seems I don't have enough of it! And lately, my «normal» 8am to 8pm work schedule isn't working for me anymore. Oh no, I -sigh- am -I hate to say it- TIRED (damn!)!

Well recently, being tired and having to stop, I had time to think more, think about my time management problem. Why do I have the feeling that I'm always running late, or that I can't manage to do all my to-do list?

Well, the obvious answer: Exactly!

I'm always running late and I can't manage my 20 daily to-do list. Now the less obvious question: How come?

And to that: I'm a perfectionist (damn again!) and I am easily distracted.

I have an important meeting? Schedule at 9 am? Well, I've better wake up early! I can't open the TV (devilish distraction), had to have prepared my material the day(s) before and opening my computer that morning is out of the question! So everything has to be perfect, I can't forget anything, have to look pro and comfy (disaster if it's a PMS day!) and, oh no, must not miss my bus!

And my 20 to-do list? Obviously, I'm not an octopus (though I'm sure the Chinese missed that critter in their astrology!) so 20 things to do is, well, plain impossible! And my distracted mind being, well, «away» mostly, I tend to start something, change room and forget what I was doing, so starting another task to then have a light bulb moment and remember whatever I was doing. I am wasting time people!

So what are my options? I mean, besides the shrink and pills :)

Here I give you my Less than 20 how-to-manage-my-time item list
1- Be real: expand my 20 to do list from a daily to a weekly thing.
2- Stop obsessing about minor detail: only you see them and nobody gives a sh...
3- If you think it's gonna take you doing a task, double that time.
4- Have a deadline you don't think you can meet? Ask for help!
5- Too much perfectionism = obsessive-compulsiveness. Note to self: I don't want to become insane.
6- Organization is good. Using your organization-gizmo to actually save time is better. Having too much organization-gizmo will somehow waste your time, so purge some (it will also clean up your hardrive)!
7- Celebrate your small accomplishments: positive reimforcement works, even when doing it on self.
8- Here's a tought: REST! When you're rested, you tend to be more concentrated and effecient the next day!
9- Stop taking on jobs-task-craft lessons if you can't managed the load! Add one only when one is done.
11- Stop trying to find more items to this list if you can't find more; you can always come back later!

Voilà, I'm going back to my work now; yes, this was not planned in my daily to-do schedule, but, you know, though I'm self confessed distracted perfectionnist, I also like to have some fun in my day!