To the outsider, self-employment sounds like a dream come true. Wake up when you want to, choose when and how you work, and set your own rates. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, for those of us that have been in the trenches, it’s a well-known secret that working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
But, as someone that works full-time for themselves, I can tell you that I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The satisfaction that comes from knowing that the opportunities I’m executing on today were completely due to my brains, sweat and perseverance is worth every late-night phone call, difficult client and unpaid invoice.
The path from dreamer to full-time entrepreneur is treacherous. There are amazing clients, and clients that make you want to pull your hair out. If you start working with sub-contractors, you’re going to want a pillow handy to scream into from time to time. So, anything that makes an entrepreneur’s life easier, I like to celebrate.
Below you’ll find a collection of tools I use to improve my communication with clients. Most are free, and all of them have helped me in one way or another to come across as a brand, instead of an individual scrapping their way up the ladder to financial freedom.
It’s Like Sending an Entire Landing Page to Your Client’s Inbox
Have you ever received an email that looked more like a webpage than a simple text message? Humans love graphics, they draw us in and communicate things in moments that would otherwise require a paragraph. And, when you combine a call-to-action button to your email layout, conversions can skyrocket by as much as 28%!
GetResponse is an email marketing and conversion platform that empowers freelancers and small-business owners to create a streamlined email marketing and landing page campaign. If you can drag and drop items with your mouse, you can design emails that jump out of the inbox and engage your current and potential clients.
Why leave the sharp looking graphics and email layouts to the big guys? GetResponse makes all of my marketing communications look like something developed by a team of designers and marketing gurus.
Powerful, Free IM Plugin for Your Website.
In the early stages of my business, most of my customers were generated through referrals. They’d message me via email, Facebook or through a satisfied client. Communication was easy and sales usually followed because they knew my reputation.
As your business grows, a website becomes a critical tool for explaining your services, value propositions and experience. Providing an email, phone number and social media presence was a great first step. But, my conversion rate skyrocketed once I started offering the ability for potential clients to message me directly on my site.
Tawk.to is a free site plugin that allows your site visitors to message you on your computer, smartphone or tablet (via the tawk.to app). In my experience, their platform is reliable, and my entire team could communicate with clients; creating a solution that allowed for anyone that was available to jump in and wow a potential client with fast, helpful answers to their pre-sale questions.
After speaking with many of our new clients that utilized the chat feature, they assumed we had a call center answering their questions. The perception that a freelancer or early-stage entrepreneur is a brand can be an invaluable tool in gaining customer trust.
Create an Email Signature that Excited and Engages
Drafting a professional email is incredibly important. Grammar, sentence structure and messaging are critical to build client trust and clearly communicating expectations with team members. Before you start responding to messages in your inbox today, ask yourself: “Does my email signature inspire trust, encourage communication and engagement?”
It might seem like a minor element to your broader communication strategy, but an email signature can excite and inspire the recipient of your email. I use a tool called WiseStamp to create engaging email signatures that communicate much more than a simple name and contact information. My signature includes direct links to my social media channels. And, if I’ve developed a new product or service that I’m excited about, I can embed videos, gifs and banners for everyone that receives my messages to interact with.
I’ve seen Realtors utilize WiseStamp to showcase new listings and artists share their latest YouTube video. When someone is done reading your message, you have their undivided attention. For that split moment, you get to decide what they think about next.
Let your signature leverage your personality, work ethic and creativity. And, the best part is WiseStamp is 100% free. Although, if you want to remove their branding, there is a fee.
A Simple, Professional Online Introduction for Freelancers
A business card is so two-thousand and late. Business is conducted digitally, and creating a strong online presence was mission critical for growing my business. In fact, I can recall numerous instances in which a person I was talking to about my services googled me, on their phone, while I was still talking. Yeah, it might sound rude, but if you aren’t online and searchable, you might as well not exist.
To start my digital presence, I created an account on multiple freelance platforms: UpWork, Fiverr, Guru, the usual crowd. As I completed projects, my online reputation improved and I was invited to apply for more jobs. But those profiles didn’t quite reach people that were casually searching for my brand, my services or my competitors online.
WiseIntro is a tool I’ve used to create a digital business card for my brand. Like a business card, it lists my contact information. But, because it’s online, I can regularly update it with new projects, promotions and messages that communicate my values to potential clients. And, unlike the freelance platforms, it shows up in Google search results.
My favorite part about using WiseIntro is that it can be bundled with the premium edition of WiseStamp, because both products are produced and supported by the same company. My online reputation is important, and both of their products help me to better present myself online to potential clients.
Communicate Professionally and Engage the Customer by Offering a Human Experience
The downside of operating in a digital world is that it’s easy to unintentionally distance yourself from your potential and current clients. The human element is critical for early-stage entrepreneurs. Truly, your first few clients buy you more than a product or service. Your reputation is on the line, and the way you handle their needs will speak volumes about the brand you’re hoping to build.this
For further reading on winning the battle to personalize the customer experience in a digital world, I recommend this article covering nine communication considerations for professionals of all stripes and backgrounds. You’ll notice that quality is much more important that quantity, and the first three things on my list for building business relationships is instant communication capabilities, the opportunity for clients to engage with my broader digital portfolio, and the ability to easily verify me in search results.