6 Simple Ways to Promote Your Online Business Offline

Business Man Talking

Over the years that I’ve been freelancing the number one complaint that I’ve heard from other freelancers has to be about the dread that they have for promoting their own business.

If anyone had told me twenty years ago that I’d be responsible for marketing and selling for a service-oriented business, I’d never have believed them. Yet, as a freelancer, that’s exactly what I do. I market and sell my writing services to my clients.

Back then, if someone had asked me to list twenty potential careers in order of how interested I was in each of them, sales would have come in dead last every single time.

I just can’t do it.” One freelancer told me. “I hate to sell things.”

Another freelancer added this: “Promoting my business seems so boastful. How can I market my products and services without boasting?

I absolutely understand those concerns. In many ways, they echo my own fears and worries. However, if you are going to be successful in your freelancing business, then you will eventually need to learn to promote that business.

There’s been a lot written about promoting your business online. If you’re like me, then you’ve already read a wealth of materials about online promotion. You may already even excel at promoting your business online. Good for you!

Now, it’s time to explore offline promotion. When added to your online promotion, these easy offline promotion tips are sure to increase business.

Here are 6 simple ideas for promoting your online business offline:

1. Introductions

Pay attention to what you say about your work when you meet someone new. Whenever I met someone I used to simply say, “I’m a writer,” or “I work from home.” Those responses did absolutely nothing to promote my business. Most people think that a writer is the author of a novel and working from home could mean that I telecommute. Now when I meet someone I say, “I own a business that provides web content, writing, and editing services.” With that response, the person that I’m talking to gets a much clearer picture of what I actually do.

2. Friends and family

Make sure that your friends and family understand your business. I know that this can be a tough assignment. Sometimes family are the very last people to “get it” when it comes to how a freelancer earns money. However, if your friends and family do get it, then when they meet someone and describe your work to them that description will be accurate. How many times have you heard someone say that they got a project from a “friend of a friend?” That can only happen when the friend knows what to say about your business.

3. Business cards

Have one and share it with others. It’s amazing how many freelancers don’t even bother to create a business card. Yet, for many people getting a business card makes a business seem more legitimate. When you create your business card make sure to include your name, your website URL, your e-mail, and any other contact information that you may have. Once you have a business card, hand it out whenever you meet new people, enclose it with letters that you send, and give it to friends and family members.

4. Advertise

Advertising doesn’t have to be expensive. You can take out an advertisement in back of the business section of your local newspaper (look for a smaller paper). You may also be able to place an advertisement in a small, regional magazine. Often, sports teams from local schools and civic organizations are looking for sponsorship. For a small donation, the team is often willing to place an ad for your business in their program. Finally, don’t forget to explore the possibility of placing an advertisement in your local telephone directory.

5. Join a group

One of the easiest ways to promote your online business offline is to become part of an offline group. This expands your network of contacts. Most towns and cities have business-oriented organizations such as the local Chamber of Commerce that you can join. However, an organization need not be business-related for you to engage in networking. If you have a hobby or other special interest, then you can join a group that focuses on that particular interest. Even though your fellow group members may not be potential customers, they may know of someone else who can use your services.

6. Direct mail

Prepare an informative packet for a small, targeted group of businesses (or customers) in your local area that could use your services. Personalize each packet with a letter describing specifically how your business can be of help. Mail the packets out and follow through in a few weeks with a friendly call to see if the potential customer received the packet. Ask if they have any questions about the information that you provided.

Those are my offline marketing tips. They are relatively simple to follow. Most can be implemented on even a very small budget. A few cost nothing at all.

How do you market your freelancing business offline? Leave a comment and share your offline marketing tips.

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Comments

  1. says

    Some very useful tips Laura – thank you. I find it so tough to promote myself. I’m quite a modest person anyway. I usually hope the quality of my work does the talking, but there are some worthwhile tips in your article to ‘take on board’.

  2. says

    Hi Jenny!

    I’m a lot like you, I hope that the quality of my work speaks for itself and I do get a lot of referrals. However, I’ve had to come to the realization that if I don’t make potential clients aware of my skills and abilities, then they may not ever learn of them.

    I hope that you do find some tips that you can use here and that you are successful with them.

  3. says

    These are some excellent tips! Promoting yourself offline is great, because so many local opportunities don’t get posted online. There may be people thinking about a writing project, but don’t know where to turn. Your ad may be the jumpstart they need to pursue their needs, and to pursue you!

    I am just beginning my freelance writing business, and am working on building my portfolio. After I get some credentials, I will begin to promote my business offline, using these tips. Thank you!

  4. says

    Laura, great tips! I especially need to work on explaining what I do to friends and family. Another way to promote yourself offline is to take a course or teach a course. As the instructor, you’ll position yourself as an expert in your industry. As a student, you can improve your skills and network with other students.

  5. says

    Excellent points. The first one is especially key. Word of mouth marketing is still a big thing, and a proper introduction can lead to many things down the road. Be proud of what you do and tell people about it. You will be surprised as how it pans out.

  6. says

    Business cards are a must. Carry them in everything… gym bag, tennis bag, car, wallet, purse, etc. I’ve given out my card to people on the tennis courts — not for business, but as a way to contact me. So a business card can do double duty… show your contact information and advertise your business.

  7. says

    Hi Susan, Marketing Noob, and Meryl Evans!

    Susan I really like your idea about taking or teaching a course. In fact, any time you interact with people there’s a potential marketing/networking opportunity.

    Marketing Noob – you hit the nail on the head! So often we are afraid to share too much about what we do with the people closest to us. If we don’t do it, though, who will?

    Meryl Evan – I confess that I went back and forth on business cards for a while, but finally realized that they were worthwhile. Now I’m a firm believer in their value.

  8. says

    These are wonderful tips! I agree that business cards are a must. I use “moo cards” for business cards (moo.com). They’re a bit more interesting then normal business cards as they are half the size and you can put your own photos on the backs of them. Also, joining a community is a GREAT tip. I’ve been participating in the online A1 Business forum (a1businessforums.co.uk/) and it’s amazing how much I learn about promoting my own freelance business by listening to people who run all kinds of businesses. There are also lots of marketing and PR people who participate and are very generous with advice. Highly recommended!

  9. says

    Great tips, Laura! I might have another one for you: Attend live events! Better yet, create them yourself. Meetups, conferences, un-conferences, seminars, job fairs, expos, whatever! Especially for designers and developers. You guys can attend any crazy expo or conference around because everyone in every industry needs design and needs a website or blog!

    Talking to people and making friends and growing your list (yes, grow your list this way) is NOT being a sleazebag sales loser. It’s being a human being and connecting with other human beings. Business comes from that.

  10. says

    Wow! This post is still getting comments. I’m glad that it’s helping so many people.

    Thanks for reminding me about Moo cards, Monica. They look interesting.

    Hi Michael – You’re absolutely right about attending live events. Great point! For the beginning freelancer or anyone who may not have the budget to travel, I recommend that they look locally (or at the nearest big city if they are rural).

  11. says

    Another great read Laura. I’ve not tackled the task of offline promotion yet, but I’ll be sure to keep these in mind for when I do. Bookmarked* Thanks.

  12. says

    Digged! I really think these tips are very useful. Making sure your friends and family know exactly what you do is fundamental. It also helps you develop an elevator pitch that everyone (no matter their background) will understand and find interesting.

    Business cards are also working very well for me. I use every occasion to give them away. It is quite efficient to give a small discount for your service/product when giving your card to someone – just write with your pen on the back “5% OFF”. It really works and a person that gets the business card feels a little bit special.

  13. says

    Great, useful tips. So far I’ve just been doing online marketing, as I’ve kept my freelancing small. Now that I’ve opened up what I want to grow into a firm, now, though, I need to gain a more steady stream of clients, and I think offline marketing is the way to go. These are great tips for the ‘beginner’ offline marketer!

  14. says

    I like these points and I’m glad to say that I already do most of them (except for direct mail and not enough advertising because they cost more time and money to do)..
    Very nice article!

  15. says

    Great advice! Especially for those just starting out. I really enjoy reading these posts and they’re great reminders too. Keep up the good work.

  16. says

    Laura Spencer,

    Thanks for such a good advice. I’m a front-end web developer and working on oDesk. I am willing to follow the instructions and go through each tips.

    Cheers,

    Rafiul Alom

  17. says

    HI, I am just starting up a mobile website and marketing business and I was wondering what are the best ways to ( sign the deal so to speak) with customers out of my area or country? We have a promotion that requires a commitment but no upfront fees. What may be a good way to approach having the customer acknowledge and accept this commitment? online forms submission and confirm from your email?

    I would appreciate your advice in this matter

    Thanks so much

  18. says

    Besides business cards another good way to promote your blog offline is to use magnets, sticky notes or adhesive calendars. You can hand them out like business cards and they are less likely to get thrown away.

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  20. says

    Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just so she
    can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now destroyed
    and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it
    with someone!

  21. says

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the structure of your site?

    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so
    people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or
    two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  22. says

    People these days are more & more focused on online marketing but an offline marketing is also a must which should go simultaneously.

    Laura is very right about the introduction & the business cards, because in some cases even if you have got a project through online effort, you may require to meet the client face 2 face and to win the project your presentation should be very impressive and effective.

  23. Jane says

    Hi, thanks for this article, did you try maybe to promote your website and get visitors by using some profitable phrases/keywords on your website (title, headlines, content). By using good niche keywords you can position your page in the first results of Google and get many new visitors. There are even some tools which help to find such keywords like Metrics11

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