8 ideas on how to promote your design business for free
Learning how to promote your design business is key to revenue and profitability. There are a lot of free advice out there but I thought of contributing some tips that are not mentioned often. Most of these tips require your time and effort but they are FREE in terms of putting up any monetary value. Best of all, some of these tips can bring recurring sales once the initial set up has been done. If you have tried doing some of the stuff mentioned below, I would love to hear your comments and experience about what you did. I am sure the community will appreciate these kind of real world sharing.
#1: Be a niche authority of social sharing sites
I see a lot of designers hanging out on sites such as dribbble.com but they are not making full use of the platform. One, you need to be niche focus. If you post any and everything that tickles your fancy, it is hard for anyone to see you as an authority in any areas. Two, learn how to use keywords when you upload your work to these sites. Search engine trusted these social sharing sites and will rank them higher in their search results. If you use the right keywords for your uploads, don’t be surprised to see a constant flow of search traffic to your social media account, which you can channel to your sale funnel eventually.
#2: Have an active design blog
A blog is still the best way to gain organic traffic and attract the eyeballs of future potential customers. The key is whether you have the discipline to maintain it on a regular basis. If you build something to the size of smashinghub, I can assure you that you will have potential customers knocking on your doors almost every week. If you decide on this route, remember to pick a niche. Too general a blog will dilute any niche branding you can create for yourself.
#3: Don’t just guest post, be a regular columnist
For those who do not want to start a blog from scratch, you can try to become a regular guest contributor to a popular blog. The keyword here is REGULAR. Current guest posting practices are mostly one off as they only wanted a link for their effort. What you want is so much more. You want to establish yourself as an authority on a subject through frequent article contribute. The key your is to leverage the blog’s traffic to get your name out on a consistent basis. This is how brands can be built. It cannot be done if you are thinking of just 1 guest post per blog. Think monthly or even weekly.
#4: Offer to maintain or change a website for free
What you are looking for here is the ability to work with some up and coming bloggers in a particular niche that you want to serve. Avoid the established ones as they will be too big to work with you. Once you manage to get hold of a list of blooming bloggers, approach them to provide a free revamp of their site. If they agree, do a good job as bloggers tend to blog about how good their site looks now thanks to you. Since their audience will be in the same niche that you want to serve, some of them will approach you to do some work as well.
#5: Offer classes on how to set up website
I have seen this being done by a real person. He went around a business park area and start posting his free classes on how to set up a website. Guess what? People do turn up and he really did teach them the basics for free. Eventually,some turn to him for further customization work because they knew and trusted the guy. This is one easy way to attract potential customers without being spammy or deceptive.
#6: Be useful in niche related forums
Forums are places where people ask lots of questions about the things they want but cannot accomplish. If you are specializing in designing, say music websites, go hang in music related forums. Don’t be a nuisance and start marketing your service. Instead, participate in the forums as a normal music lover. If there are any questions that forum members have regarding website and/or design, volunteer a VERY solid answer and expect nothing in return. Over time, your reputation within your potential customer will grow and sooner or later, they will approach you with their web development or design needs.
#7: Create an ebook and give it away for free
Creating an ebook is about establishing yourself as an authority. In this day and age where design services are plentiful, your potential customers need to know you are THE expert in this area. Nothing beats having a well written ebook in an area of your specialization so that potential customers who read it are convinced that they should use your service because you are THE authority. By upping your status, you are a step above everyone else in this value chain.
#8: Give away a free theme and provide customization service
Giving out free wordpress theme is a great way to create a funnel for your customization service. Make a great theme and make it available on those free theme websites. Then create a mini site with lots of faqs related to your theme so that your free theme users can find this mini site when they want to search for something related to the theme. Once they are there, make sure you have a side or header ad that promotes your theme customization services. I believe a percentage of your free theme user might engage you to do some design or mini development work for their websites.
I agree with word of mouth. It is the easiest and cheapest way to get business. You just have to remember, people will tell one person about a job well done but will tell ten people about a job done poorly!
Hi Ali! Thanks for this poignant post. Your all steps are very useful. I am trying to do everything you included here. Thanks again.