You may follow my business on Instagram (@fashionablyfrankmarketing) and wonder: how has she been so booked in just a few months of actively seeking out new clients? The answer has a lot of active pieces that have to be in motion all at once to mold the bigger picture. But, today I'm sharing these with you. I'm breaking it down step-by-step so you can glean the tidbits of biz advice that you're so desperately searching for (and nobody else tells you).
FIRST & FOREMOST: I WAS GENUINE.
Nobody likes a fraud. People want someone to believe in. Someone to trust with their baby business. Someone they feel is competent to take on the task at hand. No matter what the circumstance is: whether they're looking for a simple photoshoot for their business or a full-fledged digital marketing manager, they need to be able to believe in you.
I KEPT IT FRANK & NOTHING LESS.
I'd say the number one thing clients respect about me is my brutal honesty. I'm not honest in a mean way, not even in a semi-harsh way: I'm honest about the process, the price, the results and the time expected for their collaboration. I'm not a frou-frou digital marketing firm that promises you a ranking on the first page of Google (impossible!) or 10,000 followers in 6 months (they're fake); I set realistic expectations and guide my clients through the process with sheer frankness.
I DID SOME WORK FOR FREE.
In the beginning, you may consider doing some pro bono work to kickstart your portfolio and get things off the ground. You can also do this when you launch a brand new service that you're not too familiar with yet. While I've always excelled at social media and blogging, web design was a whole 'nother venture I've been slowly, but not fully dabbling in (hey - I don't even code!). I list a specific disclaimer on my services page that I am not a trained web designer, I just love creating!
Because I'm new to web designing, I get experience where I can (and price my packages super affordably) as I gain knowledge and experiment with new and different exciting platforms and builders. If my dear friend (or fellow girlboss) is needing some assistance with a website but can't afford my services, if it's something they are willing to let me take design ownership of (while respecting their brand style guidelines) and don't expect a ton of deep-dive editing time for, I'm happy to consider making it free of charge. This helps me build my portfolio and helps out others who are just now reaching for their big biz dreams.
I PUT IN THE TIME & NEVER STOPPED LEARNING.
I'm a big believer in lifelong learning - I say that alllll the time. I love taking classes and attending workshops - whether in-person or online to better my knowledge and stay on top of industry trends. A true consultant (in any field) constantly challenges themselves to be the best and enrich their education... even after school. I equally love learning from fellow industry experts, so I adore Twitter chats and grabbing a cup of coffee with those whom I admire.
I SHOWCASED MY BEST WORK.
No matter where I did work, I made sure that it was showcased. I released a new website? I shared a pretty pic on social media and/or added it to my website's portfolio (if it was one of my favorites... you don't need to add everything to your portfolio!). I also made sure that my work was showcased throughout my personal blog and business' marketing/branding. I want my clients to know what they're getting when they hire me and I make sure to show this in everything I do.
I REACHED OUT TO MY IDEAL CUSTOMER.
Completing StoryBrand by Donald Miller helps an immense amount (or a similar branding program). Kyrsten over at Copper Kettle Co. is a fabulous branding resource, if you're looking for a branding expert that can give you actionable advice for the brand story of your business. She has some exciting things up her sleeve for this coming year, including her first annual Creative Brand Summit happening Aug. 21-24, 2017 - get in on the fun while you can! It's completely FREE.
I PROVIDED FREE RESOURCES.
Whether we were chatting on Facebook Messenger or people simply follow me from afar on Instagram, they were receiving free resources... always. I pack my Instagram full of actionable advice, industry trend news and tips that my followers can implement that day, not just when hiring me. Concealing your greatest weapons is smart, but failing to give something (anything!) away is the ultimate kiss of death. If you want to grow for longevity, you must give freebies!
I JUMPED AT OPPORTUNITIES THAT CAME MY WAY.
Sure, not every client has been my favorite client and they aren't all meant to be. But when starting out, you jump at whatever comes your way (within reason, of course: don't get caught working for a political campaign that has contrasting views from your own unless you want to be associated with that. Still be picky!).
The same goes for internships, too. I was lucky enough to have two internships, while very different, that I truly liked, but sometimes, you will receive less direction than you may have desired and you may need to step in and take ownership of your experience. I began both of my internships during critical moments of change in the organizations, and with change comes some instability. No matter what the situation is, you must forge your own path and determine the outcome.
And, as one of my dear mentors shared with me in the middle of my very first internship, we must remember this quote:
I KEPT MY MENTORS CLOSE.
I have a handful of people I consider my mentors: both of my internship supervisors, other members within my internship teams, a variety of #girlbosses that I look up to online and a woman in San Diego doing exactly what I dreamt of doing. This last woman took me under her wing after meeting me via Twitter and grew me immensely, causing me to feel more comfortable in my skin as a digital marketing professional. We all need mentors and individuals that inspire and motivate us to be better people, both in a general sense and in our field. If you see someone on Twitter or Instagram who is doing what you want to do someday, reach out. Just do it. Who knows what relationship is right around the corner!
I LEVERAGED HOLISTIC DIGITAL MARKETING.
I'm not going to spill the beans (unless you hire me! :) ), but leveraging a holistic digital marketing strategy is how I attracted a majority of my clients. While some may be focused on solely producing imagery and hoping that it sells, I used true marketing tactics and tools to rank well on Google, engage my specific target audience on Instagram and refer people using my blog (yes, this one!).
I EMBRACED NETWORKING.
Going to networking events can help you build a more successful, ready-to-invest following, as these biz owners are typically more savvy and may have more money, depending on whether or not they pay for business networking groups. You can also network at conferences, which is another great sign they have dough. Even if you don't directly pick up a client at the event, there will most certainly be someone they happen to know who will be interested in your services.
Another way of networking would be to join a local entrepreneurs group or start your own! I attended a few membership-based networking groups and just didn't love them. So, I started my own with a fellow female business owner in town. We don't charge membership and we don't outwardly "sell ourselves". We believe that making connections happens naturally and people will buy into what you are offering when and if it is right for them. No need to shove it down people's throats!
I DEPENDED ON WORD OF MOUTH.
Word of mouth is STILL the hands-down best way to get more business (and remember I'm the social media specialist telling you this. Trust.). Depend on your clients to spread the word about you and always maintain positive working relationships with everyone, regardless of how many future financial/relationship perks you think they can give you. You'd be surprised.
Hand out your business cards to your friends and family members and ask them to pass 'em along whenever they hear of someone needing your specialty. Make sure your business cards are cute, too, and truly represent who you are/what your business is all about. If you're a photographer, you have the ultimate opportunity to personalize your business cards to your clientele: if a couple wants to book you for a wedding, give them a special Moo card with a photo from a wedding shoot on it. A newborn session? Give 'em an adorable little chunky baby!
I COLLECTED TESTIMONIALS.
I highly suggest asking your clients to submit testimonials when they are finished working with you (or about 6 months into a working relationship) . Same with internships and formal employment jobs positions. You need all the help you can get when starting out! If you're a quality worker and a nice person, your testimonials will speak for themselves. If you look at my "Kind Words" page, that alone would sell someone on my services... not to toot my own horn, buuuut... :)
I WALKED THE TALK.
Not only do clients want to see that you're knowledgeable in your industry and niche, they want to see you WALK that talk, girlfriend! When I say that curating a beautiful Instagram feed is necessary to your success, I mean it. I hire my own photographers and invest in quality stock photo memberships from fellow small biz girlbosses to elevate my brand. I lead by showing instead of just telling and hoping for my leads to catch on. I'm a visual learner and my leads may be, too.
I Created Urgency.
Then, as I was booking up, I made sure to create an announcement bar on my website, wrote social media posts with reminders to book me for a consultation if seeking my services, wrote a blog post and shared the news to all my friends and family who were lovely referrers for me. I used language such as, "Almost booked through fall 2017 - schedule your FREE 1 hour consultation today!" Creating urgency also shows you're in high-demand and implies that you're well-respected.
I am SO happy for you in your new business endeavors and wish you nothing but the greatest, most beautiful and incredible successes you never could've ever fathomed!
Need me? Drop me a line. I'd be happy to help you execute a similar strategy and meet up for coffee to discuss your journey. Promise! xo
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THE BLOGGER: KATHRYN COFFMAN
Kathryn is the lead contributor + founder at FashionablyFrank.com. Obsessed with leading a life of balance, she started the blog in 2013. Since graduating college in 2016, she is now a digital marketing specialist through her business, Fashionably Frank Marketing. She believes a cup of coffee is the answer to life's problems + that all women should embrace a #girlboss mantra.