Some businesses operate exclusively online, while others exist only in the “real” world. And most of us would probably agree it’s hard to be proficient in both spaces. Creating a website and promoting it on social media is a wholly different job than installing a shower or rewiring a kitchen ceiling. Yet an online presence can dramatically increase your reach as a freelance contractor, which helps you connect with more clients and positively impacts your financial bottom line. Luckily, there are easy ways to get started.
Create a website
Let’s start with a hard fact: In this day and age, everyone researches everything online. If your sink gets clogged, most people’s initial reaction will be to type “plumber near me” into a Google search bar, rather than looking in the yellow pages or asking a neighbor for a reference. That’s why having a website is important. It will increase your chances of being found and selected. It doesn’t need to be an intricate, heavily designed site, either. But if you don’t have a presence online, chances are your competitors do and therefore will have an advantage over you.
You can start simply, with a few pages containing Before / After pictures, some customer testimonials, a list of the services you can provide, information about your fees, and a contact page.
Many online services like Wix or Square allow you to create a site in just a few hours, offering dozens of template options to start with. If you really don’t have time or if just the thought of building a website just gives you a headache, hire a fellow freelancer to do it for you. Platforms like Upwork or Fiverr can connect you with a professional web designer in minutes. (Alternatively, you can ask your kids or your neighbors’ kids; they probably know how to do it!)
Whether you decide to create a website yourself or hire someone to do it, make sure your site is optimized for mobile. What does that mean? It means the design of the page will adjust automatically when people visit your website from a mobile device. Mobile traffic represents more than 50% of total online traffic today, and that number will only increase in the future. Every website builder out there allows you to check what your website will look like on mobile so you can edit accordingly. Don’t overlook that.
Pictures are everything
Let’s repeat that again: Pictures are everything. If you have bad photography on your website (bad light, low resolution, weird angles, dark colors…) it will give the impression that your work will also be bad. It doesn’t mean it’s true, it’s just how it will feel to potential customers. So make sure to polish your photos; choose some that are bright, colorful, and vibrant. Ask a friend who’s good with cameras or a local photographer to take a few shots of your latest work (before/after comparisons always tell a nice story) and make sure to edit them so they turn out as pretty as can be.
Create a Business page on Google or Facebook.
First of all, it’s free. You can start on Google here, and on Facebook here. Make sure to add some imagery (a logo, a picture of yourself, samples of your work…) otherwise, the page won’t look managed or official, and it might feel to customers like your business doesn’t exist anymore. Once you have a business page, your customers will be able to leave reviews, and you will show up more frequently in local online searches. If you get bad reviews (it is the internet, so you probably will…) one good practice is to reply to them, offer to discuss the issue with your customers offline, but also give your version of the story without being too aggressive. This will encourage the visitor not to take the bad reviews at face value.
Ask for reviews
The truth is, having good ratings on Google or Facebook, but also on professional sites like Angie’s List or Houzz, is almost as important as being good at your job. If you’re talented and the world doesn’t know, what’s the point? If customers are satisfied with your work, don’t hesitate to ask them if they can leave a short review online (and maybe offer a small discount if they do.)