Why Freelancing Doesn’t Mean Going it Alone

According to Elance’s 2012 Data Report, the U.S. remains dominant as the world’s top hiring country. In addition to this, it is also home to the most freelancers, with more than 700,000 operating on the Elance platform alone. 200,000 of these joined the platform between 2011 and 2012, and this accounts for more than a quarter of new freelancers added worldwide.

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Image by http://joelglovier.com

With freelancing now providing a viable alternative to full time employment it is important that independent contractors make the most of their available resources. Freelancing does not necessarily mean going it alone, as you will be at least partially reliant on the quality of your clients and the technological tools that you have at your disposal.

The Role of the Freelancer: Prospering with

the Support of Others

To succeed as a freelancer, you must create a reliable support network and strive to collaborate with purposeful tools and partners. Consider the following:

Strive to Create Profitable, Long Term Relationships: While you may be marketing an inherent skill as a freelancer, this does not mean that you are bound to achieve long term success. Your level of success as a freelancer often reflects the quality and longevity of your clients, especially if you intend to scale your operation. Reputable and corporate clients are likely to deliver the highest rates of remuneration, while also offering higher volumes of work and the potential for longer term collaboration.

Make Networking a Daily Activity: There are thousands of talented and well qualified citizens who have failed to realize their potential, primarily because they are unable to sell themselves in a proactive manner. If you aim to become a successful freelancer, then it is crucial to engage in regular networking and constantly prospect a broad base of potential clients. By engaging these individuals and businesses in communication, you will create a wider professional network that delivers additional opportunities for work.

Tap Into Freely Accessible Technology: Technological advancement and innovations in remote communication have helped to make freelancing an increasingly viable practice, so it stands to reason that the most successful independent contractors fully embrace these developments. Encompassing online payment platforms, scheduling systems and content management tools, this broad range of resources ease the burden of freelancing and improve the quality of your interaction with clients. In terms of conducting a professional operation, these tools make a pronounced and measurable difference.

The Bottom Line for Freelancers

There are a number of myths surrounding freelancing, with the perception that it provides a lonely and isolating experience among the most misleading. In fact, if you attempt to establish yourself as independent contractor with this mindset, then you are unlikely to achieve any semblance of long term success.

Instead, it is important to adopt a collaborative outlook when setting up as a freelancer. This will allow you to build a network of reputable clients and fully utilize relevant technological resources, with a view to creating a venture that can be successful for a prolonged period of time.

Additional Reading:

Supplementing your Dreams: How to Work Part Time While Freelancing Without Getting Stuck

Secrets of the Successful Freelancer: Never Compete On Price

Getting Better Fees as a Freelancer

Freelancers: Get back to doing what you’re best at doing and leave the administrative tasks to SimplifyThis. Try our two-in-one invoicing and appointment scheduling software for free.

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Planning Company Events – On a Budget

Event planning is a useful skill for any entrepreneur to have. Whether it is a launch party, corporate event or team building experience, companies can use these occasions to promote their brand and develop a highly engaged professional network.

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How to Arrange an Event on a Budget

Regardless of the size or scale of your venture, these occasions can deliver tangible rewards and help your business to grow. The challenge is to organize these experiences in a time and cost effective manner, without compromising on an existing budget or other strategic tasks.

Embrace Social Media: Whenever you planning an event, one of the most important things is to utilize the freely accessible tools of social media. Resources such as Twitter and Facebook even have their own event management tools, which can help you to source potential attendees, distribute real time invitations and manage the organizational processes with ease. These resources are especially purposeful if you are hoping to arrange a networking event, as they offer you instant access to a vast business audience and assist you in targeting potential clients or collaborative partners. In terms of saving both time and money, social media is becoming an increasingly powerful event management tool.

Simplify Where Necessary: If you are hoping to strengthen client relationships and bring your wider business network closer together, then a corporate event may be the ideal solution. That said,

these events can be costly and extremely time consuming to organize, especially as you may be inviting customers from all over the country. In order to do this successfully, it is important that you simplify your plans where necessary and ensure that the logistical processes can be implemented as quickly and efficiently as possible. So while you are free to schedule a lavish, creatively themed event, for example, you should focus on ensuring that any location and transports plans are simplistic and accessible for everyone.

Delegate as a Way of Empowering Staff: Successful delegation can pose a challenge to small business owners, especially of they have a select body of two or three staff members. Distributing additional tasks can overwhelm small teams, so it is important to pick wisely when selecting tasks and projects to delegate. Sharing responsibility for the planning of a team building event can be an extremely shrewd move, however, especially if you have consulted your staff and conceived a concept that they are in agreement with. If this is the case, then you can actively empower your staff by allowing them to organize the event and execute decisions, while also saving yourself time to focus on alternative tasks.

How to Love Your Business — As It Is

Let’s face it, we don’t all love our small businesses all of the time. Sometimes we may even downright detest them. The long hours, the unrelenting demands, the high stakes, the heavy responsibilities and all that grunge work can lead to a loss of that exciting in-love-with-your-business feeling you had when you first started. How then do you get that loving feeling back over the long run?

rosesAccording to Linda Turner, a licensed art psychotherapist and relationship coach, “loving another is about freedom and generosity; it is about choice, not only emotion.” According to her, “love is about allowing another to be as they are and about one’s own self acceptance, realizing that in loving oneself, and not looking to another for fulfillment, that we then can create partnership.”

With that in mind and in celebration of Valentines Day, we present a few ideas about love. Can you can apply these thoughts to your business too?

Love Comes from the Inside

While it’s always tempting to look for love, happiness and fulfillment from outside of ourselves (from our partners and sometimes even our businesses or jobs), the truth is these feelings are generated from within. In this regard, love is a choice. Regardless of what is going on inside of your business, you can choose to love it or hate it. You can choose to be happy or miserable.

You are in the Driver’s Seat

If you’re feeling dragged around by your business or maybe even stuck with it, remember, you made thousands of little choices all along the way that got you to where you are today. You are the one driving. Realizing this should, at the least, help you to get beyond a victim role — and open you up to greater positive feelings about your business.

Acceptance of Reality Brings Freedom

People generally can become unhappy when their expectations of how things should be are at ends with how things are. When you accept or make peace with how things are now in the present moment you open yourself up to greater pleasure. If there is something that you cannot accept, then change it. The idea is to be okay with your life and business as it is right now. This acceptance also makes it easier for you to change anything that you would like to change.

According to Ms. Turner, love is about allowing in vulnerability and being willing to risk. “Maybe that’s the place where business and love meet,” she says. “Being willing to be fully vulnerable in relationship invites the risk of losing it all – or having it all. Is one willing to risk losing, for the possibility of living their dreams?”

Wishing you all the love you deserve in business and in life. Happy Valentine’s Day from us here at SimplifyThis.

Post by Rebekah Meola

Marketing Your New Business: It’s All About Awareness

Marketing your business starts with identifying what is stopping you from being as successful as you can be. Considering that business success usually relates to sales, ask yourself:  What are the barriers to more sales for your business? Do you need to increase customer retention? Do you need to increase brand loyalty? Or, if you are a  new business, then you may be facing a common hurdle: no one knows who you are. In this case, you need to raise awareness.

hurdleRaising Awareness as a New Business

For new businesses, marketing is in large part about creating awareness. Do enough people know about you? Are people having a hard time finding your business? If you’re the new kid in town, here are some tips for creating more awareness.

Be Clear

Raising awareness of your new business will be very difficult if you cannot clearly express what you do. Similarly, always changing what you do will make it difficult to maintain a consistent message. For that reason, your first marketing step as a solo professional who is tasked with letting others know that your business exists is to be clear on who you are and what you do for your customers.  If you’re just starting out, do take the time to develop your brand strategy so that you can communicate what you’re looking for clearly and concisely.

Market on Search Engines

People are looking for products and services via search engines constantly. What’s ideal about marketing on search engines is that people are searching for something. If they are searching for something that you offer — say a yoga classes in Seattle — then that’s where you want to be. Marketing on search engines can involve pay per click advertising or climbing the organic search results. Either way, if you’re just starting out, learning the basics of search marketing will help.

Network More

In the early days of introducing a new business or brand you need to get the word out that you exist. That means letting your immediate network of contacts know what you are up to. It also means meeting new people and letting them know what you’re all

about. Networking events, conferences, business associations, Meet Ups, and even keeping up a healthy social life will help you to move ahead in the early stages of marketing a business.

Social Media

While social media sites like Facebook are a great way to strengthen relationships with existing clients, they can also be used to extend word of mouth marketing and help your existing friends and contacts to introduce your brand to others. New brands and businesses looking to raise awareness should consider which social networks to utilize to help prospective clients discover that they exist. According to a 2012 social media marketing industry report which surveyed 3,800 marketers, 85% or marketers using social media report that their efforts resulted in greater exposure for their business. Also, incidentally, social media is also shown to improve search engine results, helping to make this a worthwhile marketing tactic for new businesses and brands.

 

 

 

Turning Visitors Into Customers: Optimizing Your Sales Conversion Rate

The e-commerce industry has become increasingly competitive in recent times, as technological advancement has made it easier than ever to establish on online venture. Doing this successfully is a far harder challenge, however, especially when it comes to converting online traffic into physical sales. Optimizing your websites sales conversion rate is therefore one of the most important steps that you can take towards being a genuinely successful online retailer. As you research ways to convert visitors into buyers online, consider these three tips as well.

convert more visitors to sales 2

Three Ways to Maximize Your Website’s Profitability

According to a 2012 survey conducted by PriceGrabber, an estimated 88% of respondents planned to research their festive gift purchases in advance. A further 38% suggested that they would spend between 3 and 6 hours on selecting a viable product. This means that your website is one of many that the typical consumer is likely to visit, and there is a

subsequent need for your business to stand out. With this in mind, what practical steps can you take towards turning online visitors into paying customers? Consider the following options: –

ŸMake Sure That your Website is Compatible with Mobile Devices

A growing number of consumers use their smartphone devices to both reference and purchase products, which means that your website must be compatible with digital devices and media. While you may not have the requisite funds to develop a specialist mobile website, however, it is important to check your existing website to evaluate how it performs when visited through a smartphone or tablet. More specifically, it is crucial that your website loads quickly and that its purpose is immediately clear for consumers looking to make a purchase.

ŸEase the Consumer Experience

The modern consumer is extremely discerning, and also likely to enjoy a busy lifestyle. If you can tailor your website to ease the shopping experience and make it as efficient as possible, then your rate of sales conversions is likely to rise considerably. Incorporating prominent, actionable icons is a good way to achieve this, while service driven businesses could also feature an easy to use online appointment scheduling system for booking appointments, events and similar activities. Among an increasingly demanding consumer base, these steps can give your business a critical edge.

ŸIncentivise the Sale

Given that the current generation of consumers is more switched on than it has ever been, it stands to reason that they should be able to recognize the value of goods and services. If your pricing structure is fair and viable, then you should look to incentivize sales through a range of alternative discounts, rewards programs and additional benefits. Product orientated firms may choose to offer free shipping to consumers, for example, while others can implement discounts for those who make their purchase online or within a given time frame. The key point is to ensure that visitors have a genuine reason to buy from your website, above and beyond alternative sites that they have already viewed.

The Final Say

Even if your website achieves a high volume of traffic and unique visitors each month, this means little unless it can be translated into online sales. Profitability is the primary aim of any commercial venture, and optimizing your sales conversion rate is the first step towards achieving this.

Mobile Marketing Trends for the Year Ahead

This rise of mobile marketing has continued unabated for the last three years, ever since smartphone devices adopted increasingly sophisticated designs. In 2012, there were an estimated 91.4 million smartphones in the U.S. alone, while 9 out of 10 users actively operated their device on a daily basis.

smartphone

Browsing the Internet is one of the most popular activities among smartphone users, and this has particular relevance for marketers looking to promote their brand. According to Latitude, an estimated 55% of smartphone users are more likely to visit a retailer’s store after receiving location-aware alerts, while this demographic is also more responsive to real time marketing.

 

 

The Top Mobile Marketing Trends for 2013

With this in mind, which trends are set to determine the course of the mobile marketing industry in 2013? Consider the following:

The Optimization of Mobile Websites

Even when consumers visit physical stores and outlets, they are still using their mobile to enhance their shopping experience. Approximately 85% of consumers actually connect online through their smartphone while in store, either to reference products or compare prices. This is encouraging businesses to optimize the loading time and visual appearance of their mobile website, while also forcing them to remain in touch with the performance of competing firms. In short, it is no longer simply enough to have a mobile website, as the leading brands strive to optimize its appeal and exceed their customers demands.

The Targeting of Customers Geographically

Mobile marketing deals in real time interaction, and this provides a unique opportunity for businesses to target and engage a relevant audience. It has triggered the trend of targeting consumers geographically, utilizing the GPS capability of smartphones to identify potential customers and entice them with limited, in-store promotions. This has the additional benefit of enabling marketers to build a profile of their local customers, so that they can tailor their future promotions and brand building exercises.

The Emergence of Augmented Reality

While this concept is unlikely to reach its full potential for several years, augmented reality is set to emerge in 2013. Through this type of technology, the camera located on a smartphone is turned into a browser that can recognize physical items and products. In practical terms, this means that a consumers mobile device could be used to scan products and access relevant content such as product information, retail price and details of any promotional offers. Mobile marketers are likely to use augmented reality primarily as an advertising tool, although it has also has significant potential as a method of creating an interactive, in-store experience.

The Final Say

Mobile marketing has limitless potential, especially in terms of targeting potential consumers based on their geographical location and spending habits. It has

therefore become increasingly prominent as an effective marketing method, which has the capacity to reach an engaged audience and optimize a business’s  sales conversion rate.

SimplifyThis puts your office in the palm of your hand with our mobile apps for iPhone and Android devices.

Five Reasons to Use an Online Appointment Scheduler

Are you a coach, therapist or instructor? Do you regularly take appointments as part of doing business? If so, here are the top reasons

to allow clients to schedule appointments directly through your Website.

Top Five Reasons to Take Appointments Online

fiveMeet Expectations: When is the last time you called an airline to book a flight? Can you even remember? From vacations to classes to just about anything, these days people are used to booking things online. Why not make that work for you, too. Show prospects that you are part of the digital age, updated for 2013.

Strike While the Iron is Hot: For better or worse, we humans have impulses and a need for immediate gratification. By being available to schedule an appointment on your prospect’s timeline whether it be during regular business hours or 1:00 in the morning, you stand to increase the number of appointments you schedule.

More Efficient than a Phone Call: By outsourcing appointment scheduling to your Website you cut down on the time you or your receptionist need to spend on the phone. As the saying goes, time is money.

Fewer No-Shows: Online appointment scheduling allows you to take a deposit or for clients to pay in advance so that you can cut down on those time-wasting, costly no-shows.

Make it Easier on Your Clients: Customer service counts as much as ever. People do business with people that they like doing business with. That means you want to make life easier for your clients and customers any way that you can. By taking appointments online, you give your clients another option and an easy way to schedule some of your time.

SimplifyThis provides online appointment scheduling and invoicing in one easy to use package. Try it now for free.

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Digital Marketing Trends for 2013

The concept of digital marketing has become extremely prominent in recent times, thanks to a number of new innovations and technological advancements. While social media may have had the biggest impact on the marketing industry there are alternative trends that are likely to prove increasingly influential in the year ahead and beyond.

Digital marketing eats direct marketing for breakfast

Digital marketing remains an evolutionary discipline shaped by creative thinking and technological development. As a result, the trends change from year to year, while creating new opportunities for businesses to interact with their target audience.

Digital Market Trends for 2013: How will the Industry Evolve?

With these points in mind, what digital marketing trends should businesses be looking to possibly adopt of in 2013? Consider the following:

Ÿ The Importance of Data: The growth of digital data is set to explode in the coming years, with the result that it will be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009. 2013 will see the beginning of this drive, and it is crucial that marketers are in a position where they can digest, analyze and interpret this volume of data accordingly. This trend will also have an impact on how businesses review their marketing strategies, with marketers set to adopt multi-channel reporting as a way of evaluating performance and attributing revenue to individual disciplines.

The Rise and Rise of Content Marketing: Content marketing became particularly popular last year, and statistics from 2012 suggest that this trend is likely to continue for the next 12 months at least. Approximately 9 out of 10 organizations invested in content marketing during 2012, with the vast majority spending at least a quarter of their associated budget on the practice. This technique applies to both B2B and B2C marketing, and 2013 could also see a push to create more sophisticated content creation and syndication software solutions.

Linking Offline and Online Marketing Strategies: While marketers are becoming increasingly proficient in the use of technology, one of the biggest trends in digital marketing is the correlation between the virtual and physical worlds. The idea of cross-channel campaigns is now preeminent, with corporeal events such as trade shows, networking events and city tours being organized and augmented by digital means. The concept of Social Media Day Meet-Ups provide a relevant case in point, as they represent a physical networking event that is driven by online interaction and social conversations.

The Bottom Line

The pace of advancement in the marketing industry is increasing, and this is unlikely to abate anytime soon. Digital marketing represents the cutting edge of this sector, as it often combines both online and offline techniques to create a unique experience for consumers and corporate teams. The most important thing for small business marketers is that they remain in touch with these trends and innovations, while creating diverse and integrated strategies.

SimplifyThis helps small business owners to focus on what they do best

with two-in-one online invoicing and appointment scheduling software. Try it for free.

Do You Know All You Need to Know About Your Competition?

Knowing your competition is central to being able to effectively market your business, yet many small business owners don’t take the time to really identify who their competitors are and how they market. If you are a just starting out, or if you’ve been in business for a while, but are looking to develop a marketing plan, competitive analysis (along with audience research) is THE place to start. We recommend HubSpot’s ebook The Marketer’s Guide to Competitive Intelligence. Download your free copy here.

Competitive Intelligence

The guide walks you through a number of steps including how to audit your competitors Websites, content strategy, content quality, SEO, social media and finally sales and customer service. The information gathering that goes into these audits is time consuming and tedious and can be performed by you or outsourced to another. Ultimately, you will want to dump all of the information you gather about your competitors marketing into an Excel document so that you have all of the relevant information in one place.

Next, will begin you analysis and the ebook covers this as well. Analysis can use a strategic thinker who is involved in positioning your business. If you are a solo practitioner, you may want to do this part yourself. In analyzing the information you gathered you will start to see:

  • What is working for your competitors
  • If you are ahead, behind or equal to your competitors in terms of marketing and how so
  • If and how they are beating you on the search engines. Are they creating more content than you, or are they creating better quality content than you?

Analyzing this information will help you to discover what you should focus on in your own marketing efforts. As most small business owners know, marketing takes time, energy and money. It’s best to be strategic, for if you’re not you can very easily wind up spending your resources in the wrong places.  Haste makes waste in marketing. While competitive analysis is not as fun or inspiring as having creative ideas, it is necessary to truly market your business effectively.

SimplifyThis helps small business owners and solo practitioners to manage their businesses more efficiently and effectively with two-in-one online invoicing and scheduling.

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Marketing your Independent Venture – Thriving on a Budget

Small business owners are always looking for new and innovative ways to thrive on a stringent budget, especially when starting out. Luckily, the internet provides many low cost options. All one needs is a little time, know how and an attitude that allows for learning new techniques.

How to Successfully Market your Venture on a Budget

at symbolThis is especially true when it comes to marketing, as although it often sidelined as a non-essential task during austere times it is crucial to sustaining future growth. With this in mind, what practical steps can you take to market your independent business effectively while adhering to a budget? Consider the following.

Get the Most from Social Media: In terms of free and accessible marketing tools, social media has great impact. This is so long as it is used effectively, however, as social media success relies on far more than having an established Facebook page and Twitter account. In fact, although Facebook recently surpassed the one billion mark in terms of unique members, there is evidence to suggest that is not the most efficient business marketing tool. Instead, it is important to create an integrated strategy that uses several networking resources, while targeting sites that offer the greatest benefit to your business.

Embrace Guest Posting and Organic Link Building: In days gone by, small business owners would invest a great deal of their marketing budget into acquiring SEO services and paid links. A constant stream of Google updates have rendered these practices less effective, however, with the latest installment all but ending the use of article directory submissions and high volume, link building strategies. This benefit of this is that Google is getting better at promoting quality content, which means that you can effectively market a brand by sharing your expertise through quality blogging,  guest posting services or by building content relationships with industry recognized businesses.

ŸAccept High Quality Content Onto your Website: While reaching out to blogs and websites may help to create authoritative links, this process should not necessarily stop there. It is also wise to create a blog yourself, and ensure that it is filled with high quality content and input from recognized voices within your chosen industry. This has the effect of improving the standing of your website within organic SERP’s (search engine results pages), while also ensuring that your unique visitors enjoy an enhanced reading experience. Over time, this can prove to be an extremely productive strategy.

Read: Use this marketing secret when you have ZERO marketing budget.

The Bottom Line

These marketing strategies have becoming increasingly popular in recent times, as concepts such as social media and organic link building have emerged. Not only are these methods extremely effective in the current business

climate, but they are also free to access and widely available to businesses of all sizes. This has gone a long way towards leveling the playing field between small, independent ventures and vast corporations, which in turn is helping to stimulate a tangible economic recovery.

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