In the first part of this series I talked about setting yourself up in business. The next step is to publicise yourself and your skills. At this point, it is helpful to know exactly what line of work you want to be focusing on, since you will need to target your efforts.
In the dim and distant past, the job of publicising yourself was extremely difficult. Can you imagine life without the Internet, mobile telephones and email? How did people ever do business? With the advent of the World Wide Web and in particular search engines and blogging, this all changed and a wealth of opportunity has become available, especially to the freelancer.
But where do you start?
Create a Brand
Creating a brand is a great way to market yourself. This does not have to be the same as your company, and through time you may set up different brands for different sectors or ideas you may have. Brands serve to create associations and therefore, expectations of products you create, so a good brand name is a great way to get recognised in your community.
You can register the brand in the UK, Europe and the US, although the latter requires a US address. It is also not a given that your brand registration will be successful, making it a costly exercise. Careful consideration is what is needed here.
Create an Avatar
Avatars are images or icons that represent you in the online world. They are an extension of your brand. For example, the header of my website is also my favicon and avatar on various online services. It is a great way for people to draw an association between your online presence and you.
Create a Blog
Blogs are a great way to get yourself known and therefore heard amongst your peer group. Your blog should really be an extension of your brand and is a great avenue to showcase your skills, demo example applications, code and designs, or simply give your opinion on a subject.
I use the excellent WordPress blogging application, in a self-hosted environment. You don’t need to do this since there is a hosted version at WordPress.com, or you could use Blogger, another popular blogging platform, provided by Google.
The key to blogging is talk about what you enjoy, don’t just keep it technical. Blogs should be an extension of you, not an avenue for pretentious comment; you’ll soon be found out!
If you go the self-hosted route, you’ll need a domain name, hosting provider and obviously a blog application. I have listed a few below that can get you started.
If going the self-hosted is all too complicated for you or you simply don’t want the hassle that is associated with self-hosting, all is not lost. WordPress.com and Blogger are for you.
Blog Hosting Providers:
Both services take the onus away from the user when it comes to management (backups, plugins etc). At the simplest level, all you need to do is create and publish the content.
Join feed aggregators
To get noticed in the blogosphere, you can’t simply rely on the Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft search engines ranking your site. You will need to alert your peers to the fact that you’ve created some content that is worth reading. You can achieve this with feed aggregators.
Below I list a few that I use:
If you use WordPress, then you’re in luck. WordPress has a service called Ping-o-matic, which updates different search engines when your blog has been updated. You can also add your own services to ping and therefore notify the service of new content.
Comment on Blogs
Commenting on blogs is another great way of getting yourself known as well as offering an opinion. Since comments allow you to include a link back to your website, try and comment as your brand.
One tip, try not to be defamatory towards the blog owner, or others unless you have a strong justification for doing so. It’s all about the karma!
Join Micro-Blogging Services
If blogging is not your thing or you don’t have time to write articles, there are a number of blogging and, more importantly, micro-blogging services available to you that allow you to get your thoughts out into the wide-world.
Building a following will allow you to announce to your followers important events and ask questions of them.
In the next part of this series, I’ll talk about networking, a natural extension to publicising yourself on the web.