Running a small to medium-sized freelance operation out of your home used to look a lot different. First of all, people knew you were a one-man band.
A single email address and your home phone number is how people contacted you. Maybe you had a website, but probably not. Advertising was available only through traditional – and expensive – mediums like print, radio and TV, meaning you had to spend heavily just to compete with the big businesses on your block.
Now you can have an 800 number, multiple email addresses and an assistant who works across the world. All of these work together to make your portable business appear bigger than it actually is.
This builds a trust and confidence with your customers, which every small business needs to survive. And thanks to technology, there are some simple ways even the one-person freelance operations can do to make this happen.
Incorporate strategies from the list below to bring your business to the next level.
One of the best ways to appear bigger is by using technology called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). These systems operate on your data network, allowing for communications over the Internet. With VoIP, you can assign an 800 number to reroute to your cell phone.
A key feature is being able to create virtual voicemail boxes and different extensions (press 1 for sales, 2 for service, etc.) It’s like having a call center without having to coordinate or pay for one.
When coming up with your address name, choose Jane.Smith@Domain.com instead of Jane@Domain.com. Larger companies have many people by the same first name and use both first and last names to avoid duplication.
You should do the same to avoid seeming like a small operation.
If you’re a business of any size, the first place customers will look to connect with you is on social media. And simply having a Facebook page or Twitter account isn’t enough. You have to actually engage with your customers through these platforms.
Unfortunately, this takes time – the nemesis of small freelance business owners. This is where social media management tools like Hootsuite, TweetDeck and SproutSocial come in handy.
They can help you manage your many social platforms by monitoring and posting content. You can schedule updates and easily edit them from a spreadsheet. They also give you customized analytics to see who’s reading and responding to your thoughts.
There are many solutions on the market that can absolutely transform a from-home operation. Virtual office services allow you to create a corporate image without the costly overhead.
For a monthly fee you can receive a business fax number, dedicated phone number, live receptionist answering phone calls and voicemail forwarding to your email. You’re no longer confined to a building or forced to rent out an expensive downtown office. Stay at home and run your operations on a larger scale.
How you send your customers invoices can give them a clue into the size of your operation. Sending a basic Microsoft Word template doesn’t say a whole lot about your scale, and instead may make you seem amateur.
There are many invoicing solutions that allow you to create templates that are beautiful, functional and fully customizable. They also can include built-in features that let you find out exactly when your client has viewed or paid your invoice.
Whether you’re sending an email, invoice or social media update, it’s important to remain as streamlined as possible. The less you have to do in the process, the more time you have to actually run your Freelance Nation company.