Whether you’re just starting out or you’re providing services as an independent consultant, setting up a marketing presence for yourself online can be a challenge, even if you are a web designer or developer. Many service providers will tell you that they often spend far more time on providing quality services to their clients than their own business suffers.
Besides building a basic web presence, what are some other ways that a service provider can get a listing, exposure, and take advantage of social media marketing tools, online word-of-mouth and referrals?
I’m still a tried and true fan of LinkedIn for profile building. Even though a LinkedIn profile is based on your work resume, the referral system and warm leads email mechanism is effective. I’ve found work — and hired other providers — through LinkedIn.
Here are some other sites offering independent workers and service providers faster, easier tools for connecting to jobs.
People seeking services can compare prices between service providers and book appointments through Redbeacon. You can create a skill profile and once in the system, you can receive job leads and submit quotes to bid on jobs. You can then schedule the job through Redbeacon’s scheduling system. Having a profile on the site is free, but if you land a job through the site, you will be charged 10 percent of its value. The Redbeacon system matches your skills to jobs leads. You can specify when and where you work if proximity is an issue, and you can offer multiple services with a single account.
New to the neighborhood is Thumbtack, a “marketplace for local services.” Think Yelp meets Craigslist with a little Freshbooks thrown in the mix (its financial tools are coming soon). The premise behind Thumbtack is that there isn’t a single place or people in need of particular services to find them and review credentials, testimonials and feedback, and then book an appointment. Sure, this could happen on your web site but the time and expense it would take to integrate all of these features and then market your presence could be cost-prohibitive. Instead, a Thumbtack profile is free. Soon Thumbtack will be adding some back office functions so after the appointment is made and work completed, you can then invoice and track payments and eventually even receive payments through Thumbtack for a fee. Other premium options include a background check that you can opt to undergo to provide an additional degree of trust to a potential customer.
The premise of this site is that buyers of services can connect with trusted service providers based on their social graph (i.e. who they know or who they are connected to via social networks). You can log into Workstir via Facebook Connect, for example, and then the site prompts you to recommend your friends (and they can recommend you). By doing this, you build your “trust network,” and others can do the same for you so you could show up as a recommended service provider when someone in your network uses the site. I do like the idea of your social network connections helping to vet providers and customers and to create a more trustworthy connection.
All of these sites are only as good as the number of people who list services on them and the number of people who actually search for providers. Workstir relies partly on you recommending your friends to build their base with the idea that by adding your friends, you may end up with more opportunities yourself. None of these sites have hit the critical mass of Craigslist or Yelp, but each offers features to better empower providers with the tools they need to connect with jobs while also providing customers with more ways to trust providers.
Where do you list your services besides your web site, and which sites have actually brought you jobs?
Photo credit: stock.xchng user nkzs