Oftentimes, the stereotype of the young, self-employed businessperson is like that of the starving artist. You’re eking out a living, existing on ramen and chips. You’re a “flash in the pan.” During your brief time on Earth hardly anyone will hear of you. Hopefully, after years and years of hard work, you’ll be able to retire on the money you frugally stashed away in your IRA.
Okay so the IRA part doesn’t normally figure into the starving artist stereotype, but it sounds familiar right? As a young self-employed American, you’re used to hearing that—after you pay off your student debt—it’s wise to start saving for retirement. At the same time, you’re used to hearing you have to spend money to make money. So which is it? Set aside money now or use it to create more wealth?
You’re interested in making more money now—otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. To do so, take advantage of your unique position and use the right tools.
Your Brand, Your Unique Position
Your brand is more than just your name, logo, and the colors you choose. Your brand is your unique style, it’s every aspect of how you represent yourself to your audience. There’s no one else exactly like you. If you’re self-employed, you have the advantage of being able to use your distinct personality and experiences to inform your brand.
Start with the best practices for building your brand:
- Concentrate on experiences: Each time a potential or existing client comes in contact with your brand, it’s an experience. Think hard about the wording and images you’ll use anytime you’re going to represent your brand, and look at examples of experiential marketing to create contact points.
- Be consistent: On your website, social media, in person, and anywhere else you represent your brand, you’ll be delivering messages. Think ahead about the tone of your messages and what you want to them to convey. Be consistent with your delivery.
- Develop and curate supportive content: You’ll absolutely want a blog to support your brand, with posts that pair directly with your vision. Include your blog posts in social media activity. Look for like-minded and supportive content from great bloggers and authors. Follow them, include their posts in your social media feed, and reach out to them for guest posts. Try guest posting on their sites and ask them to guest post on yours.
- Be different: Showcase your uniqueness by taking risks. Start a podcast, develop videos for YouTube and other social media channels, partner with artists and poets, self-publish books, sponsor events that align with your values, hire a mascot—look for things your competitors aren’t doing and do them.
- Enlist ambassadors: One simple way to create brand ambassadors is to ask for guest posts on your blog, and make sure the posts support your brand values. Also, ask clients to review you online, and if you have employees, empower them to post on your social media pages and write blog posts. Make sure to impart your vision to them clearly so that they represent your brand accurately.
Always look at what your competitors are doing, and think about what you can do to distinguish yourself. Again, take risks; people won’t be able to tell you’re unique unless you put yourself out there.
How will this make you money? The brands that truly succeed create visibility. Build your brand tirelessly and people will pay more attention to you than they do your competitors.
The Right Tools
You want to be able to build your brand and become a thought leader in your industry. But how will you be able to do that if you’re spending all your time and energy on the nuts and bolts of running your business? Use tools to help run the business and save money at the same time.
If you don’t automate your marketing, you’ll have to do everything manually, including putting up social media posts and blog posts, doing search engine optimization, sending emails, and so much more. These aren’t a cure-all, but take a look at the best marketing automation tools available. You’re still going to have to be the brains behind your marketing campaigns, but software makes executing a campaign a whole lot easier.
Filling out and sending invoices to clients individually takes time you could be spending building your brand. As with almost every aspect of modern business, you could use software to solve this problem. Invoice software lets you customize invoices based on your brand’s colors, logo, and fonts. You can create and send invoices from your smartphone, and you can automate recurring invoices for clients with whom you have ongoing business. Also, you won’t be repeatedly entering information in fields, because the software does that automatically.
Mileage Tracking Software
You can write off business miles on your taxes, but who wants to manually track their miles, log them, and report them when the time comes? Mileage tracking software does the work for you. It’s a great idea to meet with clients face-to-face, but don’t spend more money than you should on the trip to get there.
You can run pretty much every aspect of your business with Excel; from inventory management, to bookkeeping, to payroll, to crawling the web for data, the list goes on and on. Excel can automate any part of your business having to do with numbers—you just have learn how to tell it what to do. Don’t despair about learning Excel, check out a free course on all things Excel-related. All the information you need to learn Excel is available online.
In conclusion, making money when you’re self-employed is about maximizing your brand potential and using the right tools. What can you offer to your audience that’s different and better than your competitors? How can you use tools to reach a wider audience while saving time and money? Master your branding and harness technology, and you’re well on your way to making good money.