How do I need to promote my small business?

Originally posted 18 August 2020 on

I’m going to hit my 10-year anniversary in a few months of being a freelance editor, after a career change from working in the international response to HIV. It’s been an interesting journey, and very positive. How I love working for myself, and the varied, interesting work. I also enjoyed learning how to run my own business.

A key question this whole time has been: how do I need to promote my business?

The answer wasn’t clear at the beginning as I didn’t understand how my business would work, who my clients would be, and how I would get clients. And so, the answer for each small business is going to be different. However, it did become clear after a few years that I would be the type of small business that can get enough work from a few clients to manage. I tend to occasionally find new clients. Current and old clients slip away (sometimes to return). I have a few, steady clients that I provide the bulk of my work too, and the rest rotate. My main clients are UN agencies, such as UNDP, UNESCO and UN Women, and the City of Sydney, and some similar agencies that produce policy-oriented work, though I do some oddball work as well, proofreading labels for liquor companies, and editing the occasional blog for smaller businesses.

So, from this, I’ve eventually discovered that I don’t need all the things I was told to get when I started out: a business name, business cards, social media, and even this website. Having established myself, my work comes from word of mouth and referrals. In the early years, it was crucial to learn how to run a business, how to write for any client (particularly small businesses) and what my identity and unique selling points were. So, for this, it was very useful to join the business network, Business Networking International (BNI) and indeed, to go through the process of branding and business cards and a website. But I’m not sure this is the path for everyone.

I’ll probably do some more writing on this at a later time, but for now, the main point of this blog post is to note that my editing business does NOT need a Facebook page, and while it was simple enough to set up, my clients aren’t going to find me through Facebook and nor do I think they particularly care or not if I have a page. It was possibly a nice way to show my friends what I do in my professional life, but with today’s information overload, I can’t imagine anyone of them doing more than having looked at the Facebook page once, and then maybe visited this website. In the interest of a Marie Kondo clean-up, I’m deleting the page … now. I’ll record that I had 208 page likes and 198 followers and made about 50 posts since my first, on 12 September 2013. Sadly, most of my posts seem to have had 0 views and 0 reach, though a handful garnered a reach of 67, 67 and 50. As I said, it really wasn’t a way to help my business. Bye, bye, Facebook page.

2023 update:

And now, I’ve hit the point where I don’t think a website for my business is necessary. Some presence on the internet is necessary, so I’ll let LinkedIn take care of that, but I think websites are mostly for businesses or services where people visit the website to buy something, or so something, or even research something specifically. If a website is specialised enough, say, for recipes, then I think there’s still good interest, but the days of a general website for a small business are over. Large businesses would be expected to have a website, but if a business has the clients it needs, and the website isn’t generating business: bye, bye, Boldface website.

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