Growing your business as a contractor means developing your personal brand, your status within your chosen field, and ultimately building your customer base.
To do this, it helps to stand out from the crowd. Having more of a 'personality' in the professional sense makes you more visible and can encourage positive word of mouth.
Here are just a few of the best ways to achieve this, so that you can make sure potential customers not only find you, but perceive you to be outstanding in your field.
Have a website
It's almost essential to have some form of online presence, so people can find your contact details when they type your name into a search engine.
That can be a website, a professional blog, a Facebook page or a Google My Business profile - there are plenty of options, they mostly don't require any web design skills, and many of them are free or very low-cost.
For the most professional appearance, register a website of your own. But for a contractor working as an individual in many sectors, a profile hosted on a third-party website is enough.
Use social media
Social media is a good way to spread the word and show your personality a bit more, which again helps you to be more distinctive and not just another name in the phone book.
Choose which network (or networks) you want to target, and understand the differences between them:
· LinkedIn is best for B2B contractors and mostly clerical roles
· Facebook is good for trades and consumer-facing contractors
· Twitter is a general purpose platform and quite conversational
· Instagram and YouTube can be used to build a photo/video portfolio
Try to use social media quite 'naturally'. It's better to build engagement with your followers - don't try to just advertise at people or spam them with links to your website.
Target a niche
On the one hand, it's good to keep your potential customer base as broad as possible. But at the same time, it's easier to become 'known' if you target a niche.
This could be as simple as choosing your service that sells best, or the sectors that hire you most, and making sure your name is associated with that service or sector.
You can still welcome bookings or orders from outside of your niche, but over time it's likely your reputation will grow - along with your specific experience and expertise - so that your niche becomes your most lucrative source of work.
Finally, don't be afraid to be yourself. Often one of the main reasons why people hire a contractor is because they find the contractor's personality or points of view appealing.
It's usually best to steer clear of controversial opinions on social networks, but if you have something positive to add to a relevant discussion, make your voice heard and build some status.
You probably chose to be a contractor because you value your independence and your own way of doing things - so turn that uniqueness into a selling point and you're poised for greater success.