When you’re short on customers, it’s hard not to feel like a failure. The hardest part of running your own business is that bills come whether you’re working or not. Since you don’t get paid to sit around and do nothing, you have to go out and get the customers you need. Luckily, there are resources you can use to do just that.
The first thing you should do is put your own marketing resources to work. If you’ve built up a social media following or a blog readership or a newsletter subscription base, then now is the time to ask for work. You do this by raising awareness about your services, offering discounts for timely requests, and highlighting your own abilities. Don’t expect a deluge of responses, but usually you can wring some business from your own resources with the right pitch.
Next, you should put the free resources that are available to everybody to work for you. Depending on where you live, you may be surprised at the resources that are at your fingertips. For example, you may know Craigslist as the place you go to hunt down local jobs. What you may not have realized is that they list customers seeking services, too. Just scroll down to “Gigs” and select the category that applies best to your work. You can also look in the usual “Jobs” categories, because sometimes people looking to hire an independent contractor post their opportunities there, too. You can continue your search by looking through your local paper for similar listings. Who knows? There may be other untapped resources you can use right in your own backyard!
If you’ve tapped out your own marketing resources and local listings, it’s time to turn to the Internet. You can use online platforms to find the work you need. If you do a quick internet search, you’re likely to find online platforms that connect clients to workers in your field. The payment, terms, and quality of the work that’s available on these sites will vary considerably. Some require you to invest your time into filling out lengthy applications, taking tests, and offering up samples of your work which are then judged. While this can seem like a pain, these are usually the sites that connect you with high quality clients for decent pay. Other sites may require you to pay them for the privilege of using their sites. I recommend avoiding these sites, because they are frequently of inferior quality. Most of them simply connect you to jobs that are hosted on free sites. Their sole service is collecting jobs from those sites, so you can see jobs from different sites on the same platform. What’s worse is that these free sites often pit you against cheap, overseas talent for the prospective clients that are available. This drives down prices and makes doing a high quality job a losing proposition.
Getting work the normal way or through your own marketing resources is very much preferred, but when that fails Craigslist and platform sites can get you out of the downtime dumps and into the money you need to pay those bills. Just don’t try to base your business on them.