When my wife and I started our first business, it was primarily offline. The business we started was very simple and of course, small.
We set up websites and/or blogs for local small businesses that didn’t have huge budgets or technical know-how. We worked with them to develop relatively simple, but effective, marketing and content strategies. Then we remained available to them on an as-needed basis.
We often worked at their place of business in a corner somewhere. A lot of the initial work involved getting answers to dozens of little questions. It was a lot easier to do walk across a room than to send hundreds of emails or play phone tag for three weeks.
Sometime we took the work home. Thus, we had a “work at home” business. This is how we still do it. Our clients come to us mostly through referrals and a very casual, relationship-based, sales process. We didn’t have a website for nearly two years mostly because it wasn’t necessary, particularly after we had a couple client sites under our belts to demo for new clients.
I wish I could say we executed a fine-tuned business plan and saw immediate success. No, it didn’t happen that way unfortunately. We were frequently surprised by things we should have known about. We were unprepared for completely unexpected events like getting sick, for instance. Crazy thing…. our clients didn’t care about our illnesses and expected their work to get done. Another totally out of left field surprise was that our four and seven year old kids didn’t give a crap about our business. They had the same needs and expectations as before. Over time we found solutions to most of these issues, and workarounds for the others.
Based on the experience gathered from running our first business (plus a couple that didn’t quite get off the ground), we are now teaching others how to do what we did. We don’t advise others to start any particular type of business. That is up to them. We teach the fundamental lessons that are common to almost every type of freelancer or self-employer business person.
Let me be very clear about something. Just because we are on the internet, we do not teach how to have an online business. It is very difficult to make money on the Internet. It can be done of course. All of the Amazons and Facebooks of the world are proof of that. But can regular people make money on the Internet? Yes, but… I consider it to be difficult enough and rare enough that I should probably say “No”.
I’m far more comfortable saying:
“People can make money using the Internet”
Which is merely a way of saying that the Internet is a tool that can be used as part of running a business. That is what we did for our clients.
For example, among our first clients were a florist, a chiropractor, a veterinarian, and a psychologist. They ran their businesses in buildings they rented. They belonged to professional organizations. It took a long time to learn their trade (and a lot of money for the doctors). They already had a marketing budget that was spent mostly on newspaper and magazine ads. We helped them establish a web presence and use the Internet as an additional channel for marketing.
Our clients were (and are) almost exclusively brick-and-mortar service-based businesses. We were the same except our clients were other businesses (B2B) and we didn’t rent space to do our work.
Our goal with Build A Freelance Biz is to encourage you to build a real business that sells either a product or service to customers.
We don’t sell any products beyond our consulting and coaching services.
As we come from a background in providing Internet solutions to small businesses, we focus a lot on that aspect of running a freelance business. However, while the Internet is a powerful tool to use in many aspects of running a business (not just marketing!), it can’t solve every problem you may run into. It can’t give you health insurance. It can’t pay your taxes. It can’t write up your business plan. It can help with all of those things, but it can’t DO them.
You won’t see much, if any, discussion about “affiliate marketing”, “product creation”, “sales funnels”, or “upsells”. It isn’t what we do. I’m not suggesting these aren’t worthy topics or that you can’t make money with them, but we can’t help much because we don’t know those topics.
We advocate sound business practices, smart marketing strategies, and tried-and-true business models. We want you to be profitable and responsible. We want you to make money as freelancer because you earned it by doing the right thing.