We've all been there—continually tapping the home button on our phones, refreshing our inboxes, and waiting for people to engage with us. The reality is that engagement is a game of give and take, and there are things you can start doing right now to foster that flame. So listen up.
Make Yourself Known
Your dream clients won't find you if you're huddled in a cave waiting for them. You have to give them ways to discover and connect with you—I'm talking a trail of brand bread crumbs here. Just think of the last time you had to find an amazing architect or florist or custom jeweler or whatever. There are countless options, and the search can be overwhelming.
To your customers, researching brands and finding the right fit can be a complex maze—no end in sight, walls so high they can barely see the sky. Make this process less terrible for them by making it easier to discover you. How do you do this?
Invite People In
Give your dream clients lots of ways to discover you. Invite them into what you do. This should absolutely happen on your own website and maybe even a blog. But this can also mean directory sites (think theknot.com, angie's list, etc.), word-of-mouth referrals, magazine ads, direct mail promos, web advertisements, and accounts on various social media platforms.
Before you have a panic attack, no you don't need to be doing every single one of these. You don't need to be on every single social media platform or market yourself in any and every way you possibly can. Take a deep breath and remember:
- It starts with one. It's impossible to be everywhere at once, especially when it's just you and you're just beginning. Start with one way people can discover you, and focus on that. Spend the time and energy to make it excellent. Before you know it, you'll be ready for the next one.
- Be where your people are. Be intentional about the platforms and strategies you choose. Figure out where your dream clients are and stake your spot there. Find out what resonates with them, and steer clear of anything that feels sleazy or inauthentic.
- Numbers are irrelevant. These are people. It's easy to get obsessive about those follower and like counts, but honestly ignore them. When you're small your audience has the luxury of your personal attention, so really hone in on that engagement. Take advantage of it. Be patient and remember that one person can make all the difference.
- Show up. Do the work and be consistent. Having a blog or Instagram account or whatever that you update once a year does more harm that good. So use it or lose it. If you can plan your marketing strategies for the week all at once and schedule them out, it will be a lot more manageable. Then you'll have more time for the really important stuff.
Invite people into your brand. Guide them through what you do and how you do it. This establishes credibility and, with time, trust. Share your journey, and—most importantly—make sure people know how to hire you.
Share early. Share often. People truly love the process, so invite them in.
Let's be real here. I'm in the process of taking my own advice on this right now. I launched my new website two weeks ago, and it wasn't nearly ready. I'm a designer who launched her new website without a portfolio. That's insane. What on earth would possess me to do this?
Well by nature, I'm a total perfectionist. I only focus on one thing at a time (seriously, ask my husband how I watch TV—the answer is like a zombie). I triple check everything I do before sharing it, and my quality standards are out of control. As a result, I don't do anything halfway and I put out some killer work that I'm extremely proud of.
The downside is that I have lists upon lists of ideas and ventures that are gathering cobwebs on my shelf because they never saw the light of day. I've been known to think myself into and out of an idea without ever giving it an honest shot. Eventually I got so tired of talking and thinking about doing things instead of actually doing them. So I decided to make a change, and I'm working on it.
This is me taking my own advice. I'm blogging regularly, sending out a weekly newsletter, and building my portfolio in public. Why? Because I want to find my tribe and empower them to build the brand of their dreams. I want to share my journey with you so I can teach you everything I learn and help you build something amazing.
Share early. Share often. People truly love the process, so invite them in. Show up and be patient. You'll be amazed at the engagement and community you can build. In the meantime, you can watch my brand unfold, and when you're ready I can help your brand do the same.