Working as a contractor comes with an enormous number of advantages. Being self-employed, as opposed to working for someone else, allows an individual to enjoy all the benefits that come from being in charge of one's own time and activity.
It also comes with a great deal of additional responsibilities that would typically be taken care of by an employing organization; administrative tasks such as payroll and taxation, for example, which can be extremely onerous and time-consuming, as well as publicity and marketing.
Marketing your skills
Members of all contracting professions, whether they are technical, manual or academic, have marketable skills that they must sell to customers and clients in order to get new work, make a profit and stay in business as a result. Marketing is a vital skill in itself and an absolutely fundamental part of the contractor's role above and beyond the actual delivery of the service being contracted. With that in mind, here are some hints and tips for selling yourself and your skills:
- Think creatively about the channels you employ to sell yourself. Posters and business cards are fine, but not especially original and therefore unlikely to catch attention.
- Consider also where you are most likely to catch the attention of prospective customers and clients. After all, adverts are only ever effective if the right people see them.
- It is also helpful, in terms of return for investment of effort, to think about the channels that can do the talking for you when you are not there. Websites and social media are available to people 24 hours a day and can provide a platform for a quick and easy public presence.
- Word of mouth is perhaps the most powerful means of publicity, so try and generate some in your favor. Encourage friends and family, and more importantly your existing clients, to keep a look out for new opportunities and mention you where appropriate. A single satisfied customer can provide the starting point for a whole new customer base.
- Consider getting some specialist marketing training or expert professional support. This is a skill and, as a result, is often done most effectively by people who have developed and honed this skill.
Perhaps the most important consideration is to allow yourself the time and space to give this activity the attention it requires in order to be carried out most effectively. This can be a challenge for contractors who also have to take care of all their administration on top of the actual delivery of their work.
Support services such as umbrella companies can take the pressure off with regard to administration, by providing account managers to help with issues such as tax advice for contractors, leaving you more time to focus on getting more work.
The need to market oneself is something that all contractors have in common, and the ability to do so effectively is an integral part of the toolkit that keeps a contractor relevant and successful in a competitive market.