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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Seasoned developer, zero marketing experience

    Ok, so this is probably the 1 million dollar question. I have my freelance site online and I have been designing and developing web sites for about 10 years. Although I have no qualms in admitting I have zero experience on the marketing side of web sites.

    From someone who has experience in this field what would you recommend as a starting point for my quest to unravel this mystery.

    • Is there a recommended book that is the holy grail of marketing information?
    • Are there web sites are forums that give real world examples and users can share and discuss there marketing experiences online?
    • Are there sites for e-marketing only initiatives?


    Thanks,
    James

  2. #2
    SitePoint Enthusiast Eric Engel's Avatar
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    There are five billion and one books / ebooks on the subject. Many of them are free. Hardly any of them are worth the space they take on a hard drive / book shelf.

    Are you looking for something to make the sites you develop more marketing oriented or are you looking for something to help you market your own services?

    If you just want to know more about marketing so that you can produce more effective websites, I would say that you should link up with a marketer and raise your prices for each project.

  3. #3
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    I would like to learn to market my services. I have no real marketing experience though so I guess I would like to learn the basics of real world marketing techniques and how to market myself and the services I offer.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Enthusiast Eric Engel's Avatar
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    Let me ask you something.

    I want to learn the basics of developing. What steps do you think I should take? Where could I find a 101 that will actually help me learn to do the basics?

  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast forumGuru's Avatar
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    Actually I think the two are pretty different. Development is more of a science whereas in my opinion marketing is more of an art. The one thing that is common between the two is that you learn best by doing, so my suggestion is to just get started. Read posts on this forum, try to pick up a book or two, but most importantly start trying out different techniques and see where they take you. The ones that show some promise should be pursued more aggressively and over time you'll start getting a feel for it. Even the greatest marketers keep learning.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast Eric Engel's Avatar
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    I gotta disagree with that. Marketing is very much a science. People have learned what works and what doesn't work. The best marketers learn the numbers and rules before ever trying to be creative (I'm sure that there's some degree of creativity involved in developing as well..but people have to learn the basics first).

    I guess I was trying to build up to the point that marketing isn't something you can just pick up on by reading a few books. You can learn how to write a press release by studying, but you can't learn how to create a publicity campaign by studying.

    The same way very few people are able to 'dabble' in developing. Developers practically have their own sub-culture. You either live as a developer or your don't. If you do (even if you're not employed as one), you spend a LOT of time on it.

    If you wanted to learn a little about marketing, you could hire a consultant and ask what your best approach is. They'll give you real answers that relate directly to your situation.

    If you want to become your own marketer, and really get into that whole scene, then be prepared to spend MAJOR time doing it. And as forumGuru pointed out, you learn it by doing it. For a start, try a serious marketing board.

    I don't know if we're allowed to list other forums here, but search for a copywriter's forum, and you'll probably land in the right spot (again, we're talking real marketing...not just renting non-affective ad space).

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Hey James,

    As far as marketing yourself as a web designer, I'd highly recommend investing in the SitePoint Web Designer Business Kit and also look for the articles written by Andrew Neitlich here who's got some good advice to share.

    I'd also recommend reading books by Dan Kennedy and Jay Abraham, and two of my favorite marketing resources are David Frey's "Small Business Marketing Bible" and Joe Gracia's "Give to Get Marketing"

    I certainly think you can learn to do a lot of your marketing yourself and do a great job of it, but if you find that you like designing websites more than marketing yourself, then you may want to get someone to help you with your marketing. Me, I discovered I liked marketing more than designing websites so I don't do much design anymore, but you'll need to decide which you enjoy most and then get help with the other.

    Cheers,

    Steve

  8. #8
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    Unless you plan to completely shift your focus, I would recommend you find a partner who is already as good at marketing as you are at developing, or hire someone. I am in the opposite position, I know a lot about site marketing and a bit about developing. I am currently enrolled in a study group to learn to make mobile websites, but I know enough to know what I don't know, so I partner with developers I know and we both win.

    For example, I wouldn't dream of trying to PHP code a site or troubleshoot a MySql database, so I ask three of my friends to do it. In exchange I write them a press release or a squidoo page of comparable value to the time they put into fixing my site.

  9. #9
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    Thanks everyone for there feedback here. The one common message it seemed like everyone was saying was that you can learn marketing as with most things through books but the best way to really learn it is to get your hands dirty and get to it.

    So to give everyone an update:
    Well since my last post here I have been doing a lot of research and trying to get as much information as I can about marketing and the hundred different ways there are to market yourself or your company. I purchased two books and have started posting on some internet marketing forums.

    I have always had a problem with the theoretical learn by xyz scenario approach. Reading on webmaster / marketing / seo guru's blogs I have found to be the best way to pick up on the real world ideas of how some of these things are done. Then you can try the approach for yourself and post your feedback and bounce ideas off each other like a virtual round table approach.

    I still have so much to learn but it's actually pretty fun. I always enjoy learning new skills. Hopefully I can get to a point where I can take all of my research and new knowledge here soon and start to use in the real world and translate it to some $.

    Thanks everyone for your feedback.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Zealot phppoddotcom77's Avatar
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    Marketing is like charisma. Its a talent. Good combination with some basic marketing book can do miracles. But marketing your own services is the hardest of it all.

  11. #11
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    Yeah it is really weird but I have always found that to be so. I can make a web site for someone else but I guess because I look at it with an unbiased perspective it's easy for me to get across the message they want to there clients. But when it comes to try to describe and "talk up" myself or even just describe my services I offer I have a terrible time with it and I end up flip flopping should I approach it this way, or this way. Part of it is I know because I am so critical of myself so I never think it is good enough.

    What books would you recommend?

  12. #12
    Serial Entrepreneur
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    I wouldn't recommend a book at all.

    I'd recommend changing your approach, since it's clearly not working for you.

    Don't "talk up" yourself or describe your services. Instead, when the time arises, offer to help.

    What do I mean? I have a friend who is one of the better salespeople I know and quite successful at it. She doesn't sell, though. What she does is offer to help her clients. Clients don't like to be sold, but they like being helped.

    If you're having trouble with your the message you want to convey if the client asks you what you do, then work on an "elevator pitch" that you can deliver in 30 seconds or less that explains what you do and why you're different and how you can help the client improve their business.

    But that's what you should do when you have a client in front of you. Have you come up with a plan for getting the clients in front of you?
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  13. #13
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    amf45 thanks for your comments. I agree that if someone comes at me with a sales pitch I instantly tune them out don't really listen what they have to say. But the approach of just talking to them with a way to help is a good approach.

    Helping them with the services I offer. I have not come up with a plan for getting clients in front of me. Probably would be a good idea. I have been thinking of things in my head but have not made any real plans yet.

  14. #14
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    If I were a seasoned web developer like you are, I would try to put a price on my services. say for example if its for a basic website, I would charge $149 for it, etc. etc. Then, I would create a website showcasing everything I can offer. You can join in sites or forums where I know there will be prospect clients.

    Basically, what I'm saying is to initially develop your "product" then market it. Once you have a clear direction of your goal, I think you will know what you should do.. Just my humble opinion.

  15. #15
    Serial Entrepreneur
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    The biggest problem I've discovered that freelancers have is finding clients. Interestingly enough, all my clients tell me the same thing after they find my consulting company: it's so hard finding a good freelance consultant!

    Part of your job needs to be: how do I make it easier for a client to find me. Your first question: how would one of my potential clients look for someone like me? Is it going to be on a billboard, via an ad in the phone book, referrals, the local business networking organization, google ads, online directories... you have to put yourself in your client's shoes and figure out what they do to look for someone like you. Then position yourself right smack in front of them when they start their search.

    My potential clients use two ways to find a company like mine: google searching and (via the searching) online directories organized by location and services (just being organized by services wouldn't work, because my ideal clients are looking for someone who is local to my city, so that's part of their search criteria).

    I have more tips at my blog in case you're interested in more of my opinions about marketing a freelance business. Good luck!
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  16. #16
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Thanks everyone for your suggestions.

    mishelle: I agree I think that is a good idea. I think people expect to see pricing on a web site. I am not used to doing that but people probably feel more comfortable when they can see I get XYZ for $XX.XX.

    amf45: I guess that has always been my biggest problem. I think I have never really sat down and said this is my market and this is who I will reach. I keep it too vague and services general because I can offer different services for different projects but people don't really care about that. Clients just want to find someone they feel comfortable working with first and second that they meet there needs technically. Also I checked out your freelance blog, it has some useful plain english advice.

  17. #17
    Serial Entrepreneur
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    Thank you, james!

    I think it may help to sit down and define who your ideal client would be and what you could do to help them. Once you have that info in your head, then you can figure out what you need to do next to get in front of those clients when they are looking for someone like you to help them.
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