Monday, July 26, 2021

Make the Most of Your Online Presence

This isn't just about getting rid of that 1990s clipart you've become attached to for the past decade or so.  If sales or traffic have been slow, ensuring new visitors not only feel welcomed but informed may be what your online presence may be lacking.  Often, this is the case for e-commerce operations that have non-descript names and/or a minimalist site that leaves a lot to the imagination.  While the latter is common, there's usually a formula in place (such as a strong social media presence) that offsets the whitespace chosen for your site.

Although too little is better than too much in terms of user navigation, you need to think like your typical visitor.  Ask yourself if the language used is appropriate or inviting.  Checking links every month can't hurt either.  While these are the basics, here are seven tips to ensure website functionality.

1.  Define realistic goals.  It's no secret that you want to make money but you may need to begin with building an audience first.  A lot of times, novices can get lost in this phase because they haven't created milestones that will lead to sales.  Before creating a loss leader (giveaway item to create traffic or customer base), make sure that the main dish is hard to resist by placing time restrictions on discount prices or emphasizing limited supply.

2.  Tell visitors about your product and its uses that satisfy their needs.  Don't use your description space to brag about how superior it is to the competition unless you have solid facts confirming such.  Give dimensions and other details that may be a selling point without having to give a hard sales pitch.

3.  Don't set a thirst trap while trying to make a sale.  In other words, unless you offer customization of your product, don't be too eager to get business.  Running a business is about the long haul and while making exceptions means paying some bills faster, don't be surprised if the client expects the same treatment...or worse, tells others wanting the same deal.

4.  Make your online presence more personal.  These days, basic storytelling techniques are paying off for those who want to stand apart from the competition.  It can also help give your freelance business a relatable identity.  Bio and/or  'About Us' pages are good places to start but filler blog posts can also be a place to share something of value.  If you're about humor, this can be good but if not, simple is best.

5.  Don't take clients for granted.  When business is good and time is limited, this is very easy to do.  Even if you have to reserve a time to thank them for their business or send over a small token, show thanks every time.  This gesture of gratitude is what they'll remember about you when newbies try to hone in on your turf by offering lower rates.

6.  Troubleshoot problems ASAP. This is the beauty of flexibility in scheduling.  While you can work in your jammies, you also have the power to wake up earlier (or stay up later) to resolve issues in their time zone.  It also helps to know the customs and holidays celebrated in each client's native country so you'll know how to plan your day.  Even if obstacles cannot be remedied right away, corresponding within the client's time of business shows professionalism.

7.  Keep links and content fresh at all times.  Checking links and balancing content should be done regularly and a number of free link checking sites can perform this task quickly.  When you're going at it alone, running out of post ideas is common, which is why it helps to have a backup on hand.  A reputable content marketing service that prides itself on delivering non-generic content fast is the best way to go when your time is precious.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A Freelance Gig to Consider: Food Demonstrator

While COVID may have canceled happy places like Trader Joe's demo table, places like Costco and other big box stores have resumed giving away free samples.  Although the latest strain has some people staying away from stores or unwilling to remove their masks in a crowded setting, business goes on.  This includes silent selling for new and improved products that may otherwise get lost in a sea of familiar (or habitual) food brands.  Food demonstrators make this happen without extensive culinary knowledge or training.

What to Expect

Knowing how to prepare foods is a good fundamental skill, along with basic housekeeping.  We know shoppers (and their kids) can be messy without thinking but it's up to you to maintain an inviting atmosphere. Besides cleanliness, an engaging disposition helps along with the willingness to answer questions about the product.  Remember, someone in shopping mode may be in the zone and may not want to look something up on a website later. 

The demonstrator is also responsible for crowd management so it won't appear that one person is getting attention.  Some demonstrators like to show off their catering or culinary training by creating designs but food merchandising company Hubert has some basic guidelines for setting up a food display at a grocery store.

Where the Work Is

There are many food merchandising companies that hire regularly for weekend shifts at major grocery chains.  If you live in a large city where remote work is normal, there may be some weekday openings but most companies want to place staff where the crowds are.  Hourly salaries start at around $12/hour but can go as high as $18 with a guarantee of 10-12 hours a week minimum.

On the other hand, you can also start your own small company.  While starting an in-store demonstration service may appear straightforward, your personal expertise and sales skills are imperative when it comes to closing the deal.  Although learning about the products is part of the job, you need to sell food makers and manufacturers on why you're the best person to represent their brand before the public.  Food handling certification, special training, and other food or health-related knowledge will come in handy when presenting a prospectus to a client.

How to Find Work

Using search tags like "food demonstrator", "brand ambassador", "product promoter", and "food sampling" should get you a few leads that probably need to be filled this week.  Another alternative would be to look up merchandising companies that offer a variety of services like mystery shopping and retail display.  Some of the larger operations offer tutorials on how to get started and earn credentials that lead to more work.

What's Next?

Other than your own operation, opportunities for advancement within a company are few.  However, if you fancy yourself a foodie with an entrepreneurial spirit, then creating a social media presence is the next logical step.  Give helpful cooking tips, preparation ideas - or if you want to specialize, talk about how it has changed your life for the better!  In the meantime, check out these food demo company leads

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Take Control and Learn Your Rights as a Freelancer


It's a new fiscal year and maybe you've had the opportunity to assess your finances.  While you may consider yourself lucky to have survived the pandemic (and did NOT get a PPP loan), chances are strong that money may have taken a hit or two.  If you're new to freelancing, you may have taken a cut in order to land a gig or ensure that you break even.

The saying that there's strength in numbers is 100% fact when it comes to being in demand.  Whether you're a coder, content producer, or work on the technical side of e-commerce or other business that experienced a boom in the past year and a half.  When more of us stand up for our rights, we can earn a decent living

While the Freelancer's Union seems to accommodate those based in New York, membership (which is free, btw) has its benefits.  For one, you get access to a host of legal resources, like getting paid on time.  I'd imagine some individuals you dealt with in the past year have used the pandemic as an excuse to delay (or bypass) paying you on time.

I've been at this for a minute and have heard some of the best excuses for why I didn't receive the smallest amount of money.  One person told me that PayPal was "stuck" (and I haven't seen the remittance to this day).  For me, these instances are one reason to not work for pennies.  In the meantime, no matter what they is business.  If you delivered according to directions, their sudden cash-flow issue shouldn't become your problem.

This is why I like to do business on PayPal (for sales of products and services) because drawing up an invoice protects the seller.  It also gives a reference in case something goes wrong.  Finally, in case you didn't know, this is where a lot of the big-name outsourcing companies stop in their tracks.  They may show empathy but almost never will they act on your behalf when the client acts funny about running you your rightfully-earned money.  Get more freelancer legal resources here.