Rather than telling you about yet more things you should be doing in your ELT freelance business, I thought I’d try a different approach.
Here are three things you DON’T have to do in your business… cue big sigh of relief.
1. You don’t necessarily have to find your ELT niche first.
I am a big believer in having a clear niche. It makes marketing so much easier if you are focused on delivering a tangible result to a specific group of people. You can make sure that your social media posts really ‘speak’ to these people, and it makes you much more referrable (I know someone who’d be perfect to help you!)
However, what I see time and again is people getting really stuck trying to work out what their ELT niche is or should be. They feel they can’t get started until this is clear, and somehow it never does really become clear.
If this sounds familiar, I’d say that it may well be better to work out and refine your niche as you go, rather than thinking you have to find your niche before you can get started.
You can do this by:
- working out what kind of work you really enjoy and which flows (assuming there are people who will be happy to pay for this.)
- watching carefully what kind of people follow you and interact with what you are doing.
- asking people why they hired you (their answers may illuminate something you offer which you never thought of)
And bear in mind, that a niche doesn’t have to be around a type of product or person , such as IELTS preparation or business people. It might be that, for example, that you find your ELT niche in coming in and rescuing writing projects, or working with students who have very low confidence.
2. You don’t have to be posting regularly on ALL the social media channels.
In fact, I’d actively advise against it.
It may seem that, especially with schedulers, that it’s no big deal to post the same thing onto 5 different platforms. But that is failing to recognise how social media works. It’s not (only) about what you post, but about how you build trust. And that doesn’t happen by posting and running.
It’s called social medai for a reason- it’s supposed to be social.
Using social media effectively is about responding to comments on your posts, reading and commenting on other people’s posts, and generally networking just as you would face to face. Posting and running is the equivalent of throwing a handful of business cards into a meeting room and expecting everyone in there to pick one up and call you.
So, start with one platform, or two at the most, and then you can always expand later.
3. You don’t need to cold call or cold message people.
To be honest, I never did this anyway, as it never felt comfortable to me. But I do speak to a lot of people who think this is the only way to go, and invest quite large sums of money in LinkedIn Premium, so they can contact people who’ve never heard of them, and who have no interest in what they have to offer.
Harsh? Maybe a bit. Cold messaging absolutely can work if you have the persistence and a fairly thick skin, but I’ve managed to build a successful business without doing it, and I know you can too.
Again, it comes back to relationship building. If the content you share on social media, and through blog posts, podcasts, webinars and so on ‘speaks’ to the people you want to work with, they will come to you.
They need to know that you can help them with what they need help with, that they can trust you, and that you’d be somebody they’d like to work with.
And then they may need a little nudge, or call to action, to take that next step. They might not be ready to do this for weeks or even months, but when they are ready, it’s you they’ll come to.