I have now been in business for nearly 18 months and I’m very pleased with my progress so far!
I specialise in social media marketing for small businesses, mainly in the food, gardening, events, hospitality and green sectors. My way of working is to find out what makes the client and their product or service tick, then to research their market and set up Twitter and Facebook pages for them. It’s all about creating engagement with suppliers, customers, and other interested parties.
Last year I gained my first client, Tuppenny Barn Organics, whose proprietor I knew through being a customer at Chichester farmers market and through Chichester Organic Gardening Society and Transition Chichester. She thought well enough of my work to recommend me to a local ice cream maker, Caroline’s Dairy, and the organisers of a local but big (300 stall) garden show; this went well enough for me to be asked to work on their Christmas Festival and their series of three garden shows for 2012: Firle, Loseley in Summer, and Stansted. I’ve also done several small ad hoc consultancy projects which have been very useful and enjoyable, including a pub in Hampshire that I orginally “met” through Twitter, and a couple of local B&B owners who needed specific advice on using their Facebook business pages.
The gap in my work schedule left by the end of the last garden show in July was neatly filled, bringing me to the real subject of this post: that as one door closed (for now) some others opened, all of them appropriate to my business niche and personal interests, and all due to networking of one sort or another. Firstly I was approached by SuJoCo Cookery School near Midhurst to review their Facebook activities and set up a Twitter account for them. I had been to their very enjoyable Moroccan cookery demonstration, left my business card with them, and was eagerly collared at a networking meeting a few weeks later to review their Facebook business page and set up Twitter for them. Next I was referred (by someone I met months ago at a business show in Crawley, emailed a couple of times and didn’t hear back from) to the Natural Notebook Company near Horsham to set up their social media channels; they create notebooks and sketchpads from recycled paper, and make the covers and some larger artists’ paper out of recycled waste straw using solar power and making almost zero waste – right up my street! And just this week I started working with the Stansted Park Farm Shop (West Sussex/Hants, not Essex). I have known one of the partners, again through Transition Chichester, for some time and explored working with him on his online food business last year, before his business took a different turn and he set up the shop in March. The trigger for gaining the work was that I bumped into both partners at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair last week, after which they had a conversation on the train home about the need to be more active on social media. Again, I’ll be reviewing their Facebook business page and setting up Twitter for them.
It’s all about the power of referrals, networking (online and offline), chance meetings, and keeping in touch with potential clients and all the other people who may be able to give a referral!