Yes, I’ve never worked in an ad, design or marketing agency before starting my own. That meant I lacked experience when I launched my own 3 years ago.
For over 3 years now, I’ve been a freelancer. The first 2 years were pretty rough. Life felt like a roller coaster. But I’m quite satisfied with my third year. Business is starting to build up and things are looking a bit more structured.
Since starting, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Some small and some much bigger.
So, if I had to start over, what would I do differently? If was able to travel back in time and mentor myself, what would I tell that guy?
For this blog post, I wanted to try the interview format. For this one, I asked the founders of Direct Coffee, a Swiss ethical coffee startup, a couple of questions. I met Michael at the Kleinhafen coworking space where he sometimes works.
He and his wife, Marie, bootstrapped their company.
On which position does my website rank?
First, of course! I don’t need to optimize my website.
Ok yes, maybeeee but:
- You are probably first, for your branded keyword (the name of your company).
- And on your own computer.
Here is the catch, most probably you are browsing the web, always with the same browser, from the same computer, and you are not cleaning your cookies.
If you search for anything on Google and let’s say, click on the third link without visiting the two links on top. Google will learn, and the next time will reorder them for you.
As a small company, you need tools that will help you achieve your daily business easier. From project management to time-tracking, the possibilities are endless. Here is the list of apps I use almost on a daily basis.
I came up with this list mostly because I’m curious to have your feedback. Do you use some of them as well? Or did make a different choice? Why?
Every month, the second point on my goal-list is to write a blog post and send a newsletter. You will be quick to note this never has been done. Client work always gets the priority. But it should not, not always.
Usually, when I get access to a Google Analytics account, I quickly try to find out how accurate (or polluted) the data is. Most of the time there is some spam traffic in Google Analytics. For smaller websites, it sometimes accounts for up to 30% of the sessions!
The side effect of spam traffic? You can’t really rely on any general data. It will corrupt your general understanding of the visitor profile. Let’s fix this.
Hey, Bonjour, Salü zäme! Long time no see! The summer is always a busy time… away from the screen. And that’s good.
One year as a freelancer
The first year of my odyssey (!!!) as a freelancer is now over. A quick look over the shoulder helps to see where you’ve come from. And can give you hints and indications for the direction you should be heading.
- The business didn’t grow as fast as I planned, but it is heading in the right direction.
- Volunteers work for Museomix and the Swiss Tech Association is time-consuming, but it is defenitively worth it. #Fun #Networking.
- Nothing is easy nor fast, but perseverance and hard work pay off.
Last year I published an article on how to start your online communication, for free. But the hardest part are not the tools. What seems to bring the biggest struggle is the Digital Communication Strategy:
- What should I tell my clients?
- How should I say it?
- To whom must I broadcast my message to?
A Digital Communication Strategy is just an extension of your “regular” Communication Strategy. It should be included in the latter one. Most elements will be the identical, actually only the goals, channels and KPI will be different.
A year ago Xavier contacted me to launch the Swiss Tech Talks in Basel. I saw it as a great opportunity to meet new people in a new city but I didn’t really forecast the workload which would be linked to it. Anyway, it was great fun and there will definitively be a Season Two!
Only 2 talks were held this season. 3 had been planned but I had to cancel one. I guess these are the “problème de jeunesse” which you should expect when creating something new. Let’s try to improve for next year.
Building your company is great. Well… not always. Specially if you are building your enterprise from the ground up and alone. No one is there to tell you what to do. No one to listen to your struggles.
“What about friends and partner?” you will ask. They are of great help. They will support as much as they can. But when they are not entrepreneurs themselves they can’t fully understand your daily struggles. But that is totally ok, and normal.
Your website is up and running, the design is sleek and the first visitors flow in. 10, 100 and now 1000 unique visitors per month. But wait, with how much visitors per month should you be happy?
Tracking the number of visitors is pointless if it is not correlated to the conversion rate (and your business goals). 1000 people visiting your page and leaving without having taken any action are worthless to your business. Tracking form submissions can help in this case.