A note from Louise: “[U]se the power of targeted email and website domain naming to make your customers choose you first,” is the advice from Paul Icke, editorial colleague, SfEP member, and my favourite technical guru.
Here are some super marketing ideas from Paul to get you thinking. Paul has deliberately chosen to leave the technical aspects for another day. However, if you have any questions you can either use the comments section or contact Paul direct at email@example.com. See what he’s done with his email address? Read on to find out why …
Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. Really? Picture this: You are project managing for a University Press on a prestige series of international law titles. It’s Friday afternoon before a Bank Holiday weekend. Your lead proofreader has just called in and is now indisposed for the foreseeable future and the first title is about to come back from typesetting. You still have a mountain of work to clear off your desk before you go home and so, seasoned professional that you are, you turn to the SfEP online directory for a replacement. Despite a fairly specialized keyword search list, you get three good hits. All three give return email addresses:
There is a four-figure budget for each title with guaranteed repeat work but the clock is ticking. Which of the three do you feel like trying first?
* * *
Your directory entry, business card or advert is the key you hope will unlock income, and I hope that you will find some inspiration here to use the power of targeted email and website domain naming to make your customers choose you first.
Take yourself seriously
I came into editing and proofreading along a non-publishing trajectory. I had a long career in IT and founded a successful consultancy in Marketing and Service Delivery before changing tack to deal with a family crisis, so I am older; I do gravitas, and I want you to feel that I am dedicated to doing your work and that your proofs will not come back covered in ketchup and crayon drawings.
Having rubbed shoulders on IT projects with consulting heavyweights such as Logica and PwC, I know what makes them tick, and having "Big_Daddy56@hotmail.com" on your business card just doesn’t cut the mustard. In fact, many large organizations have deployed intelligent firewalls that will assign a high percentage probability to emails emanating from popular domains such as "gmail" or "hotmail" as potential spam, so your winning tender submission might not even get through to your customer contact.
The domain name, the bit after the "@" or the "www", says more about you than you think. When we want to buy on the internet, we look for clues in the domain names of unfamiliar companies – I visit www.nakedwines.com for claret, not car insurance. It has taken eye-watering marketing budgets for Apple and Orange to re-define those words in the popular consciousness as entities other than fruit, money I will assume you don’t have, so the message is clear – choose an email address/domain name combination that tells your target customer exactly what you want them to know.
The sales pitch
As freelancers we are selling services to human beings who are buying, and there is a considerable body of work dealing with how we make decisions when we buy. I am very interested in the role of the unconscious mind in these decisions (I have an "ology", as Maureen Lipman would say). Three things stand out from this work for me:
Get your domain name here
Domain names are as cheap as chips and even easier to acquire. There are rules on domain name registration, but suffice to say a ".co.uk" suffix (or a ".com" for you Walter Mitty types out there, like me, or if you have global clientele; ".eu" works well within Europe, too) will suit a UK-based freelancer working with UK organizations and cost as little as £4.99 a year. The choice of suffix really boils down to where you operate, so an overseas reader of this blog would register a domain in their home country, i.e. ".fr" for France, ".de" in Germany, etc.
You get your domain name through an easily found registrar. For reasons I can’t remember, I am with a registrar called FreeParking, with whom I am unconnected and I use them here simply as illustration.
Try out some domain names you like, bearing in mind what I have said above. You can type them into the box at the top of the FreeParking page and see if they are available. If so, you will simply need to pay and register your domain(s) under your sole trader, company or partnership name as owner of the domain(s) you buy.
There is a dizzying array of things you can do with your new domain and I don’t want to veer into the technical at this stage, so do explore; I will gladly answer any questions you may have. Basically, my registrar will host web pages for me. I can then have a free mail account with storage and 11 aliases (different bits before the "@") or I can have up to ten free aliases on the domain name that forward mail to any other email address(es) of mine. I can transfer-in domains I already own from somewhere else or I can forward traffic to them – the list of possibilities is as large as your imagination.
You can be up and running with a new marketing identity in minutes and for less than a fiver. Have several. Re-invent yourself periodically if things slow down, you feel stale or if you acquire new skills, interests or qualifications.
Practical tip: Create a totally different email alias, or even a different domain, to use for non-work activities such as social networking and internet shopping. When this address inevitably attracts too many phishing scams or Facebook exhortations, just delete the alias and make a new one. This will avoid risk to your client addresses.
I believe that a well thought-out email and domain name strategy makes you look smart and professional, so just remember to say what you do on the tin.
* "ProProofReading.co.uk" was available at time of writing and could be yours for £4.99 per year.
If you would like to know more about unconscious purchasing influences, a fascinating place to start is Philip Graves’ book, Consumerology: The Market Research Myth, the Truth about Consumer Behaviour and the Psychology of Shopping, Nicholas Brealey Publishing (London, 2010).
For background reading on domain naming, visit InterNIC or the UK’s central registry at Nominet.
Copyright Paul Icke 2012
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Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). I'm a signatory to its code of practice as a professional editor.
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Winner of the Judith Butcher Award 2017 in respect of 'highly visible contributions to the SfEP and its membership'.