I’m a writer, an I spend my working day at home or in a coffee shop thinking, researching, drafting, and editing. Writing is a solitary activity. Even when there are people all around me, my focus is on my thoughts and the screen in front of me. I like it that way. Although I enjoy the company of other people tremendously, by default I lean to solitary activities.
One of the major benefits of “working online” — whether as a writer, a developer, or a solo eCommerce merchant — is that you’re rarely forced to move out of your comfort zone and into the crowd. When I talk to remote workers and creative professionals of similar inclinations, a common theme is their dislike of the traditional office environment and a positive horror at the thought of anything related to face-to-face marketing.
However, while online businesses certainly open a space for introverts to earn a living in the way that best suits their personality, focusing solely on online marketing often means leaving money on the table.
Get on the phone
I have a particular dread of calling anyone out of the blue to pitch an idea to them, or even calling an editor I already know to discuss an idea. Part of that is my inherent introversion, and part of it is my millennial inclination to use a phone for everything except making phone calls.
When I’ve discussed this with my more extrovert friends in sales and marketing, they think I’m nuts. Not necessarily because they enjoy the process of calling leads — many find it stressful — but because it works.
Now, I’m not suggestion bloggers and SaaS developers set aside their afternoons to cold call people for the hard sell, but overcoming a natural reluctance and picking up the phone is an excellent way to build relationships with customers and leads. A blog or email newsletter is nowhere near is effective as five minutes on the phone with a customer. That’s true in sales, but also in support and customer service.
Picking up the phone can help you grow your business.
Stand up and be heard
Phone calls are great, but nothing beats standing in the same room as your readers and users, or those who might become readers and users. For solo workers, it might seem that opportunities to meet other people are limited, but with a bit of imagination and determination, it’s easily done.
- Sociable bloggers, podcasters, and app developers organize meet-ups so they can socialize with their audience. If that doesn’t seem appropriate, you can attend meet-ups organized by other projects. WordPress, for example, organizes regular meet-ups around the world.
- Attending conferences is also a great opportunity to mix with other people. Whatever your medium, there’s sure to be a professional conference that caters to it.
- And, if you’re feeling brave, you can speak at a conference in addition to attending it. Giving well-regarded conference talks is an excellent way to promote your personal brand and your business.
You might be reluctant to move beyond online marketing and promotion for your business, but as any salesman will tell you, there’s nothing quite so effective as in-person interactions with your audience or customers.