I read a lot of message boards, and many of them revolve around new business owners.
I can’t tell you how many times I see this post: I need BLANK. I don’t have any money. Can someone do this for free?
Bartering is great. If you can find someone to barter services with, by all means, if they pan out, do so. I have gotten a lot of great things by giving away a little of my time in web design for a little of someone else’s time in something else. Free advertising works sometimes; linking back to another site may not be a bad option.
Yet, I have also seen and heard about some horror stories that involve having something done for free.
If you find a person who is starting out in business, and who needs to skrimp a bit, then bartering might work.
But if you are hoping to get everything for free, chances are you will end up with a business that looks cheap. And if it looks cheap, chances are your potential clients are not going to stick around for long.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money and purchase top dollar services on your start up. If you are hoping for a web site, for instance, you can often purchase a template-even have a designer custom make a template for your site-for a rather inexpensive fee.
Need business cards? Certain online companies really do save the consumer, and business owner, some money. So do some businesses that are based in your own town-you just have to make some phone calls to find them.
Flyers, brochures and menus got you down? Certain companies and individuals specialize in working with those who don’t have a lot of funds but who need a certain amount of marketing materials.
These are my tips for finding good work, inexpensive work; work that will not break your bank but will still look professional.
First, know what is most important and spend your money there. If you are forming an online eccomerce company, you should not skimp on your site. If you are creating a certain product, put your money in the ingredients and materials to make that product. Don’t go cheap, or your product will end up cheap. Figure out what your business is about and spend your money there.
Don’t go cheap on marketing materials. Sure, you can save money here. But if you print up your own flyers and they are crooked, the print is light, the graphics are poor and the content has numerous spelling or grammatical errors, people will turn away. If you know you don’t spell well, admit it and find a copywriter to help, or at least get a family member or friend to proofread. Type up the flyer and take it to a local printer so the color looks good. Spend a little money to get your name out there; without customers, you won’t go far.
No money? Find a student to help out. College students are just hoping to build a great resume or portfolio. If you need a website designed or brochures made, consider hiring someone in college to do this, or working with a start up company. I tend to work a lot with mothers who are starting companies and hoping to save; other designers that I know work with start ups in general, who need to save money but still need to purchase marketing materials. Chances are there is a company out there who needs to work with YOU, regardless of your budget, so keep your eyes open and keep looking.
Don’t settle. Make sure that the person you choose to make your marketing materials is sound and can provide references. I can’t tell you how many people I have worked with who first worked with someone else that did not pan out and provide what they promised. Always check references. Anyone can say they can do X, Y, Z for nothing, but unless you check to make sure they are really reputable, chances are you will HAVE nothing in the end. Remember the old adage: If it sounds too good . . . well, need I say more?
Also, if it is free and looks cheap, that’s no good. People are experts in certain fields for a reason: They know what works. Web designers know how to optimize your site, from keywords to graphics to content. Graphic artists know what catches the eye, and they know about things like typography.
Remember, you have to spend some money to make some money. Understand this, and then figure out where you most need to spend the money for your best return.