This is Alex and Mike with Sage Digital Agency, sharing insights about digital marketing with our special guest, Nov Omana, CEO and founder of Collective HR Solutions. He’s an HR technology expert with experience in the HR and tech arena for more than 40 years. Nov is known for his thought leadership and understanding of combining and leveraging technology, with a reputation for connecting the dots between technology and to create new solutions to solve business problems. He is a certified human resources information professional since 2010 and the winner of the prestigious IHRIM Summit Award.
We’re in a unique situation in world history. Many people are either laid off, and many who still have jobs are definitely working from home. So, we’re sharing some insights about trends in the workforce in the new gig economy from the perspective of Human Resource Technology.
What will the gig economy look like in the very near future?
In the world of HR, we are seeing so many people wanting to become independent contractors. People want to control their work, going where they want and exploring what they want to do.
We’re going to see people thinking, “I worked from home and it really wasn’t that bad. And in fact, it was kind of nice. I like that idea of I can control my environment. What if I had some other things to do and revenue coming in?”
We’re finding that we’re going to end up soon with something that looks like the eBay world of contracting. In other words, you’re going to put yourself out there and say, “I can do X, Y, and Z.” You may have some reviews about that from trusted friends and clients. You may have an online portfolio of work.
But you’re not simply putting your resume out there for people to read like in the old days. You’ve got to put some meat behind this thing to say, “This is what I can do for you.” You need to make a real effort to stand out from the crowd.
- How do I leverage my exposure in the internet world and not get lost in the shuffle?
- Where would I start? What should I concentrate on? What is the first step? What are the considerations when I’m trying to create this internet presence?
- Should I create a website that lets me wave my hand in the internet world and say, “Come see me?” Does it need to have components like comments, reference-ability, reviews, etc.? Should I be on social media? What are the best platforms today?
- How do I sell myself on the internet in this gig economy?
Well, it depends on your industry and skill set. Let’s say you’re an HR specialist. How can you properly market this particular skill set to a greater audience outside of who you currently know?
First, if there is currently a website or platform that speaks specifically to HR professionals working freelance? If there is, certainly create a profile and put yourself out there. Alternatively, maybe a website is in need. Then again, you might accomplish your goal by building one or two landing pages instead of a full website.
Maybe a specific landing page can be created that outlines all the benefits of working with you. Then you could spend some targeted ad dollars on a platform like Google ads or Facebook or LinkedIn to bring clicks to your landing page.
The ads could say, “Are you looking for X, Y, and Z? If so, click here.” We can drill down deeper with a couple different landing pages, then show targeted information to each prospective customer.
You could use social media links to a landing page or website that describes the benefits of hiring you. It would provide an opportunity to connect with people who otherwise you wouldn’t have come across. The idea is to build up an internet presence that will differentiate you from others. If you cut yourself in with an association of people like you, find a way to stand alone.
Who Should I Target as My Clients?
As a freelancer, as the person entering the gig economy, you need to get a very clear picture on who you provide the most value for. That’s going to set the foundation for any marketing effort, how you design your website, what you put on the website, how you run ads, who gets targeted, etc.
Before focusing on your freelance gig, you need to have a clear understanding of who your best client is. Obviously, the advice would be different if we were factoring in someone who just got laid off, or who is in desperate need of money. But if you have the space to choose your clients, be discerning.
If it’s not the right fit, then you should understand when to say no. And to do this, you need to know who is, versus who isn’t, the right client for you. This factor is certainly going to set the tone on how successful you are as a freelancer.
Also, it’s going to set the tone for how successful your marketing efforts are. You need to be able to devote enough time, have the correct expertise, and have a clear understanding of the scope of work. If not then — regardless of the marketing — the gig itself isn’t going to work out, and the referral isn’t going to come back to boost up more gigs.
It really is a two-way relationship. It’s not, “I’m a freelancer getting hired by another company.” It’s, “I’m partnering with and working with another company.”
A mistake many new freelancers make is that they never take the time to understand who they provide a value to. They just know, “I’ve got a lot of skills. I’m sure if I just wave a flag on some platform, they’re going to come flocking to me.” That’s not how it works in the real world.
The core question of a freelancer should be, “Who do I want as my client?” After you can answer that, then put an imaginary persona together. Think of a specific person or type of person who you wish would call you in response to an ad. You should be able to write down on one sheet of paper who this person is, what type of business their in, what their needs and frustrations are, who they are currently going to for their needs, why it’s not working for them, etc.
Only after you understand who you want as a client, can you ask, “What kind of services can I provide to make their life better or easier?” You’ve got to know who you’re selling to and what you’re providing before you can sell and market it.
Should I Accept Every Job Offer I Get?
Freelancers who are just getting started often think they have to say yes because someone offered them a job. When at the end of the day, if you’re doing remote work, able to work from anywhere, then you have so many options to choose from. You’re not limited to working only within the businesses within your city or your state or the country.
Oftentimes clients will approach us for certain types of projects or ad spends, but if we don’t think we can drive the right type of value or we don’t think that it’s the right type of fit, often we’ll find someone who’s a better fit for them. And that’ll pass business to other people.
Let’s say you’re an accountant and looking to get hired. So, you might start by thinking about past experience or what you could excel at or what you have time to apply for. A bookkeeper who is going to do work for an eCommerce company is going to have a very different skill set than a bookkeeper who’s going to do work for an HVAC company.
If it’s your first job and you’re right out of college, you probably wouldn’t focus on an accounting job for a national franchise restaurant. You’d probably look for a smaller business, something you can really do well for. Maybe it’ll turn into a long-time permanent position or maybe it’ll help escalate you to your next job.
Should I Create a Personal Website or Landing Page?
The goal is not to create a website that’s extra flashy where you’re spending a lot of money and time to create something that isn’t going to serve the purpose of bringing the right client. You simply need to speak in a way they’re going to understand.
First, let’s see what we need to create first. Do we need a full-blown website? Instead of allowing a customer to get lost on a big site with a whole bunch of content, would it be enough to have a landing page? (To clarify, a landing page is a one-page simple site that is about information and essentially more than anything else, it’s about conversion.) Check out our blog post about what is a landing page for more information on this topic!
Let’s say we’re going to spend some money on Google ads or some other platform to generate traffic. Sometimes, it’s better to just send them to a one pager that says, “Hey, here’s who I am. This is what I’m offering. Call me now for this particular special.”
Second, do we have the time to develop something? Maybe it’ll take 30 or 60 days to develop a full-blown site for a small- or medium-sized business. But that may not apply to this individual or this small startup during this particular time.
Oftentimes a landing page is a good option, because then you can put that marketing money directly towards ads. That way, we can generate revenue for you as soon as possible. We can get the phone ringing and get emails coming in right away.
Why Should I Start with a Landing Page?
The major reason landing pages are so valuable is that you can really use them almost as a proof of concept. Before you invest into a business or a specific vertical, if you have a skill set that you think will work, why not test your assumptions? You could build out two or three landing pages, then market them very differently and see what sticks.
Maybe you go into it thinking, “I want to do X job,” but you find there’s not much demand or you’re not able to get enough money or the work doesn’t come in fast enough. You can then pivot and try to find something that’s going to be faster growing. You can have a different landing page that markets your skill set differently.
What Should My Landing Page Look Like?
People often overthink the importance of the actual design itself and they don’t put enough thought into the content. The content is really what needs to be delivered.
If you’re one business trying to sell to another business, how you market a specific product is going to be very different than if you were trying to sell directly to a consumer. And if your skill set is versatile enough that you can sell to both businesses and consumers, then the content and how you market the websites are going to be very different.
Landing pages are a very valuable asset. You can make multiple landing pages, they don’t cost a fortune, they’re very quick to produce. You can use them to see what’s gaining traction and then focus on those specific areas.
Maybe if you have a passion project or you want to test another focus or another vertical, you can apply that landing page and market it at a slower rate and it’s not a loss.
You’re not spending 30 to 60 days or X amount of dollars to build a website, just to find out down the road your business model doesn’t work. And what’s going to be worse than that? If you’re not working, not getting income, and now you spent all this money on a website that doesn’t work?
When you talk about a landing page, do I need to have a domain name?
Yes, you will need a domain name, for example myname.com. We’re going to go into a registrar, GoDaddy.com or something like that and acquire a $15 per year name that will be specific to the site we create.
Can you explain a little bit about what that marketing looks like?
If we’re going the landing page route, we want to do something tactical. We want to create something that is specific to the services of this particular freelancer. We’re going to dive deep with them and ask, “What really are you doing? What services are you really offering? What benefit are you offering?” And we need to extract that info and highlight it from a 30,000-foot view on any landing page or any content we create.
For example, somebody is not going to hire me because I’m a WordPress developer. They’re going to hire me because I’m going to generate a website that will bring leads to their business.
Can I take those landing pages and then create a more robust website now that I’ve gotten lots of engagements?
Our platform where we landing pages is no different than the platform where we build full-blown websites.
So, let’s say you started with one landing page to see if we can prove the specific concept. We can take that and call it Phase One. And if we saw after some time that it has been successful thing so far, then we could improve it into a full-blown website with more content about services, which would be Phase Two.
Why Would I Pay for Ads?
Let’s say there’s a website for HR technology freelancers that exists, and it’s a marketplace where potential employers can go and find people to hire. One of the biggest problems is that you’re definitely getting lost among all the other people.
When you’re talking about paid search or spending some money on social media platforms in order to generate traffic to a landing page, these people, they’re seeking you out, so to speak. You’re not lost among the 50,000 other people that are there. You have an opportunity for a brief moment in time to show who you are and what you can provide at its core very quickly to somebody. If they accept, it’s a beautiful process, right? They didn’t know who you were. They saw an ad that resonated. They clicked on the ad. They decided to email or pick up the phone. It’s really an amazing thing.
A freelancer who’s building out a landing page or a micro site or a website needs to use it as a version of their resume because that’s what potential employers are going to look at. So, you’re going to have your background and your history and your experience and some reference comments, and it really is a modern version of a resume.
It should include;
- something about who you are
- why you do this
- what you get out of it
- the passion you have for the specific skill set or industry
- some content about the projects you’ve done before
Now, there may be limitations if there are confidentiality or non-compete agreements in place, but you could have general case studies or specific usages of how you’ve helped companies grow.
At the end of the day, no one’s going to hire a freelancer for their skill set. Many other freelancers have the same exact skill set as you. Instead, they will hire you based on what value they believe they can get out of your skill set that will benefit them.
And unlike a resume, where the rule is that you need to limit it to one or two pages, you can fit so much more content on a landing page if it’s designed well. You’re going to have the chance to keep that reader engaged as they’re scrolling and scrolling down and finally, they get to the bottom.
With a resume, employers get boring white paper with the black ink, where someone might put a little funky design that’ll catch their attention for two seconds before they’re onto the next one. But a landing page or website is going to keep them engaged.
Let’s say you’re a graphic designer and you’re looking for freelance work. The experience level doesn’t necessarily matter as much because the work is so creative. Some people are great graphic designers after watching some YouTube tutorials and getting six months of experience. Other people are not so good even after getting by for 10 years. Either way, you’re still going to have your portfolio, so you’re going to be able to prove what you’ve done.
When we look for specific freelancers, whether it’s a medical content writers to write content for a doctor, or if we’re looking for a specific graphic designer that understands how to do certain types of illustrations, we’re going to go on and we’re going to see what they’ve done before. And being able to have a landing page with valuable content, not filler text, that’s probably the thing that drives me the most nuts is when someone has a landing page or a website and it’s filled with the same content that you get everywhere. That doesn’t actually deliver any value, that doesn’t say what you’ve done or how you’ve done it or resort actual thought provoking articles. They fill it just to fill it just so they have something, but at the end of the day, if you can go in and read paragraph by paragraph and strip out 90% of it, that 10% is all that they really need. And again, instead of putting so much thought into the design or what you have that’s the content or thinking for days about a domain name, none of it really matters. You need to have a minimal viable product to get it out there and then you can make changes. You don’t like the domain name, fine. You can get another one. They cost $15, not a big deal.
You get started with a website, you figure out what’s missing as people start asking you questions, you can add to it. The important part is to really have the meat and potatoes of what you do and how it will help another business because that’s what they’re going to be looking for. I often see the landing pages get filled up with crazy designs, user experiences that are hard to navigate. You can’t figure out where the menu is and it just takes away from the core skills that this freelancer wants to do. If they put less time and thoughts into trying to build something themselves, have someone who knows how to build converting websites, do it, they can put their time into either marketing the website or doing what they’re trying to get for the freelance gigs.
If I were a brand new gig economy entrant into this world, there is hope that I don’t have to spend weeks to figure out how to make this happen. I’ve got a resume, I probably have it all the time and ready to go and it’s got content and in that content is a lot of things that says I’ve done this, and I’ve had this impact on my employer when I did that. That is selling. That is what people are going to get. Converting that over and putting it into a website is what you guys do so well, but it means that I don’t have to wait for weeks to have something is viable. That is hope. I think if we have given hope to the gig economy.
Unfortunately, hope is not a strategy, so let’s touch on the actual strategies of marketing this website. Depending on the vertical…You have to figure out as the freelancer, what do I value? What can I afford? How do you allocate time? Because there’s a balance between what you can do yourself for free and what actually costs money. Now, if you’re busy and you don’t have time then hopefully you have money to invest to start building your own business. If you don’t have work, then you have time and that time you can apply to organic channels that are not paid placements and you can market it that way. And every vertical is going to be different in who you market to and how. I think the first question that we often get is how much is it going to cost? And that’s a very open ended question. It’s like how much does a car. You can get a car for $2,000 and you can get a car for $250,000.
Now, the first question is how are you going to market it? Who are you marketing it to? And at that point you can begin to figure out the right channels, the right type of content to promote. We can run ads for anything, highlighting specific projects. Let’s say you’re a software developer, you develop medical software and that’s what you’ve been doing for the last 10 years. If you’ve been developing medical software for the past 10 years, then there’s going to be specific points and whether it’s HIPAA compliance or a specific coding language that you would want to market, you can market to a very specific skill-set of who would actually hire you. You could market directly to the HR managers, whether you’re targeting them on LinkedIn or you’re running ads on Facebook or Google or paid placements in specific marketplaces.
There’s a vast number of ways, but for most people who are very cash strapped and on a budget, wanting to see if this freelance gig thing will take off for them, I would first start with who’s in your actual network. Because that’s not going to cost you anything, you’re going to go through your phone, you’ll go through your LinkedIn, your Facebook, and you’ll see who could I do some work for that’s going to get value. And the cool part about this is you’re not limited to only people who are hiring managers as a traditional job. You could reach out to people who are in the same line, the same vertical work that you used to do. Again, let’s use a software developer, I can market myself to other software developers who might know someone who needs an extra hand for a couple of weeks at coding a new feature. In, you’re out, you know the language and you made a paycheck.
Whether it’s a full time thing that people are using the freelance gig for or a part time side hustle, there’s not a right or wrong answer, but once you have that website, you can start within your network that you can already reach out to and that doesn’t cost anything. Now, if you want to start talking about email marketing, let’s go with email marketing. Email marketing is a great way. If you already have the contacts, it doesn’t have to be a massive list. People get this thing that I need 10,000 people on my email list. You don’t because I’d rather have 900 people who read my emails every single week than 10,000 people that just push it to spam. It’s not going to do anything. Building up a quality email list of people in the industry or potential hiring managers and sending them valuable, relevant content, that doesn’t take anything but time.
You build up your list, you can use dozens of email service providers that you can get started with for free and you slowly build up your list of valuable content and you send a message once a week. And if that person who maybe they’re not ready to hire you today, maybe it’s in three months, four months, two weeks, who knows? They’re going to start to remember, I get this newsletter with actual insights and valuable content that helped me do my job better or let me see this side of the business that I didn’t really understand or explaining complex principles in a easy, digestible way and now I’m ready to hire. Who am I going to go to? I’m not going to spend my time trying to sort through resumes. I’m going to go with this person who I already somewhat know. Email’s a great way. It’s very inexpensive and it’s very effective. Email for many businesses are still driving the highest amount of revenue.
Then you have paid ads. And paid ads, whether it’s on Google or YouTube or Facebook and Instagram, it’s paid placement, it’s no different than a billboard. You’re paying for a specific placement. When you get involved with marketing a specific person or a skill-set, it’s really about creating engaging content. Let’s say I was a freelancer and I’m trying to get a gig to do paid advertising for a company. I could sit down on my computer, do a screen record and break down complex ways to set up ad campaigns, put that video online and then run ads to it and target people who I know would be looking for someone to run ads. Perhaps business owners, they might be in the neighborhood trying to figure out how to do ads. They spent three hours trying to figure it out. They can’t concepts of Google ads. They see my video breaking it down real easy. Great.
I gave them content. Some people, especially when they just get into this gig economy, they think, I can’t give away my secrets. And I got news, for 99% of the things out there, whatever they think that they’re hiding their secret sauce, if you will, it’s for free on YouTube. It’s just who’s going to execute it better. Me building out an ad campaign, it’s not rocket science. I just know how to do it very well and I’ve been doing it for a long time. So, I know how to find the keywords. I know what keywords are going to be relevant. I know what ad copy is going to work. Google will break that down for you step by step on how to build an ad campaign.
But are you going to get the same type of returns as you are going to go with someone who knows how to do it well? No, most likely not. For what it would take for me to break down how I would do it, it’s not rocket science, it’s not some proprietary intellectual property that I can’t give away. It’s the same content that you can get from someone else, but that could provide a lot of value, save someone from a lot of headaches could save someone time and at that point maybe they want to have a phone call. It’s not that it’s going to sell. People think that Google Ads is some sort of ATM that you’re going to put $1,000 into ads and you’re going to get 10 grand out of it. It doesn’t work that way. You’re going to put your ads out. If it’s done correctly, the right person is going to find your ad. They’re going to click on it and if they like what they see, they’ll give you a call. There’s still effort that someone has to take to be able to call and close the deal out from a sales side, but you can get very granular. Again, it’s going to be who do you want to target.
You’ve given us some really insightful perspectives. My personal feeling is this. You’re the right people to come to, or people like you, to help me take what I know in my current world, i.e. resume, my thinking, my skill-sets and all that stuff and put it into something. Are you in the position to guide me step by step? Are you the people that work with me very closely or am I going to follow a guide that you’re going to send to me and then I’ll contact you when I’m ready? The reason I ask that is because many people getting into this world are going to need to be held by their hand, literally. Maybe a little insights on how you guys do your business?
First and foremost, from a 30,000 foot view, there’s two ways that we can approach this. It’s the done for you way or it’s the we will educate you and walk with you and train you to do it on your own, or some hybrid of the two. And I think that’s really the point. The answer is certainly every scenario is different. Every person’s needs are different. We’re certainly not going to create some standard PDF and send it to somebody and say, good luck to you. Here you go. That’s certainly not the case. Mike, if you’d please weigh in and your thoughts on this.
I completely agree. Whether you’re a person or a small business and you’re looking to use your skill-set in another capacity to reach other people.,We could put together any, like Alex said, a done for you package. We could outline a plan or we could do some combination of, let’s say you have some time on your hands. You could do maybe the social media aspect yourself and we’d be happy to facilitate the email marketing.
Yes. With your guidance though, Mike, for sure. Give a good example. People sitting at home right now that have more time to do this, nothing is better than conversational content, just like what we’re doing now with this particular podcast. Let me just mention this to our listeners. What are we going to do? We have this podcast that’s going to run about an hour or so. I’m going to be able to transcribe that into a blog format and that can become really great content that we have on our website for our viewers to read or to listen to via the podcast and for Google to recognize that we’re talking about this particular stuff on our podcast. So again, if it was me, I would say that a person that has the time should certainly try to create content because, hey, they’re the subject matter experts, not anybody else. And to help guide them down a path that will say, hey, here are the deliverables that you should probably focus on over the next week. And in conjunction with, as Mike said, doing some of the higher level stuff, more technical stuff, the learning curve is much higher. Mike, am I speaking correctly on this?
You are spot on. We really need to be able to hone in and focus on what you’re able to do best in any capacity.
Again, the novice is not going to know the path they’re going to take, but they’ll certainly know what the destination is when you finish it. I like that [inaudible 00:33:05]. I’m the content expert and I know me and I’m going to ask you to give me the tools and then you’re going to show me where to go to build a house fuel, but I’ve got the land. I got the knowledge, I know exactly what I’m going to do with it, I just don’t know what it looks like right this moment. You’re going to help me figure that out.
We will architect that plan for you.
The nice thing about this type of strategy is it can be a very agile strategy, as in it can change really at any point. You’re not actually committed. Unlike building a house, once you lay that foundation, you really can’t change where you’re going to put that plot of concrete because it’s already laid down. With this strategy, whether you commit to building a landing page or starting an email funnel, if it doesn’t work or you don’t like it or you decide you want to pivot it, you’re not really obligated into anything. It can really be changed at any point.
I think flexibility is part of the key. I would want to expend my money, limited as it may be in the starting, wisely. But I also don’t want to say that it’s a throw away and what you just said there means it is not a throw away.
It can be re-purposed and as I said, if it’s just a landing page that we then build out into another site, if it’s content that’s been created, we can be repurposed into other things. And Mike has said this in the past too, and he used the analogy of the billboard, this is not something that’s pasted somewhere that cannot be changed for 30 days. If you can make real time adjustments, Michael can go into a Google Ads account or a LinkedIn account or Facebook, whatever it is and make real time adjustments to the strategy based on the results on the ground, so to speak.
you’ve given hope to the new gig economy. I know many people that ought to be listening to this, some people that are bumping out on their own and people that have been forced out to rethinking where they’re going next.
It has been a great pleasure. We enjoyed it. I would like to ask our listeners to please check out collectivehrsolutions.com, that is Nov’s website. And his Twitter handle is #hrtechxprt, we’ll make sure it’s in the comments. And Michael, thank you for your insights. We really enjoyed it.