As my hiltmon.com blog takes off, I am starting to get emails from indie developers promoting their wares. This is great, I love getting them, looking at new products and helping out where I can. But many of them fail on the basics of presenting themselves as the professionals they are.
In this article, I will present a checklist of all the things you need as an indie to present yourself to strangers via email with some credibility.
Start with a Product or Service
You are what you do, not what you say. – C.G. Jung
The first thing we strangers want to know is what you do. If you make a product, we want to know all about the product. It needs a name, a one paragraph elevator pitch and a screenshot. That is what hooks us. Follow up with point-form details. Answer the question why I would want to use your product.
If it’s a service you offer, we want to know all about that too. Same deal, package it as a product. Give it a name, a one paragraph elevator pitch and follow with some great benefits of your service. Answer the question why I should want to use your service.
Present the pitch professionally, using good grammar, fonts and limited color. Then provide a link to your site for more information. Chances are, we’ll click it.
Have a Company or Trading Name
Who would you rather purchase something from: Hilton Lipschitz (that’s me) or Noverse LLC, A New York Company? The company, of course. A company name presents a professional image better than a personal name. If you have spent the money to establish a company, you are already telling people that you are serious.
Get your Company Domain Name
Having a company name is all good, but if your email comes from gmail.com or worse aol.com, you do not look professional. Hosting email on Google Apps is free, so there is no excuse not to do it.
Run up a web site on your domain. If you make products, put them on the home page. If you provide services, put them there first. Don’t use a canned web site if you can help it, people are sick of seeing the same Wordpress or Tumblr sites.
Make sure that there are at least the following other pages:
- About: We want to know who you are, what your company does and why you set it up.
- Contact: Give us the ability to contact you via email, phone, twitter, etc. We may never use it, but its nice to know we can get in touch.
- News or Blog: Have an updated feed of news about your company, product or services. One thing that always looks unprofessional is if your web site looks abandoned.
In the case of Noverse.com, much of what I do unfortunately is not publicly available, or if it is, it’s under the banner of another company. That’s why I decided to put the blog front and center and make the Services and Portfolio links be the first two at the top. The Hire Us link comes next, because it gets people to contact us.
We’re indies, we’re a community. We’re all learning, making mistakes and gaining experience. One of the great thing about indies is that we also share our knowledge and experiences with each other, through blogs and tweets. You may not think it, but your trials and tribulations, your failures and successes when shared help us all. So create a blog. If you write about your products and services, put it on your company web site, if you write about your passions or hobbies, create a personal blog.
Blogging not only tells us that you are still in the game, it also creates your voice, your personality, your image on the web. Your company may change, but you remain the same. People will remember you as you chop and change, having a consistent blog will help people move with you.
Do Support Right
Many indies focus on product, then on marketing and forget about the most important people they do business with, their existing customers. These people have already paid you money, use your product or have benefitted from your services. They deserve the best royal treatment. They also happen to be the best pool of people to spread the word about you, your company and your product.
So do support right. Have a prominent support link on your page, establish a support email address or use a third party site like fogbugz or desk.com to manage the process. Make sure you respond to every email and support call promptly and clearly.
One of the first things I look for when I see a new indie site is whether there is a support link or not.
The Social Thing
Grab your company and product name in all the social networks (if you can). Tweet your new articles and product releases. Share them on LinkedIN, Google+ and anything else that matters. You may not start out with many followers, but you need to build the history.
One thing I do is use twitter lists to monitor indie twitter accounts. These tweets do not appear in may main timeline (it’s busy enough) but I get to look at them at least once a day to keep up.
Get started now, register your company, grab a domain, setup your email and write your “Hello World” first blog post. Then share it with all of us.