Why not take a look in your local community to see where you could place small adverts or just a business card. Although its an “old school” way of marketing its worth a try as its so cheap and easy to do. There are plenty of online website where you can design your own business cards and posters, then have them printed relatively easily and cheaply. Make sure they look professional, as they are the beginning of your brand. Although your a home salon, they don’t want to look home made! Once you’ve got your fabulous new paperwork go everywhere you can think of locally and get them put up. In shops, on pin boards, the church, schools, village halls, the library, doctors surgery, anywhere that will have you frankly! Obviously ask permission and you may have to pay a small amount, but you’ll be surprised how helpful people often are.

Poster or Business Card

They will get to see your posters/business cards in these busy locations and the information will log in the back of their brain somewhere. People are generally nosy and interested (in a good way) and it all goes to help your brand recognition. Next time they see one of your cards or speak to somebody that’s had a treatment from you or need the treatment you provide, it’ll hopefully fire off in their brain and you’ll be remembered. Go on, get people talking.

These are free advertising sites, which are all over the World Wide Web. They ultimate would like you to pay for your business to be listed with them, but this is not usually necessary as they tempt you in with a basic free listing to start off with. Just always make sure you check the terms and conditions and don’t add any bank details, so you don’t get caught out and end up paying for something you didn’t expect too. A good plan is to keep a note somewhere of where you have opened an account and listed yourself. Unfortunately this isn’t something that I did, so I had to go back and find them again a few months later (keep updating them every so often to keep the traffic moving and update any changes). I’m sure there’s a few floating about that I haven’t seen for years!

Free websites

Add information about your business, put in as much detail as possible (opening times, what treatments you offer, contact details). Use attractive photos with links to your website, plus any social media pages that you are on. Remember this is your virtual “shop window”, the first place that people will come into contact with you. So make it as inviting as you can and be proud!

This can take quite a bit of time and effort, but remember once you’ve got one done, you’ll have a bit of a template to copy and paste on to other ones. The effort is to direct traffic across the web, you probably won’t get any physical clients from from doing this, but it’s the it’s the interaction between different social media and your website that helps to increase the activity. Lots of links, interaction and interest are what you are aiming for to help your website move up on the search engine ranking.

Generating business

I’ve added Tripadvisor in this group, even though its a bit different, it’s set up in a similar way. Its free to list yourself on, but I find I do get the occasional living breathing client finds me through Tripadvisor as its so popular for checking out local businesses. Because of this encourage any existing clients to give you a review on there, this builds trust and interaction with potential new customers. Go find those free ads and don’t be afraid to sing your own praises!

Social media can directly find you clients, but it also encourages interaction online and so helps your website rank higher on search engines. Love them or loath them,  the more you do on social media and point it towards your website the more traffic you will receive. When I first started I tried to post onto my Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and Google every few days (okay that didn’t always happen!) and YouTube occasionally. But over a six month period this really did seem to make a difference, just keep going and make it into a habit. YouTube is also worth posting onto, even just short clips will be seen by someone, somewhere and all that lovely interaction across social media will add up over time. Unfortunately social media platforms are always changing the way they work (algorithms), so they change the “goal posts” on who they show your posts, videos and photo’s to. The only way to attempt to keep up with this is by researching what is working at any given time and tweaking what you do.

Social media

The other side to social media is actually growing your ‘fan base’ online. Then some of these people (or their friends) might actually become your clients. If you already have lots of friends and follows then this makes your life easier, the connections are already there. If not you need to grow them yourself, which does takes time and effort. Interacting, liking and commenting on other peoples posts and photo’s helps you build relationships. Try to do this as often as you can and be genuine, it’s not difficult and actually feels nice to be positive and supportive to others. Share the love!

Getting busy online

Keep your posts professional, friendly and informative and try to add in lots of hints and tips that are relevant to your business. You don’t want pictures of you drunk on a night out on your business pages, think how potential customers are going to see it (remember this too makes up part of your “shop front” even though you haven’t got a real one). Try to use your own photo’s or if not you must use royalty free images from online (I use Pixabay quite a lot). There are various apps that you can use to help your posts look more professional, even ones to make video clips, which social media particularly loves. The more interaction you can get on your posts the better too, but you’re never quite sure how many news feeds your beautifully planned posts has actually been put on! It’s a fickle business and with algorithms always being changed, it’s a case of doing your research and trying to keep up with it all. Get posting😊.

Your home salon space can be anything from a carefully arranged corner in your front room, to a large converted garage (the thing of dreams for most people starting out). Everyone has to start somewhere and I’ve heard of very successful therapists starting in their kitchen, conservatory or utility room (that was me!) If you want to make it work, nearly anywhere is a possibility, but often the biggest obstacle isn’t the space, but the other people using it. So if you are thinking of opening your home to clients you might like to think about the following when it comes to your room placement:

  • How far from the front/side/back door is it? The closer the better, as this area really needs to be kept clear of clutter and as much as possible hides the “family life”.
  • Is there a toilet close by? Again if possible this needs to be close by so you don’t have clients having to walk through the rest of your home.
  • Kitchen smells. Its amazing how far smell can travel, even with doors closed and is something I’m always battling against. (Not always winning)
  • If its a shared space can it be depersonalized easily and could you use some sort of clever screening or storage?
  • Can you keep pets out of the space. Some people may love to meet your pets, but with more and more people having allergies its probably best to keep them separate.
  • Can you keep noise to a minimum in the space you choose? No one wants to hear the kids fighting in the next room!
  • Will other family members take you seriously and keep out of the space while its being used?

Tidy away mess and family life.

Wherever the space is that you decide to use, you need to make sure its clean, tidy and as much as possible free of family stuff. How can you give off a professional feel if you have old trainers in the hallway and kids toys in the corner? We all have these things, no-one is expecting perfection, but if you want to be taken seriously, get rid (or hide) the crap. Whether that’s all of the time or just when you know you have clients coming in, this is up to you and your family. It may be different if you only have the odd friend coming over for a treatment (more of a hobby) but if  you want people to take your business seriously and to be able to charge high street salon prices, then you need to portray a more professional image. But also don’t let this put you off getting started, you’e business will evolve over time. If the environment isn’t quite perfect, but you are good at what you do, then they will most probably be back again.

 

 

Clutter free space

Over the years I’ve had many different treatments in other therapists homes. They’ve all been lovely, bar one. This was for a £100 an hour therapist. When I arrived I was shown through an entrance filled with children’s paintings, shoes and coats. I had to wait in her kitchen while she finished making lunch for her small child (who was supposed to be at nursery), the toilet hadn’t been flushed (always a possibility with kids, I can sympathise) and there was a cat litter tray in the bathroom. Once we got to her room the treatment was good enough, but I really wasn’t impressed and felt like £100 was a lot of money for the environment I was in. Perhaps if the environment was fabulous or the treatment was outstanding, then I would of probably been back, but both were “okay”. See what I mean, you really don’t want clients leaving you feeling like I did.

For a long time I had a “free” website (with a few optional extras that I paid every month for). It looked quite pretty, was functional in the fact that if someone had my web address it had all the information needed on it. It took me hours and hours of tinkering and cost me a reasonable amount over the years, but just did not show up anywhere on search engines. Which in the end really defeats the whole object of a website. If it doesn’t get high on search engines (ultimately gaining you new clients) then all you have is a glorified online  leaflet or price list!

Sage Therapies website, my own little “shop window” of my business.

I thought I couldn’t afford a professionally made website, but ultimately, how much money did I waste on the “free” website, which got me zero new clients? In hindsight not a cost effective way of marketing at all, so don’t make my mistake. Eventually I saw the light (my partner insisted I get one and helped me find my “website man”). He made me a gorgeous website,  adding keywords, some SEO’s and “backstage stuff” that I don’t even begin to understand! I put together all the wording, got photo’s and videos together,  and thought of relevant keywords. Once the website went live I then added my new address to all my social media, any free ads I could find and linked to other business pages. Over a space of  3-6 months this all got me to the first page on Google, which was the ultimate aim. How Google works is changing and shifting all the time, so this isn’t a fool proof plan, but it worked well for me. If you find a good website designer, who also takes care of the SEO’s, then you can leave a lot of it to them, the professional.

World Wide Web

If you think about it, your website is like your shop front ( which you don’t have working from home) it gives potential clients a glimpse of your salon, treatments and personality through the design you choose. Think about the people you are hoping to appeal to as potential customers. If you are intending to break into the ever expanding male grooming market would a pretty french boudoir theme be most appropriate? Maybe not but if you are a nail technician specialising in nail art it could be perfect. Make sure its easy to navigate and that all the links work (it puts people off if they have to look for something). Every few months change a few things on your website, Google see’s this and knows that your still active. Speaking of which I need to add a few testimonials, change a couple of photo’s and tweak  my treatments page. There’s always some thing to add.