For about 7 days, I disappeared from the Internet scene.
And my online business came to a complete standstill. I was miserable, hopelessly insane with anger, confused, desperate to get back online because my business and my income depended fully on my Internet access. I was nothing without it. I am a virtual person and if I don’t go online for a day, I would raise HELL.
This is how important being online is to my business. And let me tell you how my freelance and work at home business works.
For starters, there’s the email. Gawd, I can’t live without my email. I communicate with my sister, father and aunts via email. I talk and gossip with my good friends over email. I communicate religiously with my clients over email. Without email, I don’t have a voice.
For a freelancer who is working from home, like me, using the email to communicate with clients, customers, friends and relatives is not unknown. In fact, I would advice freelancers and work at home parents to use emails liberally, even if you’re just using one of those free email accounts from Yahoo!, MSN, GMail, or Hotmail…. whatever it is, it’s important for a work at home business person to maintain constant contact with his or her customers. It’s best that you respond to emails within 24 – 48 hours. Anything slower than that, you’ll be regarded as a snail-mailer or unresponsive or not committed.
Let’s take things a step up – instant communication doesn’t only involve communicating over email. For those of you who have not tried out either Yahoo! Messenger or MSN Messenger, you’re missing out on a whole lot here! You can use the Messenger service to communicate LIVE with your clients and customers and discuss things completely fee-free on the Internet. It’s not as good as making a phone call but if both of you can type relatively fast, using the MSN or Yahoo! Messenger is very effective. Not only are you able to send short (or long) messages to each other instantly, you can also talk to each other using the voice conference facilities or the webcam tool.
To me, the Messenger service is as important as my email.
Without Internet access, I, obviously, was unable to update my website. I update my website with articles, tips and tricks on a daily basis and if I don’t do that, I might as well be out of the freelancing scene. I consider my website, http://www.marshamaung.com and http://www.creativejooz.com as important marketing vehicles for my business. Through the website, I am able to bring attention to my services and products very subtly by driving traffic in with useful tips, resources, articles and other information. Despite being a Graphic Designer who can and have designed physical brochures and flyers for others and myself, my website remains to be one of the most important marketing tools for me.
My voice conference room
I use the conference room that I have been using for the past 1 year to communicate, provide training, hold presentations and just TALK to my clients freely on the Internet. I obtained my voice conference room at an amazingly affordable price from http://www.ttcglobaltalk.com and I have been using them happily for ages. And when I was out of the scene, I had a dream about not being able to talk to my clients – EVER! Yes, I was desperate.
And I am now back online…I can’t tell you how thankful I am for it. Although I had to struggle and exchange ‘heated debates’ over the phone with the Internet service provider over here for the past week, I feel that I am now alive again and that my business is back on track.
Use online communication tools wisely because for a freelancer, it’s crucial.
Marsha Maung is a freelance graphic designer and writer who is working from her home in Selangor, Malaysia. She lives there with her husband, Peter and 2 sons, Joshua and Jared. Marsha is the author of ‘Raising Little Magicians', ‘No Products To Sell’ and other books. For more information on Marsha, please visit http://www.marshamaung.com and for her books, visit http://www.lulu.com/marshamaung