It takes money to advertise. But advertising brings in clients.
That is the dilemma I am facing right now. My previously salaried Day Job (tm) has ended, now it is hourly as required + commission only. And to me, that means it is time to really, seriously try to build a full-time home planning and design studio for myself. My goal is to complete $3,000 worth of sales- about four individual sets of house plans- each month. That would easily allow me to work for myself, pay all bills (including Uncle Sam's 36% taxes), insurance, and save some too. It helps to have a house and a car that are paid for.
I have the website. I have the skills and tools and experience. I have plenty of time now- at most a quarter of my time will be devoted to the Day Job for the foreseeable future. But what I don't have is a solid idea of the best way to advertise my services- or how to convince clients that what I do is better than some online cookie cutter plan room.
I've tried craigslist, and in two years of ads in several markets (Houston-Galveston, Victoria, Austin, B-CS) not one client has come from there. I think it is safe to say you get what you pay for with craigslist. I've also tried the local want ads- Thrifty Nickel and American Classifieds. Again, much like craigslist: cheap, but did not generate even one client. I even took out four months of advertising in a local interest magazine with 44,000 subscribers. In four months, not one client. Now, you would think that one person in 44,000 would be building a house, especially in a tight housing market like we have here and a fairly good economy like we have here. Apparently not. My next venture is the local home products show, which a very successful entrepreneurial friend of mine highly recommends.
Outside of this, I am having a lot of trouble figuring out the best advertising bang for the buck. About the only things I haven't tried are online ads and billboards- both are prohibitively expensive right now. Does anyone have any insight they can share- either about good, economical ways to advertise my specific business or how to pay for advertising to being with?