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Indie pro’s best business tips

*** Posted by Ann N. Videan, APR, videanunlimited.com ***
azICCT indie pros, Oct. 2010 ©Ann Videan

azICCT indie pros, L to R: Lindsay from City of Peoria, Stuart Robinson, Andy Ptacek, Sherry Butler, Mariane Maffeo, Ann N. Videan, Charlotte Risch Shaff, Mike Shaldjian, Peter Faur, Christine Marek, Laird Brown - Oct. 2010 ©Ann Videan

Hi, fellow independents, I run the Arizona Communicators & Creatives Tribe (azICCT, pronounced “AZ Iced Tea”) in Phoenix. We’re a group of indies who meet twice a month to connect and support one another.

When we meet, I ask each attendee to supply a business tip. I post these recommended resources, bits of practical advice, and other valuable best-practice ideas on our azICCT Facebook page after each meeting and I thought perhaps IPA members could also benefit from them here.So, read and reap from these recently provided tips:


You may charge up-front fees, if you prepare your client for it and explain why this is an important way for indies to manage their finances.

• You may raise rates more effectively if you:
– Provide an extra service that warrants a rate increase, so they see value in it for them. It must be something built into your processes, so they don’t just say, “I don’t want that extra service.”
– Give them enough time to make adjustments (mentally and operationally)
– Don’t raise them around holiday time

• For retainer clients:
– Tell them how many hours the retainer will cover per month.
– If they don’t use all those hours in a month, have an specific percentage number you agree to carry over and work the following month.
– If they use more hours in a month, have a set fee for the “overtime” hours, or agree to work fewer hour the next month to balance out the overage.


Need graphic design done at the rate of your choosing?
Ann Videan had good luck running a design contest on www.mycroburst.com for the cover of her novel and CD jewel case.

Want a basic WordPress seminar?
Bart Butler suggests contacting Paul Martinez (http://creativeops.com/2009/12/16/wordpress-workshop-in-phoenix/).

Be sure to reevaluate your, or your client’s, Internet Service Provider (ISP) when updating a Web site. Peter Faur says he recently moved his own site to Rackspace.com and can’t believe the increased speed and functionality. He also recommends Flickr’s The Commons (http://www.flickr.com/commons?GXHC_gx_session_id_=6afecb2055a3c52c) for free photos. Also mentioned: Dreamstime (http://www.dreamstime.com/).

Like to get text reminders you send to yourself?
Andy Ptacek suggests Betwext.com, which allows you to put the reminders on a timer and send to groups as well.

Want better SEO?
Christine Marek suggests finding the OCI rating on your Web site. That’s Online Commercial Intent, and here’s an article about it: http://www.seobythesea.com/?p=377

Want an easy way to catalog contact information from BlackBerry emails?
Jamie Sistek suggest Gwabbit.com, which takes the data right out of the message and into your Outlook database.

Do your clients have a great Web site to back up your PR messaging?
Sherry Butler reminds us all to make sure the face of the client online is professional and informational!

Do you have an online review written up to suggest to customers?
Marianne Maffeo says one misspelled or mediocre review can taint online searchers’ perception of your business. Give them some verbiage to point them in the right direction. They might even use the whole blurb.

Want a great place to meet and align with other indies or social media professionals nationwide?
Per Ann Videan, PRSA members would benefit greatly from rubbing shoulders with the Independent Practitioners Section members: http://www.prsa.org/Network/Communities/IPA/.
Plus, her favorite new hang-out for savvy social media experts is Chris Brogan’s ThirdTribe Marketing: http://thirdtribemarketing.com/.

Please feel free to add your own tips! We want to hear what’s working in other parts of the country apart from Phoenix… 😀

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