Doing it better

I confess, despite my general optimism, I'm in a bit of a funk with the whole unemployment thing. Although I knew my job was ultimately a dead-end, it was at least a steady paycheck and food on the table. I'm terrified at the thought of being a disappointment to my girlfriend, though she's been incredibly supportive.

I'm now making a full-blown effort to establish myself as a freelance trainer, something that I had tried years ago but lacked the client base, experience and knowledge to pull off. I've created a website and corresponding Facebook page, and I'm using a targeted ad campaign to hit local potential clients. On the downside, I don't have any leads from the site from day one. But on the upside, in its first day it's had over 300 visitors and I nabbed over 50 fans on Facebook. That's not a bad start.

Looking at the stats, I realized something. There's really no more job security working for someone else. In my previous job there had been several slumps over the years where I really struggled to get by. I always thought those slumps were in no small part due to the fact that my boss was horrible at advertising – he was fixated on 'outbound marketing' like mailers, cold calling, and emails. He used a 'sell hard' style where everything was loud and verbose, and filled with grand promises and money-back guarantees.

For a high-end industry like personal training, that always struck me as the exact opposite of how to advertise. You're dealing with reasonably well-off, educated people. The money should never be an issue for potential clientele; if it is, you're talking to the wrong people. That's why I'm a fan of 'inbound marketing', where you use your website and social media to help people find you. Outbound marketing is predicated on the hope that you'll hit a needle in a haystack – the right person, the right product, the right time. Inbound marketing gives people the tools to educate themselves and connect with you, so that you're always talking to qualified leads.

I always looked at the way my boss did things and thought, That's so stupid... I could do better! Well... now I have the chance. While in a sense it's a little scary, in another sense it's no less scary than being at the mercy of a business whose owner can't market worth a turd. And while I have a ways to go, I'm encouraged by my first day. Maybe, just maybe, I can pull this off.

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