If you’re a skilled, self-employed tradesman whose business has slowed in recent years, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
· Is my trade still in demand in my community?
· Could I be marketing my skills more effectively?
· Would it be worthwhile to retrain for another trade?
Taking on a different trade is a big transition that requires research and planning. Assessing these points will help you determine whether a major career change is right for you.
Identifying Trades Needed In My Area
You’ve probably already noticed if demand for your services has decreased, but a few factors can help you determine whether you’re simply in a slow period or need to make a big change for the long haul. There are a number of different ways to identify which trades might be needed in your local community. Get started by checking out the following resources:
You can find these by Googling ‘(Your City) Jobs’ (e.g. ‘Amarillo Jobs’). This will usually bring you to several searchable community job boards. Alternatively, you could go to an employment site like Monster.com and search for jobs available within a certain radius of your city. The more jobs you see, the higher the demand is for that trade. Your local paper is also likely to have online job listings.
Look at large local employers’ websites
Find the websites of your community’s largest employers and most will feature a “Careers” tab. The great thing about going this route is that large employers may actually provide or reimburse you for any training, education, or certification you need if they believe you will be a good employee. This is a great way to transition into a new trade.
Local unions or trade organizations
If you need additional skills for a trade that is in demand, these organizations will sometimes offer apprenticeship programs that can get you the skills you need. You will work under a master in your trade at a reduced rate of pay while you gain valuable training and experience.
Local community colleges are excellent resources for trade-based education. These schools are in the business of getting students skills and finding them jobs. If your community college offers training in a specific area then there is a good chance that the skill is needed in your community.
Finding New Prospects
If you’ve taken the plunge into a new trade and need to build up a client base from scratch, or if your skills are still in demand but your business has grown slow or stagnant, think about whether you’ve done enough to market yourself. In this increasingly digital age, the importance of an effective website cannot be overstated. Everyone needs the services of skilled tradesmen at some point and most people in your community will go to Google to find them.
If your trade is still in demand, you need to do everything you can to help these potential customers find you. Simply building a website is no longer enough (although if you still don’t have a site that should be your first priority); you need to optimize your page to make it user friendly and search engine-optimized. Utilize these tips to make your site more effective at reaching customers:
- List a phone number at the top of your homepage in big easy-to-read print.
- Offer a convenient online appointment calendar.
- Utilize popular keywords to improve your page’s search engine ranking.
- Apply for a Google Plus account. These are the local results that you see at the top of a Google search.
- Help customers find your business by displaying Google map directions.
- Ensure your site is mobile-friendly and offer a click-to-call button.
- Have three well-defined calls to action on your home page (e.g. ‘Contact us for a no hassle consultation’ or ‘Apply online and receive 10% off’).
Consider Making YouTube videos
Making a brief, well-produced YouTube video demonstrating how to fix a common problem will showcase your practical knowledge about your industry and help you build an image as helpful and knowledgeable. Don’t forget to include your business’s name and contact information at the beginning and end of the clip.
• Wrap your vehicle
If you’re in a service that requires you to be on the road all day in a truck or car, get noticed with a customized vehicle design that features your brand name and phone number, and maybe a memorable image. It is a great way to get noticed and build your brand.
While changing trades mid-career can feel like a daunting task, a holistic understanding of the industry and strong marketing strategy will put you in command of your new skill set in no time. Why remain stuck in a career track that offers little financial growth or personal fulfillment? Make the change today!
This Post has been written by Sara Collins
Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping consumers find the best balance transfer offers.