Freelancer, remote worker and budding entrepreneur: These worker demographics are only growing. In fact, a 2017 study by MBO Partners showed that, in the U.S. alone, the number of self-employed workers stood at 40.9 million, or about 31 percent of the American workforce. They predict that by 2022, half of the U.S. workforce will be working independently. And these figures didn't even include workers employed by a company but working remotely.
The bottom line? There are a lot of people out there who are working somewhere that is not a traditional office. Many in their homes, some in libraries and coffee shops, and many as digital nomads, traveling the globe while they work.
Every new phenomenon brings with it other opportunities. And the gig economy is no different. The great opportunity here is the coworking space. All over the world, smart entrepreneurs are busy acquiring physical spaces for independent workers to use as their remote offices. They have seen the demand and they provide the supply.
Consider the many reasons why independents find coworking spaces so attractive:
Veronica Wright, CEO of ResumesCentre has this to say about the needs of independent workforces: “Our company employs professionals from all geographic locations. They work in all sorts of physical environments. But I have found that those who are most productive have taken advantage of coworking spaces. They seem happier, more content, and certainly more mentally alert.”
With any new business comes the need to market products or services to target audiences, and, in the case of a coworking space, the audience is highly specialized. The basic principles of marketing apply, of course. You will need to determine where your target audience is, what their needs are, and then explain how you will meet those needs.
Marketing a coworking space is far more than simply placing ads stating you have office space for rent. You have to develop a content marketing strategy, which appeals to the needs of clients. Furthermore, you want to show that there is value in what you offer, that you are trustworthy, and that you have a sincere concern for their needs. You do this by creating content — content that fosters relationships, trust and demonstrates uniqueness in an increasingly crowded marketplace. And don't neglect traditional forms of marketing, either; make sure to advertise locally.
Don’t skimp on this. You need a sleek site that provides engaging content and amazing visuals. It may need to be professionally designed. Obviously, you should also have testimonials from current or past renters. These need to be genuine, and visitors can tell when they're not. Providing references with contact information is ideal, if you can get them.
Your website should be simple, easy to navigate and in line with your other business practices. If you value minimalism in your space, your site should reflect that. If you value a high-design environment with lots of personality, add a little flair to your page. The more thought you put in, the better.
Independent workers have problems to solve; they want to feel like they’re part of a community facing the same challenges. There are many topics of interest to this community, like business growth ideas, new technology and networking, to name a few. But if you have a blog, it must be well-maintained. This means that you will spend a lot of time generating topic ideas and crafting engaging articles that your audience will want to read and share. If you feel that a blog is too challenging, then contract it out.
Fiverr is an online marketplace for freelance services where you can find great writers without having to spend too much or search very long. FlashEssay began as an academic writing service, but has expanded into all sorts of business writing, including the maintenance of blogs. Freelancer features freelancers (shocker) from every niche, including copywriting. GetGoodGrade is yet another writing service with experience in all types of copywriting services. They also design websites, create social media profiles, and maintain business postings. Both your website and blog should be optimized for search engines, so make sure the team behind the blog understands SEO.
You need a strong presence on as many platforms as possible, especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Use as many original visuals and videos as possible in your posts. You can also follow related niche accounts and begin to network and engage people in those areas who will mention or even refer you. Be sure to use targeted Facebook ads, which you can localize for where your workplace is.
One thing that will set you apart from your competition is to feature members on your social media platforms. This helps to promote their unique businesses and fosters a sense of community within the workplace. Post as many pictures on Instagram as possible, but don't go overboard and cause people to get sick of your content. Purchase sponsored Instagram posts, too. You can also play around with creating your own hashtag.
4. Perks and benefits
One of the ways to get a competitive edge and to spread your marketing efforts is to offer special perks and benefits to both new and current members. One really successful perk is to offer rent/membership fee discounts for referrals.
Another proven perk is to offer free days once or twice per month. This gets potential members in to experience your space. Hold open houses every so often, maybe even with a happy hour networking event. People will always respond to free food and drinks, which might make them even more likely to make the choice to join your space.
Freelancers work odd hours, usually by choice. But some who have international clients may have to work in the middle of the night. If you can manage 24/7 operations, you will become valuable to more prospects, especially ones who work for companies in another time zone.
Offering things like day care and a group insurance plan are big draws. If you do offer any of these “extras,” be sure that you are promoting them everywhere. These can solve some big issues for potential members.
Christopher Mercer, CEO of Citatior, has only remote working staff. He speaks to the importance of benefits this way: “We try to help our staff find coworking spaces. We look first for standard resources, like a good physical environment, reliable and fast Internet, plenty of equipment (faxes, printers, phones, media studios, etc.) Next, we look for the extras—these are the things that can tip a coworking facility over the edge for us.”
This list of six strategies should get you started. Above all, remember this: You’re offering a valuable service. If you can make it more valuable than your local competition, you will fill up and stay full.
Author Bio: James Scott is an independent blogger and a marketing consultant to small businesses. He is especially passionate about team building and management, having run his own company for a number of years. His key to a successful team? Delivering the best possible working experience and environment.