DIY : To teach a poor man to fish – Don Michael – Medium

A few tips on framing an advertisement. I like to say a few things to establish the tone of the meeting.

  1. I like to meet and perform work the same day.

People often waste your time. Especially if carpentry is an offering. People want estimates, for free! Not a good use of a poor man’s time. Sometimes, a “customer” will call seeking your thoughts without an expectation to pay. It’s generally best to avoid these situations!

As a small time guy, I don’t try to compete with the big companies. I’m more interested in giving a great deal and getting paid quickly, work a few hours and walk away fairly with a hundred and call it a good day.

2. Always frame yourself as the small guy.

People like the underdog! Tell your story! Talk about your kids! I used to get a lot more work when I had a shiny face and a good story on family.

In the same vein, being the small guy let’s you tackle work that ordinarily no one would give to someone with no experience. Be nice!

For example, if a customer says — do this complex job! Sometimes the right answer is — it’s too much for me, but.. I can do a small part under the homeowners supervision. While they may spend triple to hire a real company, often this can capture a heart and the job.

If you frame the situation as too much to handle alone, often you can get the homeowner to agree to be in charge, pay you the same, and you work hourly for labor — even if not to 100% completion. Sometimes a piecemeal approach works.

3. There is no correct way to advertise.

I have posted hundreds of ads throughout the years scrambling for a paycheck. I have had real companies, a real contractors license at times, and I always go back to being the underdog. It’s just easier for me. I don’t take my life serious enough to complete and file paperwork!

Sometimes, just saying you have a real business, will drive many away who want an implicit good deal. Many homeowners want the guy who has no overhead! Other times, of course, a real business gets the work.

I have tried short advertisements ~50 words, long-formed love letters, incoherent ramblings on skills, everything. It’s still hard to gauge what works.

These days, I just post an ad with a picture of my face, a few skills, a quick bio on how I can save you money compared to traditional contractors, a visible lowest price (to deter all those seeking work for $12 an hour!), and some general contact info. I’m always sure to say free estimates, odd jobs welcome, and the usual stuff you can glean from anyone’s Craigslist ad.


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