Google’s pending introduction of mobile-friendly as a ranking factor is going to move mobile design to the top of priority lists. Freelancers should be able to leverage the April deadline to get new business throughout 2015.
SEO has had several similar moments to this — with the early Panda updates being the most recent. And older IT guys can tell you about the Y2K madness (and hiring that came with it). In both instances, a rush to solve the problems drove people to find budget because the alternative was a big loss of business. These types of demand-expanding events don’t come around too often, so you have to take advantage.
If you’re a freelance developer or small web design/dev shop, then start reaching out to small businesses and touting your mobile experience. There is going to be demand well past April 21st and you should be ready to meet it.
What You Should Know for Clients
Make sure you’ve got these mobile topics covered, so you can to discuss, plan and execute a mobile upgrade for clients:
- Its not just about responsive. Google has pushed responsive, but its not mandatory. Make sure you know how to deal with canonical and redirects for m.sites as well.
- Some platforms have quick-fixes. Most of the common CMSs like WordPress have themes, plugins or modules that will get you to something close. Make sure you know whats missing from these solutions and how to enhance them. This also applies to the hosted options like Shopify or even Weebly. It may not be as lucrative per client, but you can tap into large groups of hosted service users that need help with settings and tweaks (YMMV).
- Understand media queries. If you’re doing custom work then be able to adapt your designs to different screen sizes/resolutions. This is also important for email.
- Remember that size matters. Mobile has to be light and fast. Make sure you can explain file compression, minification, caching, CDNs, progressive rendering, and other options to prospects.
Before You Contact Anyone
Make sure your site is mobile-ready. Anyone you contact will check your site. Make sure they see your mobile skills.
You don’t want a client to visit your site on their phone and not be able to read anything. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to make sure your site is in good shape. This is also a great tool to start planning work for a client.
How to Get Mobile Upgrade Business
Here are some ideas for marketing your services in a short window. You’ll likely be able to scope mobile-friendly redesigns for a while, but you can get some business quickly with these tactics.
- Contact previous clients. If you worked with someone 5 years ago, then mobile probably wasn’t top of mind for you or them. Go back to older clients and let them know that you can get them ready for Google’s algo change.
- Tell your real-life network. I’m talking about your friends, family, bartender and babysitter. Basically, anyone you know. They may not seem like obvious sources of leads, but someone you/they know will be looking to get work done.
- Publish content about mobile regularly. Or shoot a video or do a slideshare. It doesn’t matter the format as long as you make it worth consuming and you commit to distributing it. You want to get strong visibility in this short window.You might also try advertising on Facebook if you’ve got a page.
- Use paid search: This will depend on your business size and budget (like everything else), but some well targeted ads on Adwords could payoff for you.
- Listen on social for people asking for help with mobile sites. Socially listening takes effort, but can pay off. Craft a response template for people complaining about mobile design and fire off a quick message in Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn when you see. LinkedIn groups for small businesses should be your best friend.
I’ve worked with a lot of freelancers and it shocks me how many talented people aren’t making a living when there is plenty of demand for their services. There are lots of things that can impact your success, but one advantage a small guy has is agility. Take advantage of the pending rush to mobile to pickup some business.