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Social distancing is pushing local businesses online. In this post we list some of the practical steps that you can take right now, to find local businesses who need your help.

As shoppers stay home in increasing numbers due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, business owners are quickly realizing the importance of moving their stores and services online. Now is an opportune time for web developers to make a positive difference and land new business if you know where to look.

Assist your local economy – as well as your own bottom line – and help everyone stay afloat during this era of social distancing. Here are some ways to find local small businesses in need of an e-commerce site.

Build a great website for yourself

If you don’t have one already (and you definitely should), be sure to build a website for yourself. This is not only an opportunity to showcase your skills, but it’s also a way for potential clients to find you.

Share sites you have worked on in the past so that potential clients can start to visualize what their site might be like. Include testimonials that illustrate the benefits businesses experienced once their site launched. Look at it as building an e-commerce website that only sells one thing – your stellar work.

If you’re offering to build multilingual websites, your own website needs to be multilingual and properly translated.

Need some inspiration? Check out WPML’s showcase.

Register your site for Google’s Local search

“Web developers” is one of the subjects that fall exactly under what Google considers as “local businesses”. When a business in Amsterdam is looking for web developers, Google will return results from developers in Amsterdam. When a different business in Boston runs the same search, they will receive completely different results – from developers in Boston. To appear in these searches, you need to register in Google as a “business”. It’s free, takes a few minutes, and is critically important right now.

Walk through your neighborhood

If your city is not yet on lockdown, a quick walk through your neighborhood can give you some inspiration as to who needs your services.

Identify which stores are struggling and which ones have already temporarily closed. Bring your laptop and business cards just in case the owners are available for a quick chat on how you might be able to help.

BTW, if you’re already in on lockdown, take your dog for a walk. Walking the dog is a great excuse for getting some air time.

Get recommended

Sincere, trustworthy, personal recommendations are powerful, especially when everything on the news can seem uncertain and scary.

Contact businesses you worked with in the past to see if they would provide a testimonial for your website. They may know of other businesses in their network that need a website and can recommend you directly. Friends and family can be a powerful resource, too, so don’t forget to advertise your availability on social media channels.

Make it as easy as possible for people to recommend you by providing all important information (website link, rate, contact information, etc.) and making any social media posts public. If you have a history of great work and recommending you is as easy as forwarding an email or sharing a social media post, people will be much more likely to do it.

Learn how to add dynamic testimonials for your website.

Contact your local Chamber of Commerce

Chambers of Commerce have extensive local business directories, host various networking events, and offer advertising opportunities. Some benefits may require you to become a member; however, joining a local business organization may be something to consider anyway, as it could continue to benefit you long after everyone is out of quarantine.

Expand your online advertising skills

Google Ads, Facebook for Business, and other online advertising platforms make it possible to get your ads seen by far more people than just your local circle. Online advertising does require spending a little bit of money, but you often only pay if people click on your ad, and the cost of advertising won’t exceed the budget you set.

Online advertising can be complicated and time consuming, but if you have the time now, it might be a perfect opportunity to hone your skills.

Google Ads Tutorials

Learn Facebook Advertising

Be financially flexible

This is a unique situation, so it’s time to get creative when it comes to your web development business. It’s important to understand that many businesses are struggling financially. Offering a payment plan, a discount for referrals, or other financial incentives could make the upfront costs of launching an e-commerce website seem more manageable to business owners, and may be just enough for you to win the project.

Help local businesses

Whether or not a business survives city-wide lockdowns and forced quarantines will most likely depend on the existence of their online presence. Find the opportunities to help local businesses, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a busy and productive time working from home even long after things go back to normal.

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