Here are some top tips, collected over the years from various sources, for getting minded children onto your books. If I have used your idea, then thank you! If you would like me to acknowledge you as the source then please contact me - firstname.lastname@example.org
I am registered as a gold member of www.childcare.co.uk. I find it to be a very good way of advertising my services. I also write for the website and have a number of information guides for childminders available via the gold member section of the site.
Here are some more advertising ideas...
· Babysitting - do you offer a babysitting service? This might get you daytime business if you tell parents and ask them to spread the word around;
· Big companies – many big companies local to you may have notice boards, intranet or newsletters. It might be worth a drive round the industrial park and asking at a few reception areas!
· Business cards - get yourself some business cards. You can either print your own or request prices from local companies. You could use part of your start-up grant, if you are lucky enough to get one. Vista Print have a nice selection of cards, but they also have a reputation for charging customers money for a ‘club’ which they don’t remember joining, so please be very careful which buttons you press if you take up their free offers;
· Car – it isn’t expensive to have your website or company name made up into Letraset to go on your car door or back window and it can be a good way of attracting new business as you drive around town. If you don’t fancy Letraset, you could make up a little advert, laminate it and display it in your car window;0
. Childcare.co.uk - the biggest childminder advertising website;
· Children's Information Service - your local CIS advert is a biggie as it is your shop window for everyone who comes to look for childcare and you should spend time getting your advert right. Look at others and make sure yours looks the best, your prices are competitive and the spellings etc are right. Get back on the phone and ask for it to be changed if it’s not 100%. Ring CIS weekly if you have a vacancy and ask them to move you back to the top of the list;
· Forum advert - put your advert on the childminding forum under your local area… you never know who is looking! Best not add a phone number though... you have to protect yourself! I would make a new, free hotmail or yahoo email address and use it just for things like adverts... that way, if it does get spammed, it's not your primary email;
· Internet advertising – there are lots of ideas for places to advertise on the internet. Please be aware that some internet advertising might cost money, so always check first;
· Free magazines / papers - does your local church do a newsletter? Are there any other free magazines or papers available in your town? Have a look around when you are out and if you find any, put an advert in;
· Get out and about - visit your local toddler groups / singing sessions / gym / weight loss clubs etc and leave your leaflet on their noticeboard. Pop back to check again a week later and see if it needs replacing;
· Leaflet - make a little leaflet about your services to give to people who are interested. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy and go easy on the coloured ink, but it can really help to sell you to yourself;
· Library - enrol at your local library and tell the Librarian you are a Childminder. See if they will let you put a leaflet on their notice board. Many libraries run reading or singing sessions for under 3s – you could get involved with one of these and hand out your cards at the end;
· Local schools are great and usually have a couple of notice boards – again a little card would do the trick. Make sure you include the ages of children you are looking for, a general idea of where you live in relation to the school and a mobile number. Your school may also let you include an advert in their newsletter for a small donation to school funds (or even for free);
· Logos – design an eye catching logo and have it printed or embroidered on your coat, bag, buggy etc;
· Other childminders - talk to other childminders and spread the word that you are looking to fill your spaces. Yes I know they are the competition and some might not help you, but if they are full, they might well pass enquiries on to you;
· Parties - do you know any local clowns or people who do children’s birthday parties? They could put a card in their party bags for you and you would be targeting parents with small children;
· Postcards - make up some postcards if you make sure they are eye catching. Ask yourself, ‘Would I answer this if I saw it on a notice board?’ If your spelling isn’t great, type it in Word first and run a spell check … it’s about potential customers seeing it and it being readable and looking the part, so take some time and do it well;
· Putting up adverts - ask at your local health centre / dentists / doctors surgery if you can put up a leaflet. If not, make an appointment to speak to the health visitors and leave them some of your cards. It is getting harder to put up adverts nowadays, although most local shops have notice boards that are free or only a few pence a week. Keep going back to check your advert is still there as they have a habit of disappearing;
· Sure Start centres - do you have a local Sure Start Centre yet? If so, there may be mother and toddler groups or crèches where you could go and leave a leaflet. Sure Start centres are supposed to be working with childminders, so find out what they can do for you;
· Website - consider making yourself a website. Pauline on the childminding help website does some lovely websites and they are not expensive. If you are looking for a free option and you are fairly computer literate, you could use freewebs or webnode - like I have for this site!
· Word of mouth is free! Tell everyone you know what you do. Tell people when you are out shopping in your town - you never know who they know! Tell parents in the playground if you pick up at school, playgroup or nursery – now is not the time to be shy!
... of giving out your address - you will be on your own there all day working with children very soon. It is much better to make up a disposable email address for now and give that to anyone who asks. You will get a good idea about the customer’s requirements before you divulge your personal details;
... of scams – there are lots out there. People contact you from abroad offering you cheques to pay for childcare or asking you for your personal details. Don’t even answer them, because if you do they know they have hit an active mail box and you might get spammed.