Day 31: Make Marketing A Habit

To be truly effective, marketing can’t be something that you do just once in a while — especially for a freelancer. Instead, marketing must be a habit, something that you make time for every day. It can be tough for freelance writers, because that means extra work beyond the writing that is actually paying the bills and it can be difficult to focus on marketing if you’ve already got a full client list.

Just the same, freelancers must market. The typical explanation is that you never know when one of your clients will cut a project and that you have to keep hustling to line up new work. It goes beyond that, though: even if your plate is always full, you can want more. What about better paying clients? If you’ve been writing for a while, it’s important to keep marketing so that you can land new clients who are willing to pay higher rates — after all, most of your existing clientele is going to expect you to keep working at the same price you’ve always worked at.

Set Aside Marketing Time

Many part-time freelancers make a point of setting a certain amount of time aside for writing. Whether you’re full-time or part-time, it’s important to do the same for marketing. Even if you can only manage working on your marketing efforts for 15 minutes a day — well, that’s 15 minutes of marketing you weren’t doing before. That sort of time frame may require some very careful choices on just which marketing tactics you’re going to devote yourself to.

As you practice your marketing skills, you’ll be better able to handle the process — you’ll be able to expand your efforts, and build on your existing reputation. Ideally, you may be able to expand the amount of time you spend on marketing, as well. There is no set amount of time you should be spending on marketing your freelance writing, but I don’t think an hour a day is out of line. That sound like a lot of time, but think about what you may be using that time for: writing query letters, blogging, even going to events. Those sorts of activities pay off when you spend some time on them.

The longer you make a point of marketing, the more of a habit it will become. Marketing yourself and your writing is a great habit to have — and it will come in handy no matter what the future of your freelancing career looks like. Whether you want to write articles from here to forever or you want to build up passive income strams, you’ll need to be able to marketi yourself to meet your goals.

Bringing In Outside Help

One of the reasons that freelance writing is such a flexible business option is that we’re each pretty much responsible for every part of operating our businesses. The number of freelance writers who bring in some outside help — whether we’re talking about tasks like marketing or bookkeeping — is pretty low. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an option.

If you’ve got a pretty full plate as far as work goes, it may make sense to hand off at least a little of your work to someone else. I don’t recommend it as an option for a freelancer first starting out: such help is going to cost a little money and it’s harder to make sure your help is handling a project the way you want if you haven’t done such projects yourself. In other situations, however, a virtual assistant or some other help can make sense. Depending on the virtual assistant you talk to you, you can outsource a wide variety of your work. Personally, I prefer to outsource tasks I don’t enjoy (like bookkeeping) so that I have more time for tasks I do enjoy (like marketing). But even within the larger area of marketing, you can get a lot of help. There are virtual assistants who will update your website, hunt down editors’ email addresses or design your business card. It’s just a question of what you need help with.

Revisit Your Marketing Plans

As you continue your freelance writing career, make a point of revisiting your marketing plans regularly. Your focus may shift — you may want to explore a new niche or target new clients. Those shifts can require some corresponding changes in your marketing efforts: you want to make sure that you are where your ideal clients are at all times.

You don’t need to completely change your marketing plan on a weekly or monthly basis, of course, but checking in once a month or so to make sure that you’re still progressing towards your goals can help you to decide that you’re still on track. If you feel that you aren’t meeting your goals, or you’ve slowed in your progress, then it may be time to revise your marketing plans.

How do you schedule your marketing tasks with the rest of your work?