One of the challenges I face as a freelance writer and small business owner is marketing. It isn’t that I don’t know how to market – I market for clients and nonprofits all the time. It’s that I don’t take time to promote myself. Why? Because I like telling other people’s stories; I’m uncomfortable telling my own.
As a business owner, that’s not a good enough excuse though. If I want to sustain cash flow and keep a steady stable of editors, publishers and clients happy, I have to continually promote my work. With advice from fellow freelancers, I’ve come up with some ways to squeeze marketing into my already full schedule:
1) Dedicated time: I take half a day every week to focus on marketing. That includes both planning and execution. It includes sending out story pitches, reaching out to past and present clients and planning my social media for the week.
2) Networking: Outside of my half day of planning and outreach, I try to attend or create one networking event per week. Sometimes this might involve getting together with just a few fellow business owners or colleagues for a glass of wine, or it might mean attending a larger event like a chamber of commerce function.
3) Social media: Facebook: Whether I post live or schedule posts ahead of time, I try to post at least one item to my Virtually Yourz Facebook page each day. I also try to stay active in Facebook groups that are the most important to me. For example, I actively participate in the Region 10 SPJ group and the Seattle Freelancers Group – 1 to 3 times per week.
Twitter: I maintain several Twitter accounts (@virtuallyyourz, @ilovekentwa and @spjdana) that I try to post to regularly. I typically make time at the end of my day (10 p.m. or after) to go through the most recent posts to see if I can contribute to a conversation. I also retweet, favorite tweets and posts links to recent work or useful articles.
Linked In: I reply to invitations once or twice a week. I also review my profile once or twice a month to see if updates are needed. This is an important place for me to connect with colleagues, but I don’t necessarily generate new business here, so I don’t place my focus here.
4) Blogging: This is one of my favorite tools, but one that I underutilize. Ideally, I’d love to post 2 to 4 times a week, but I’m lucky to do it quarterly. I need to spend more time on my blog.
5) Personal outreach: In the past, I’ve found that some of the smallest, personal touches mean the most. When I interview someone or they’ve taken time to answer questions for a story, I always send a handwritten thank you note along with my business card. Some people toss them, but I’ve seen others post them on their bulletin boards or they’ll tell me, “no one ever sends cards anymore.” They might remember me the next time they have a story idea or when they have a writing or editing project. It’s a lesson my grandmother taught me that has served me well.
I encourage you to identify the marketing tools and self-promotion schedule that work for you and develop a written plan for marketing yourself. If you do this faithfully, your work and cash flow will be more consistent.
Dana E. Neuts
Have ideas or suggestions to share? Post them here under the Comments section. I’d love to learn from you too!