This post is more for freelancers, although small business clients who hire writers could use some of the marketing insight as well.
You may have heard other freelancers talk about marketing. But what is it, and why is it important to keep it up?
Marketing can take many forms. Cold calling or writing to clients is marketing, yes. But browsing freelance job boards and responding to job postings is also marketing. Reaching out to past clients or following up with current clients to see if they have more work for you is marketing. Posting your resume, building your website, blogging, posting to your writer Instagram: all marketing.
Simply put, marketing is anything that gets your name out there and helps to build your brand. Sometimes marketing may see immediate impact, such as cold calling, responding to job postings, or following up with past clients. Those actions can result in work right away. Other times marketing doesn't pay off for a while, such as when a client doesn't have any work for you yet (but your follow-up keeps you fresh in their mind when they do have some work). And sometimes, marketing doesn't really have any direct payoff, but contributes to building your brand or online presence, so it's beneficial in a cumulative sense.
Lately I've been working a lot on marketing materials for my businesses: overhauling my websites, settling on visual branding, rewriting my resume, and updating my blogs. It's been a ton of work, and there's no immediate benefit of any of it, but it's still important. Once I get everything updated the way I want it, I intend to make a habit of trolling the job boards on a daily basis.
I used to search for work daily. It was how I started out every day: I read email, I caught up on the blogs I followed (yes, this was when blogs were the primary source of social media), and I searched the job boards. I would do quick searches of all of my favorite job boards, saving all of the ads I wanted to respond to, and then I would spend some time responding to each one.
I haven't done that in a long time, but I need to start doing it again, for the simple reason that marketing regularly helps you to avoid any gaps in work (and income). Not every query or cold call or job ad response will lead to work, so doing a few a day ensures that a freelancer can keep plenty of work queued up.
I've gotten a little stuck in my routine and lately have been getting all my work from just a couple of clients on one freelancer site, but it's time to start marketing again, as I don't like being dependent on just a couple of clients. I had a third client who stopped needing work from me early this year while they worked on their software, and the loss of income from that client has been really rough to deal with, on top of an already really difficult year.
With all of this in mind, my next post (also for freelancers) will talk about the importance of diversifying.