I get it, I am a weirdo.
Perhaps an anomaly.
But I…(shhh, don’t tell anyone!) like marketing myself and my business.
No, no, don’t run away!
I know most people hate marketing themselves.
It can feel “braggy” to talk about yourself. There is anxiety when approaching strangers. What if the person/company doesn’t like your work? And, hey, marketing takes time away from other (paid) work.
“I’m just not good at it.”
“I don’t see the point.”
I have HEARD IT ALL.
And I still know it to be 100% true that if you market yourself, even a little bit, you will get back SO MUCH return and will be more profitable and successful FASTER.
So, instead of a lecture on why marketing is super important and why you really just need to do it, full stop, I am going to give you a few quick tips you can implement starting right now to do some marketing with minimal work or effort on your part.
None of the below ideas require you to spend hours researching or scrolling through social media or emailing individual companies and people. They are all free. And even just picking a couple and trying them will show you how useful this kind of marketing can be.
I CHALLENGE YOU:
Do just a couple of these things consistently for 60–90 days and see if you are getting more leads, more money, and better clients.
Just see if it works for you.
You may find that some things work better than others. Great! Drop the ones that don’t work after the first 30-60 days and focus on the things that are producing results. Maybe replace it with another item on the list if you have time to incorporate it.
You may be surprised that some of these end up being things you actually enjoy doing. Yes, I blog for my business — but I genuinely enjoy blogging!
1. Add your blog, books, and links to your email signature (and social bios).
Time it takes: 10 minutes (max)
This is a super simple one. Add the links for your company, website, books, courses, etc. into your email signature and also into all of your social media bios.
It takes basically no time, and then they are there forever.
Here is my Gmail email signature:
2. Ask for referrals.
Time it takes: 10–20 minutes
This is something you SHOULD be doing with every client, but it’s easy to forget.
Go through your spreadsheet or email folders or wherever and gather the list of previous clients you’ve worked with over the past, say two years.
Shoot them a super quick email saying hello and checking in, and letting them know you enjoyed working with them previously. Mention any exciting developments (you launched a new course, have new services, got married, etc.). And end it by saying, “If you or anyone you know anyone who needs _____ services, please let me know! I am currently looking to add 2 new clients to my roster. Thank you!”
You can even create a referral program where you give an old client $100 or a percentage of the first project you do with any client they refer.
If you decide to create a referral program, mention it in the same email!
Then, moving forward, every time you work with a client, ask for referrals. You don’t have to wait until you’re done working with someone. Once you’ve done some work for anyone, they have enough information to know they like working with you.
Always ask for referrals!
3. Upsell your existing clients for more services.
Time it takes: 10 minutes of conversation (or a REALLY good email)
As a writer/editor, most first-time or prospective clients assume that writing or editing is all I do. They ask me about the cost of website copy, blogging, or editing a book, and that’s it.
However, I use the conversation to let them know about my other skills and other ways I can bring value to their business.
For example, instead of ONLY writing the blog post, I offer to source images, upload the post to their site (if they want), and create a social media post with the link, a quote from the article, and hashtags.
This takes a lot off their plate — uploading, scheduling posts, grabbing images, etc.
They then get excited when they realize I can do the entire process, which also helps them understand why my prices are what they are — because I’m worth it.
Or if I am editing for a client, I like to also offer my writing, fact-checking, research, and formatting services.
So, think about additional things you can do to make your existing services bigger. It is the easiest and fastest way to make more money!
If you offer graphic design and are brought on to update the website, talk about your logo creation services, too.
In most cases (in my experience), the client didn’t even think to ask if you also did these other things and are excited you can take more off their plate.
The result is more money from each client.
4. Create a free one-pager, article, infographic, 3-minute video, or other informational item related to your business.
Time it takes: 1–2 hours one time (+ long-term returns)
This one and #5 work hand in hand.
You can offer a free opt-in item to anyone who is interested.
I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of popups on websites and blogs that say, “Get a FREE ____ workbook!” or “Click here to download a free 10-day meal plan!”
Those are free opt-ins.
You can create ANYTHING to be a free promo item. It could be a PDF of an article you wrote that is particularly valuable for your industry, a one-video short webinar on the topic you get asked about the most, a listicle of paid opportunities in your field, an infographic, a free ebook you’ve written — anything.
But having a free promo item helps you build your email list AND gets your name and work to a wider audience with basically no additional work from you.
Then you can add the link to your free promo item in your email signature and bios, at the end of blog posts, as a popup on your website. There are plugins for that OR you can do it via your mailing list site (see #5), and every time someone signs up for your free item, they are added to a mailing list and become leads.
5. Build an email list and send out newsletters.
Time it takes: 20 minutes to get started, then ongoing, maybe 30 minutes per newsletter
Cost: Free (depending on what resource you use)
I use a free MailChimp account for my email list and to send newsletters. If you choose a different service, this might not be free.
But MailChimp (and other email services) have free signup forms you can create and add to your website or blog to encourage people to sign up for your mailing list. In my MailChimp account, I can go to any audience and click on “Create a signup form” to get their form builder.
I have the link to my mailing list form (that “eepurl” URL at the top left) at the bottom of blog posts and on my website. You can also add it to your email signature, social media bios, and more.
Once I put it at the bottom of my blog posts, I started getting new signups every week!
Once you have a few signups, start sending out newsletters to your list. You choose how often you want to send them out and what they say. Do it consistently, similar to how you might create a blogging schedule.
I tend to only send out newsletters about once a month. I usually feature a recent (useful) blog post and mention what I am working on next and any announcements about my work or business.
Yours could be anything. They could be valuable resources you’ve found for people in your industry, a list of websites that pay for contributor articles, a recommended reading list, a recent blog post or video you posted, or anything!
But sending out newsletters keeps your name in peoples’ minds, engages with leads, and shows them the value you provide for free. They will be certain your paid services are worth your price.
6. Write and post blogs consistently.
Time it takes: 1–2 hours per blog
Content marketing is super important, but all you need to know is that you should post more on your blog, whether that is on your website or on an independent platform like Medium.
Blogging consistently (I recommend at least once per week) will grow your audience and get you ranked higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Original content is huge for search engines.
And if more people find you from the SERPs, you’ll continue growing your audience and your credibility with useful content.
Bonus tip: Do some guest blogging! If you have a piece of content that could be a good fit on another site, shoot them an email and ask if they accept guest posts. Whether they pay or not, you’re widening your audience base and getting your name further afield.
7. Post on social media more often (& not necessarily work stuff!).
Time it takes: 5–10 minutes a couple of days a week
You have an online business. You KNOW you should be using social media, even just a little bit every week.
Start making a point to post on social media 2–3 times per week. The posts do not need to be only about your business. In fact, most consumers prefer to see the humanity and authenticity behind the brand. Post about yourself, a cute photo of your pet, a challenge you are working through, anything.
Posting more often widens your reach and expands who sees you. And then, when they check your bio, they see all the stuff you do! It all works together.
Make sure to use hashtags when posting so that the people who follow those tags see your posts, and remember it doesn’t even have to be original content — you can retweet and share other people’s content. Tag them so their audience sees you, too.
Finally, don’t sleep on LinkedIn. I’ve gotten a bunch of clients through LinkedIn. Grab the post you just made on Facebook or Twitter and paste it into LinkedIn to share. Throw up a blog post from your blog onto LinkedIn’s platform occasionally. Just use it; there are so many business owners on that platform!
8. Get involved in a couple of Facebook or LinkedIn groups in your field of expertise and answer a few questions.
Time it takes: 10 minutes a couple of times per week
You’re probably already in a few groups here and there for your industry. I am in a couple of writing groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. While I don’t check them every day, I do like to go in once or twice each week and answer some questions.
I have gotten new clients who told me they saw my comments in the FB/LI group and wanted to work with me.
I just answer questions with a few sentences. Not every day and not every question, but I go in and clearly answer a few things weekly to show my authority and continue to brand myself as a thought leader.
I am also not afraid to ask a question or two myself in the group and get some info from others.
It’s a great way to engage with people and get your name out without having to actively market yourself. It also shows off your knowledge and expertise. Win-win!
9. Join HARO & PodcastGuests to get featured in articles and podcasts.
Time it takes: 2–3 minutes to scroll through the list. 3-5 minutes per answer
I’ve talked about HARO before, and I’m saying it here because it’s a great way to get free publicity and market yourself by getting quoted by other websites for free.
HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out and is at www.HelpAReporter.com. Go to the website and sign up as a “source.” It’s free and quick.
You will receive 3 emails per day from HARO with a list of all the writers and reporters looking for information and quotes for their articles. They always list out what they are looking for and the information they need, and in most cases, they list the publication.
If they like your response, they’ll quote you in the article and usually send you a link once it is published.
In case they don’t, I do a Google search of my name about once a month to see if anything new has been posted with my name.
If you’re interested in getting on podcasts, a similar free resource to HARO for podcasts is podcastguests.com. Sign up and you’ll receive daily emails about podcasts actively looking for people to interview on their show. You can very quickly fill out a Google form for each one you’re interested in.
Not only is this a great free way to get your name even further out there and pops up when people search your name, but it ALSO is a great addition to the Media page on your website. My media page lists everywhere I have been featured or directly interviewed, including podcasts. It just adds to my credibility when people look at my website and search for me online.
Here’s my media page: https://jyssicaschwartz.com/media/
An Important Note:
James M. Ranson, a close friend of mine who is also a successful freelancer, wants to add his thoughts to this post. This comes directly from his own experience:
If you look at these 9 marketing tips and just don’t want to do any of them or don’t see the point in doing them, you may not have a marketing issue — you may have a business problem. Take some time to reflect and make sure that you are happy with what you do and offer and the work you produce. Revisit what you do, why you do it, who you do it for, and how you feel about doing it.
If you aren’t excited to share it, you may not be doing the thing that is right for you. And that’s ok! It’s totally fine — even encouraged — to reassess and pivot to a new offering or work that you like more.
Be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what’s working for you around those things and what isn’t. Then use what you find to tweak, refine, pivot, or even completely revamp your business into something you’re excited to do at least SOME of these 9 marketing tasks for.