So, how can you prepare your business (and yourself) for time off?
While it is weird to think you can just turn off your phone and computer for two weeks and come back like nothing happened, you CAN.
You just have to prep for it first.
When I am going on a real vacation — as in, not bringing my laptop and with no intention of checking work emails — I start by planning ahead.
About a month before my vacation, I email all of my clients to let them know the dates I will be away.
I let them know that anything with deadlines prior to the vacation will still be met and inform them of how and when I’ll be sending invoices and anticipating payment. I also let them know that I will not be available or responding to calls and emails in that time.
I then ask if there is anything they know they’ll need during that time — so that I can make a plan to either get it done ahead of time or find someone else to do it while I’m gone.
Since I do regular check-in calls with clients, I remind them about the dates I’ll be gone starting about two weeks ahead of time.
About 2–3 business days before I leave for vacation, I send a quick reminder email to all clients that I will be gone and unavailable and reiterate the dates.
Then, finally, starting at the end of the business day the evening before I leave for vacation, I set an out-of-office email message, block out my calendar, and turn off all available dates on my Calendly (an appointment-setting tool).
There is an acronym in the sales/marketing world: ABC. It means “always be closing.”
While this is a fantastic strategy and mindset when marketing for new clients, many self-employed people don’t think it applies past the “yes” and starting to work together.
So, in this short article, I will give you the 3 best ways you can make more money and continue to “sell” yourself to clients you’re already working with.
1. Ask for more work
This may sound simple…“Oh, duh, just ask for more.”
But the truth is that once you have a contract in place and are working with a client, it is often easy to go on autopilot and do the work and move on to looking for more clients.
But you have a golden opportunity here! The client already likes and trusts you, you know the voice/tone for their business, and they already understand the value you add to their business (since they are already paying you!).
So, ask for more work.
Let’s say you are a content writer/blogger, and you’re writing one post per week for a client.
Reach out to the client and ask if they’ve considered writing additional posts per week/month.
And ask if they need writing in other areas! Writing skills help with much more than just blog posts. For example:
Writing social media posts
Writing content for LinkedIn that parallels with the blogs on the client’s website and links to the site
Writing website copy
Writing email templates for a business
And more. Use your knowledge of the client’s business and their goals to find ways your specific writing skills can help the business grow.
2. Expand/upsell more services for the same client
Similar to the first tip, this next one is about expanding past simply writing and using any other skills you have to “upsell” your services.
For example, instead of just writing and editing blog posts and sending them to the client, you can offer to take the entire blog process off their plate. Let them know they can simply provide ideas (or you can put together a list of ideas to choose from!), and you’ll write the post, source images, edit the post, then physically go into WordPress, Medium, LinkedIn, or whatever blog platform they use, and post it for them.
Or you can offer to use your knowledge of SEO to search for relevant keywords and use SEO optimization techniques to improve their rankings in the SERPs.
Or you might use your social media savvy to offer to manage their social media accounts and create beautifully-written Instagram or Facebook posts.
Maybe you took a course on IG and FB ads and can upsell your services to include creating and managing paid ads for the client.
Depending on your skills and areas of expertise, there are tons of ways you can expand the type of work you do with a client. Small businesses, especially, love working with this type of freelancer because you are ultimately saving them time and energy of dealing with other (necessary but sometimes annoying) parts of the business.
3. Ask for referrals
Finally, one of the best things you will ever do for your business is to remember to ask them for referrals.
Now, I never wait until AFTER I finish working with someone to ask for referrals.
Once I have a good working relationship with a client, I shoot a quick email with something like this:
I really enjoy working with you and wanted to check in to see if anyone you know may need similar services. I recently finished a large book editing project and have the time and bandwidth to add 1–2 new clients to my roster. If you know of anyone, I’d love an introduction!
And I also periodically (about 2–3 times per year or when it makes sense) reach out to old clients I am no longer working with to check in and ask if they or anyone they know needs anything.
I also take that opportunity to remind them of my skills.
“It was great working with you earlier this year, editing your book was a blast. I hope it is doing well! I wanted to reach out and see if you or anyone you know needs any writing or editing assistance. In addition to editing books, I also write blog content for businesses, help authors with the self-publishing process, put together social media or editorial calendars, and can even help create sales scripts and email campaigns. Hope to hear from you soon!“
This reminds them of our work together, lets them know any new skills I’ve picked up, and keeps my name in their mind when they do need anything.
Another time I might reach out to old clients is if I am running some kind of sale. If I’m doing some kind fo “10% off all packages” or something for the new year or other holiday, that is the perfect excuse to shoot an email to an old client and let them know — while also asking for referrals.
The most important thing to remember is that when you have great customer service and were responsive and easy to work with, people are generally quite happy to recommend you to friends and colleagues!
These 3 things are why my entire book of business is from referrals and word of mouth. I rarely need to actually market myself to attract new clients.
As the gig economy continues to grow, more and more people are opting to work as freelancers. While freelancing can be an attractive option for those who want to work on their own terms, it can be challenging to market yourself effectively — with or without a traditional resume.
For me, I choose to keep my traditional resume updated and good to go, but I’ve never needed to give it to a prospective client. Instead, I focus on my website and my blog to show my experience.
But the question of whether freelancers need a resume is a valid one, and the answer is not a simple yes or no. Let’s discuss when having a resume as a freelancer might be useful and other ways to market yourself if you choose not to have or don’t need one.
3 Reasons A Freelancer Might Have a Resume
As you know, your resume is a solid marketing tool to summarize your education, work experience, certifications, and skills. While it is most typically used to apply for traditional jobs, it can also be useful for freelancers.
It may be the case that these benefit beginning freelancers or those without a website more than more experienced ones.
1. To showcase your skills and experience
As a freelancer, you are your own brand. You need to be able to communicate your skills and experience effectively to potential clients to secure new projects.
A resume can help you do that by highlighting your previous work experience, education, and any relevant certifications or training you’ve completed. This information can give potential clients a better understanding of your background and the value you can bring to their projects.
2. To establish credibility
Having a well-crafted resume can help establish your credibility as a professional freelancer. It shows that you take your work seriously and have put in the time and effort to build a strong foundation for your business.
A resume can also demonstrate your attention to detail and professionalism, which can be appealing to potential clients who are looking for someone reliable to work with.
3. To differentiate yourself from other freelancers
With so many freelancers in the market, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd.
Having a nicely-formatted resume that highlights your unique skills and experience can help differentiate you from other freelancers and make you more appealing to prospective clients.
3 Alternatives to a Traditional Resume
Traditional resumes are often geared toward full-time jobs, and they may not fully capture the more unique nature of freelance work. Plus, some freelancers may not have a traditional employment history or formal education, making it even more difficult to create a traditional resume.
If you choose not to have a traditional resume, there are alternative ways to market yourself as a freelancer. Personally, these are 3 things I’ve done to market myself and find new clients.
Create a blog or portfolio
One of the best ways to showcase your skills and experience as a freelancer is to build a blog or portfolio. A portfolio, like a blog, is a collection of your best work samples, and it can help potential clients get a sense of your style, quality, and capabilities.
You can include a link to your portfolio on your website or social media profiles to make it easily accessible to anyone interested in hiring you.
Instead of a resume, when I apply for freelance gigs or message a cold prospect, I include a link to my blog so they can see my writing samples and style.
Create a website
Having a website is an essential tool for any freelancer. It serves as a central hub for your business, and it helps potential clients and other people easily find you online. You can use your website to showcase your work with links or images, list your services and rates, and provide information about your background and experience. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to people!
You may also choose to have your blog on your site, a contact form, and even a media page if you’ve been featured on other sites.
Leverage social media
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for freelancers. You can use platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to showcase your work, connect with and message potential clients, and build your professional network.
And by sharing updates about your projects and engaging with others in your industry, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field, thus building more authority and credibility and attracting new clients (or email subscribers!).
While a traditional resume can be useful for freelancers, it is not always necessary. Freelancers can also market themselves effectively by building a portfolio or blog of work samples, having a website to showcase their work, or using social media to market themselves.
Do you use a resume as a freelancer? Why or why not?
While those within the writing/editing field may see this and think, “Duh, dude, I know this one,” many people out there don’t know the answer and use the terms more or less interchangeably.
What is content & what is copy?
In the world of words, “content” covers a multitude of things, including scripts, ebooks, journals, blog posts, white papers, technical guides, newsletters, guides, infographics, and more. The intent is more to educate, inform, or entertain, and the length depends on the needs of the piece.
“Copy” is used to refer specifically to writing with the intent to persuade. Sales ads, social media ads, commercials, slogans, landing pages, product pages, sales emails — copy is written to sell you something. It is persuasive writing, and typically the result is shorter.
While they have different purposes and intent, it is easy to remember it this way: Content is basically an umbrella term that covers all writing and word-related things. It can include copy as well, but in the writing world, most of us use the two distinctively — after all, words matter!
Think about “content creators” on social media. They are primarily using stories/scripts, videos, and images to share their lives. They are using the content from their lives to create physical content on the internet to both entertain their audience but ALSO to draw them in and get more followers.
In the writing industry, the two terms have specific meanings.
To put it simply, let’s say your company has a blog on its website and sends out weekly email newsletters to customers.
The content writer is coming up with topics, researching, finding credible sources and images, and writing blog posts for the blog portion of the site.
The copywriter writes the words on the website landing pages and creates an effective email newsletter to persuade subscribers to come to the website, read more, and spend money.
They are both words, but the purpose and intent differ — which requires a different set of skills.
Another example is a stand-up comedian. Their set is content, and the ads for the show are copy.
As a note, since copywriting is more specialized, it tends to be higher paid. So, if you are thinking about becoming a copywriter — do it! Take some courses and learn in the ins and outs of copywriting and jump in with both feet!
I am in several writing and freelancing groups on various platforms, including Facebook and LinkedIn.
I enjoy the community of other writers and seeing how others use software, how they approach issues with clients and more.
There are also a lot of newbies in those groups who have a ton of questions about finding clients, determining pricing, dealing with rejection, and scheduling.
I came across a GREAT question in one of the groups and really think it’s something many freelancers deal with. So here I am to give YOU this info!
Here is the question:
I have kept her name out for privacy’s sake.
Here is the answer I wrote to her:
It took me a while, but I learned to turn it off on weekends (unless I was under a deadline).
Here’s what you need to start doing: When you receive new work, whether from a new client or a current one, acknowledge receipt via email and ask when the deadline is.
Instead of just immediately starting, start having specific deadlines and then craft your workdays around them. If you have 3–4 weeks to dev edit a 50k-word draft, you know your pace and can start to set a schedule, such as “edit 10 pages per day” or “12,000 words per week,” etc. Build a schedule instead of just opening an email and starting work ASAP.
One thing that works for me is every single Monday morning, the first thing I do before starting any work is write down my to do list for the week. What projects need working on? Do I have any hard deadlines this week? Is there anyone I should be following up with? Any invoicing to do? I write a list by hand in a notebook I keep on my desk. Then I also have the pleasure of checking off things I complete “Edit 50 pages of X project — CHECK” or “Write press release and send to Y for review — CHECK.”
Having a visual list right in front of you that you can scratch out and add to as the week goes on, and then use it to push things forward to the next week as needed.
Let’s discuss this further.
When you first start freelancing, it’s easy to keep on top of everything. You’re typically not super busy yet, or haven’t put together a schedule yet, and can easily just check your email throughout the day.
You respond immediately to all new inquiries. When you get a new project, you jump right in and start working on it.
Maybe you have some organization and tools set up, maybe not.
Since the very beginning, I have used Google Drive to organize and house all of my projects. While these days I have to pay a bit (maybe $20 per year) for extra storage, that organization still works for me.
But you’re not super busy yet. And you probably haven’t really instituted a schedule.
Heck, maybe you’re still working from the couch or from bed!
Freelancing can be a full-time job — with a full-time salary.
But in most cases, that is because you treat it like a job. Like a business.
Don’t just do whatever whenever you feel like it.
Get on the phone with clients and discuss deadlines, deliverables, and payment terms.
Set up a workspace in your home where you can work and be comfortable and focused.
SET SCHEDULES & REMINDERS.
I do not know how to tell you how important it is to have a schedule for work and deadlines!
I use my Google calendar to put down deadlines on the dates projects are due and then use my weekly physical checklist to list out specific tasks that need to be done that week. Every week is a new, fresh page, even if the previous list still has unchecked items. Those things get moved to the new page.
Set a reminder in your calendar to check in with clients and give them brief progress updates on the project. Mine is usually a brief email to let them know I am on track to meet the deadline, and then I include anything additional, like if I need more information, access to something, for them to review something, etc.
Let yourself rest on weekends! That email can wait until Monday; it is most definitely not a writing emergency — and even if it is, enjoy one of my favorite quotes:
“A lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.”
*chef’s kiss* what a beautiful sentiment. You’re allowed to stop working at a reasonable hour and not answer unexpected calls or emails at 10 pm!
If you TREAT freelancing as just “Oh, my side gig for a bit of extra cash,” then that’s all it might be.
But if you take it seriously and treat it like a job, even a part-time one, you are more likely to succeed faster.
So, find your rhythm. Create a schedule, make deadlines, organize your work and your space, and take weekends to yourself.
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.
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.
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.
There is a myth that pervades the writing world that you HAVE to write every single day.
If you don’t, then you won’t be successful or good…or make money!
That is NOT true.
Let’s talk about this.
While I have long thought, written, and advised that writing more often is essential to improving, the main thing anyone can take away from my advice is:
Consistency is the true path to success.
I do not write every day.
Not on my blog, for my next book, or in my journal.
Depending on my clients and deadlines, not even for clients! (To be fair, I mostly do editing these days.)
Consistency is the only real way to create a sustainable, profitable writing career.
Some writers may prefer a writing schedule that has them writing every day. But that is certainly not the only way to be successful.
I post on my Medium blog once each week. Sometimes more than once, if I am struck by a good idea.
But I strive to always post one new blog per week.
Not because I cannot write more but because that is a schedule and expectation I can actually meet every single week.
When I’ve tried to commit to more than that in the past, it will be okay for a few weeks, but then I get busy or run out of ideas or hit writer’s block or don’t feel like writing that day, and I stop.
A sustainable writing schedule is more important (to me) than money right this moment.
When I’m working on a new book (I’ve written 6!), my goal is not to finish it right this moment and get it away from me — my goal is to actually write a good book.
And I know myself well enough to know that a daily several-hour writing commitment is not going to happen. I might try for a couple of days, but that will quickly lead to burnout for me.
I’ll get bored of it and just chuck the proverbial ball into the shed and ignore it until I kind of lose passion for the topic.
Instead, I create a sustainable writing schedule that I can actually stick to and continue with over time.
Building a profitable writing business is always a longer-term goal, not an overnight implementation.
Listen, I got clients right away when I started freelancing. Meaning I started making money ASAP.
But if I’d stopped there and didn’t continue to market my business, refine my offerings, raise my prices, and improve my skills, I would not have been able to continue.
Because those first few clients paid me peanuts! I didn’t know what to charge, I was saying yes to any project that came along, and I allowed clients to scope creep.
Because I hadn’t figured it all out yet.
I HAD to take a longer view. Raising my prices and knowing my worth. Putting a contract in place with revision limits. Figuring out the things I LIKED doing and no longer doing the things I didn’t enjoy.
My business has evolved significantly over the years.
I no longer even offer weekly blogging! I mainly do editing work these days and very little actual writing for clients.
But it all takes time.
Consistently giving clients high-quality work products.
Consistently marketing myself.
Consistently asking for referrals.
Consistently providing top-notch customer service to clients.
Consistently valuing my time and not over-committing or under-charging.
Consistently producing personal writing on a schedule that works for me.
…consistently making money and running a profitable business.
Use your book as a marketing tool to grow your business!
Few authors make a livable income from selling their books alone (including me!). However, there are many ways having written a book allows you to make more money, by attracting new clients, growing your business or brand, and positioning yourself as an authority — which will lead to you raising your prices for your services.
You may come to see that writing your book is the easy part, and it’s the marketing and selling it which can be difficult and sometimes frustrating.
Using your book as a marketing tool to serve yourself and your business, and marketing your book to sell copies are two separate things and you should approach them differently.
An example of using your book as a marketing tool is if you use the fact that you’re a published author in the industry as a selling point or credential to land a speaking engagement.
An example of marketing your book for sales is bringing copies of your book to a conference, book fair, or speaking engagement and selling copies to attendees while there.
Marketing your book can sometimes feel like a second job, but it’s an important aspect in book publishing, no matter how you choose to publish! If you go with traditional publishing, the publisher will have ways to market your book, but it will still be up to you to do a lot of your own marketing, too.
Having written a book allows you to:
Launch or further your personal brand (or that of your company).
Position yourself as a thought leader and an expert in your field.
Give yourself an immediate perception of authority, credibility, and legitimacy.
Attract clients and act as a lead generator, which helps you sell more products or services.
Provide a straightforward way to educate people on your industry or topic.
Create a passive income stream.
Launch or grow a business.
Provide more opportunities for media and publicity.
Open doors for getting into public speaking or consulting.
24 Book Marketing Ideas
Here is a list of 24 marketing ideas. Hopefully, this list will spark some ideas and inspiration in you and you may come up with new ideas I’d never think of!
Create an opt-in within your book to add to your mailing list (see chapter six for more on this).
Use HARO and PodcastGuests to be featured in articles and podcasts.
Run a preorder campaign before you launch.
Create a Goodreads account and connect your book to your name there.
Write an article on LinkedIn.
Write a blog post on your personal blog.
Do some guest posts on other people’s blogs.
Announce your book to your email lists.
Update your website with your new book and a link to purchase.
Create targeted ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Run a Google AdWords campaign.
Write and distribute a press release.
Do livestreams on Facebook or YouTube with Q&As and talk about your book and the writing process
Do a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”).
Host a book launch party.
Do book signings at local bookstores or libraries.
Make simple graphics on sites like Canva to post on various social media platforms.
Submit your book to websites that do editorial reviews.
Send your book to individual reviewers who post on their own platforms.
Put an excerpt of a chapter or two on Wattpad and include a link to purchase the rest.
Do a giveaway.
Try a Kindle Countdown deal (price promotion) or use other Amazon promotional tools available to you through KDP (if you enrolled in KDP Select).
Be a speaker at an event or conference (and bring copies of your book to sell).
Attend book fairs, festivals, and conferences (you can even purchase a booth and bring plenty of copies to sell).
Get creative and think about how you can get your book or information about you in front of a wider audience. These are only some of the ways you can market and advertise your book, and I know you’ll be able to come up with many more.
It’s up to you whether you choose to use your book as a marketing tool or market your book at all. Just know that being a published author can serve you well in your life and business.
A straightforward list of tips and advice to build your brand fast.
I saw this question on Quora and wrote up a nice long answer. I realized it would be useful to you as well! So here is my answer to “What should I avoid when I am a freelance writer?” originally asked on Quora with some more information for you.
There were some other excellent answers, but here are the 17 mistakes that I came up with and some details as to why.
The top things to avoid as a freelance writer are:
Working for free for any reason — you do not need a portfolio of published pieces or free work to get started. Anyone with any level of experience can pitch to clients and use PDFs or Google docs of written pieces as writing samples. Never work for free.
Self-doubt — Insecurity, imposter syndrome, and self-doubt are extremely common, especially among new or inexperienced freelancers. The reality is that if people are willing to pay for your work, then it is valuable. You have to value yourself and your skills and be confident in your pitches to succeed. Entrepreneurship is hard enough without self-sabotage.
Working for very low pay — If a site or agency or client is offering 2 or 4 cents per word, no matter how fast you write, it is too low and unreasonable. Value your skills and time. If you are making at or below even minimum wage, it’s WAY TOO LOW. Freelance writing is a specialized skill, especially if you have a specific highly specialized niche. Charge more and say NO to too-low wages. Use that time looking for higher-paying projects.
Writing free “samples” — If a company or client asks for free writing, it’s a scam to get free posts. Even if they are a legitimate company, they are still scamming you. Reputable good companies will pay for any samples or tests they ask you to do in the interview process.
Bad clients — Clients who try to scope creep (asking for more than you agreed to and are being paid for), demanding, late with payments, nickel-and-diming you, and who are unresponsive are simply not worth your time and frustration. Spend that time looking for better clients. Trust me, this one is huge. Here’s a post about how to identify these types of bad clients.
Freelance content mills — I personally am not a fan of Upwork and similar sites, simply because it always feels like a race to the bottom. Value quantity over quality. Marketing yourself can sound overwhelming but if you pick a few companies that look like good fits and reach out directly, you are far more likely to get a response and start building a relationship.
Overbooking yourself — If you overload yourself with work, you risk missing deadlines, stressing yourself out, and making mistakes. Know your limits of how much you can do in a day, a week, and a month. It is ok to say “I am not able to take that on this week but I could start on it next Tuesday with a deadline of Friday if that works for you.” Give yourself permission to take a break, a nap, a walk, and have some free time. Freelancing doesn’t mean being busy every second, it’s about working smarter and building relationships, and working on the types of things you WANT to be doing.
Missing deadlines — Don’t do it. If you make a commitment, make it happen. If you overbooked yourself or didn’t allow enough time for it, then grind it out and do it this time and learn the lesson of how long things take you and how to estimate deadlines. When creating your deadlines, build in some wiggle room.
Working without a contract — This is a huge no-no. Don’t do it. Even if it is a simple, relatively inexpensive project, contracts are hugely important. Your contract should dictate payments, deadlines, deliverables, and anything else having to do with the client/freelancer relationship. Contracts are put in place to protect ALL parties, not just the freelancer. The client is getting a guarantee of the work and deliverables they can expect, as well as timelines and payment schedules.
Not asking for referrals and reviews/testimonials — This is a mistake many freelancers make. They either “feel weird asking” or forget to ask for referrals and testimonials. Not me! I assume that every client I work with had a good experience — because I put a lot of effort into making sure I am easy to work with and give them what they ask for. After our project is complete, I let them know I enjoyed working with them and ask if they or anyone they know needs any writing and editing services. If they write back a good review, I ask if it’s ok to put it up on my website.
Not looking for long-term or retainer clients — This is one many freelancers learn as they go. Projects are great and especially good for filling gaps and making faster money, but longer-term projects and monthly retainer clients are the best way to build stability into your paycheck and work. I have retainer clients that pay a flat fee per month and get X number of hours or work or X number of posts per month from me. I invoice them monthly and build a solid relationship. I also tend to get more referrals from this type of client.
Not asking for more money/negotiating — If a project or client seems interesting and you want to work with them but they are offering too low of pay rates, try simply asking for and negotiating for more money. It never hurts to ask. I often will take a little time to educate them on “average” rates and why they often get what they pay for. I show them my value and the benefits they will get from working with me. This works more often than not.
Not be proactive about pitching/marketing yourself — Many new (and seasoned!) freelancers join sites like Upwork and write for their own blogs and just wait for clients to come to them. This is the worst possible strategy. Being successful faster requires you to go out and identify ideal clients and actively reach out to them and introduce yourself. No one knows who I am. They are not searching for ME, they are searching for a random writer to fit with what they need. Being proactive is extremely effective and often results in better clients, better work, and better pay.
Not having their own blog — Having your own blog that you update regularly is a huge boon. People can find you organically and you can also use it as your writing samples. It is a great way to get your name out there and build an audience. Some clients will reach out to you simply because they found your blog and it was a great resource for them.
Not diversifying their income — You do NOT have to stick to one thing. Maybe you started out ghostwriting blog posts, but that doesn’t mean that is the only thing you can do. There are tons of other ways to make money, some more passive than others. For example, you can write a book and get royalties from sales, you can do some affiliate marketing if it makes sense on your blog, you can start a podcast or a Youtube channel, you could create a short webinar or online course that can be sold in perpetuity.
Not starting an email list early — I didn’t start my email list until I was ready to publish my first book and I was definitely missing out. Newsletters can make you money, make you a thought leader, let you give valuable information to your readers, and is a great place to announce new things happening with you — book releases, a new service offering, and more.
Not double-checking the details — When writing or editing something for anyone, make sure you not only reread your work several times but also that you reread the brief or outline to make sure it is what the client wants. Also, run your work through editing software like Grammarly as a final step, just to make sure you didn’t miss anything. We all make mistakes and typos, it’s human nature. So, just do whatever you can to avoid them in the final product.
I hope you find this helpful and can avoid making these mistakes as you build your freelancing empire!
As a writer, sometimes I just don’t have a great idea.
We’ve all been there. Artists and sculptors and designers and architects — any profession that requires creative ideas — have had times when they hit a wall.
In writing, it’s simply called “writer’s block.” A simple, clear phrase that indicates a brick wall in my brain between “I want/need to write” and “I have no idea what to write.”
But creativity is not a waterfall. It is not continuous. Creativity is more like a river. It moves, changes directions and shoots off down a tributary, it ebbs and flows, it rises and falls.
Creativity, like water, is powerful.
It’s a driving force inside us that makes us want to create.
To make something.
Whether it’s a simple blog post, a new sticker design, a paint by number, or Michaelangelo’s David.
Creativity can sometimes be forced. Like anything in life, sometimes you don’t know the end result but you just have to start something.
Here are 21 ways you can shake off the block, dance past the wall, and spark your creativity:
Set a timer. Turn off all distractions, set a timer for 5 minutes, and write or draw the first thing that comes to mind. It doesn’t matter what it is! Let the pen move and see what happens.
Get outside. Just take a walk and clear your mind. Go outside, get some fresh air, and let yourself breathe. Stop focusing so hard and trying to force an idea and just enjoy a nice walk. You’ll be surprised what sparks in your head when you stop trying to force yourself to be creative and give yourself a break.
People watch! This is one of my favorites. I like to look out the window or go to the park and just watch strangers go by. Sometimes I make up stories about where they are going or what they do, who they are, why they are in a rush. It’s a really nice way to pass some time and let creativity come in.
Just dance! Sometimes we need to get out of a rut and shake it off. Especially with the pandemic, we’re moving less and staying in more. Put on some upbeat music and shake it out. Move your body and shake and shimmy and gyrate and sing along and just enjoy the music. Get your heart rate up and your let your body move!
Go drive. Much like taking a walk, often just removing yourself from where you are will change how you think and help remove creative blocks. Go drive through an area you haven’t before, go anywhere and just enjoy the open road.
Read a book. I know, you should be working and it feels lazy to take a break and do something fun like reading when you really should be getting shit done. But give your brain a break! Read something you enjoy, not a nonfic about how to be creative…let your brain relax!
Meditate. Some people find meditation to be very relaxing and allow them to reset and revitalize. Breathe!
Browse social media. I do this with Facebook and Quora. I will just scroll through and see what people are talking about. What questions are they asking? What are they thinking about? Seeing what others are talking about often sparks ideas in me. Pinterest is another great one to look through.
Browse the news. Don’t just doom-scroll and go into a spiral, but run through the headlines. What is happening in the world or in your area right now? Often, seeing what’s going on will spark something in your brain and that will thread out and become a great idea.
Think like a kid. If you don’t have a kid handy to chat with, think about what you were like as a child. Look at pictures, think about what you wanted to be when you grew up, what you enjoyed doing as 5, 10, and 15 years old. Let yourself wander down memory lane.
Talk to a friend. Get out of your head and onto a call or video chat with someone you love. You don’t need to talk about the lack of creativity — just enjoy spending quality time with someone you love!
Do some decluttering! Is there anything more peaceful and beautiful than an organized and clean space? Pick one area — your desk, your dresser, the kitchen pantry, the coffee table — and declutter. Clean up, organize, Marie Kondo the crap out of the area. Then wipe it all down and bask in your new-feeling space.
Buy a new tool. What I mean is to buy something that relates to your creative outlet. A new pen or notebook (we writers ADORE journals and notebooks) for a writer, a new brush or paint set for painters, a new set of markers, a sculpting tool, anything. It doesn’t have to be expensive — think how you feel every time you open a new pen/brush/marker. It feels so good and you want to use it ASAP!
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask people what’s on their mind or what they would draw/write/make! Tap into other people’s creativity and let the ideas flow.
Change the scenery. Take yourself somewhere else. A change in environment is a great way to revitalize your brain. Go to a coffee shop, take your stuff to the backyard, or just move to a different room than where you normally work. Shake up the scenery and think differently.
Change the story. If you always paint flowers and it’s just not feeling right today, try painting a dinosaur. If you write nonfiction and blogs, try writing a short fictional story. If you always make mugs, make a little penguin. Get out of the rut by forcing yourself to think differently instead of staying in your normal routine. This makes you leave your comfort zone — and brilliant things happen when we step out of the expected.
Change your routine! Do you always approach things in the same way, do the same morning routine, have the same breakfast? Try doing things differently or out of order. See how that changes your perspective and gets you past the block.
Brainstorm differently. Do you keep a mental or physical list of ideas? Do you normally just do whatever pops into your head? Try brainstorming differently — such as mind maps, word clouds, flow charts, or drawing out ideas instead of listing them.
Doodle. Whether you write, draw, design, or anything else, try just closing your eyes and moving a pencil on paper. Let your mind relax and just draw whatever comes to you. This is a great way to get out of your head.
Write by hand! We type a LOT. We use computers and devices for everything. Try brainstorming or writing by hand and feel how different that is from typing.
Rearrange your workspace. Try rearranging the furniture or changing out the art on the walls of your workspace. If you don’t have space or time to move furniture, try rearranging the stuff on your desk and reorganizing your desk drawers. Change your space, change your perspective.