How many followers do you have on Twitter? How often do you blog? When was the last time you updated your website? If your answer to any of the above is to scowl furiously and give a big sigh, you are not alone.
It would be fair to say that we freelancers have an uneasy relationship with the idea of marketing.
Deep down, we know that promoting ourselves and our services makes a lot of sense. It is a crowded world out there and we know we can’t just sit back and hope that potential clients will somehow magically find us and get in touch.
But at the same time, the thought of going round shouting about how brilliant we are makes us feel really uncomfortable. We also instinctively resent anything that takes us away from doing the work that actually makes us money.
It doesn’t help that we have no idea what kind of marketing we should be doing. Research by IPSE has found that many of us are unsure what market techniques will work for us.
Or how to target the right audience for our services. Or even what we should be telling potential clients about what we can offer them. Even when we do take the plunge, we don’t make it easy for ourselves. IPSE found that themost common forms of marketing used by freelancers are those trusty old favourites – networking, referrals and testimonials.
These are perfectly fine places start, but they should not be the whole story. First, because as anyone who has ever spent an evening clutching a glass of warm wine and a pile of business cards at a networking event will tell you, these can be unpredictable ways of getting work.
And second, because the internet has given us a whole new set of shiny marketing tools that can be far more effective than hoping that someone you did some work for five years ago will remember you and recommend you.
The real problem is that we are not committing enough time and effort to finding out how to do this properly. Indeed, the IPSE survey revealed that many of us feel we don’t have time to invest in building and implementing a marketing strategy.
But we need to make time. And if we don’t know what to do, we need to learn. That’s because when marketing is done right, it works.
I have a freelance writer friend who sets aside 20 per cent of his time every week to spend on marketing himself and his business. He sends out newsletters, he writes blogs for his website, he emails potential clients with articles they might find interesting, he is constantly sharing ideas on LinkedIn and Twitter.
I know another freelance writer who never does any marketing at all. In fact, he doesn’t even have a website. He has a tiny handful of followers on social media and last tweeted in 2015.
And guess what – my friend makes considerably more money than the second freelancer. About three times as much.
Like it or not, we have to get better at this stuff. More than that, we have to wholeheartedly embrace it. Not least because otherwise, my friend is going to get all the work. See you on LinkedIn.
By Rachel Bridge
*Rachel Bridge is a freelance writer and author. Her seventh book, Already Brilliant: play to your strengths in work and life, is published by Piatkus on 22 March 2018.