November 5, 2015

Do I REALLY Have to Promote Myself?

Do I REALLY Have to Promote Myself?

Without Marketing, You May Starve

As most freelancers, I'm not so keen on marketing. Or even worse, picking up the phone to sell myself. You are probably the same.

What I really want is to pick and choose what clients and projects to take on. But here's the dirty secret. The freedom to pick and choose is reserved for those freelancers with a steady flow of inquiries.

And a steady flow of inquiries never happens without marketing.

Simple as that.

Without Marketing, More Famine Than Feast

Without marketing, no inquiries. Without inquiries, you will starve (or at least your business). With good inquiries, you might even thrive. Yet, if you are like me, you prefer to starve before doing any serious marketing. At least to begin with. But when the hunger becomes unbearable, I will resort to what I hate even more than marketing. I will start contacting total strangers to sell myself. I will cold call, pump out cold emails or use whatever icy cold method my panicking brain can come up with.

After being rejected, ignored and snubbed a few times, I always wish I had done that marketing everyone told me to do. Now I'm motivated, but it's too late.

Today’s marketing will never pay tomorrow's rent.

It pays next year's rent. Marketing has to be done well ahead of the panic phase. It's a long-term game.

Where to Start

Well-meaning people, including me, throw marketing advice at you all day long. It's only natural to feel overwhelmed. I'm a trained, professional marketer. Even so, I have difficulties prioritizing my own marketing activities. But I know this, all effective marketing starts with picking a niche. You need to decide what to do and for whom. It's your first and most important decision.

A friend of mine, Ilise Benun, has been coaching creative professionals for 25+ years. This is what she says about picking a niche.”

Ilise Benun. Click to visit Ilise's website!

“Picking a niche really makes your life simpler. It makes your choices easier. It makes you feel less scattered. It brings a sense of calm.”

Ilise is a smart cookie. She continues, “You may wonder, ‘Do I really need to pick a niche?'

  • No, you don’t have to. It’s your life, it’s your business — you can do whatever you want. But if you don’t choose a market, you will most likely be a blur in the eyes of your prospects.
  • No, but if you don’t, you won’t know where to find your best prospects. You’ll be going to all sorts of events. You’ll be taking whatever comes along.
  • No, but if you don’t, you won’t know what to say on your website, or in your email newsletter, because for those marketing tools to work, you have to be saying something that’s relevant to someone specific.
  • No, but if you don’t, you won’t know what to blog about, you won’t know what to podcast about and you won’t be able to do social media, because you won’t know who you’re talking to.
  • No, but if you don’t, you won’t know who to say no to.

Picking a niche is where your marketing starts. But even if it's your first and most important marketing decision, it doesn't need to be a hard decision.

Ilise's advice comes straight out of her excellent Pick a Niche-Kit. If you want a great start for your marketing, you should consider buying it! I'm proud to say I've contributed to it in a small way.

More Pick a Niche-resources: