How can I make time for marketing and developing my freelance business?

The question

time-430625_1280I find I often struggle to carve out time alongside client work for marketing and developing my business. I’m grateful to be busy of course, but just watching my ideas gather dust is a bit of a motivation killer. I’d love to hear how other people manage this.

The answers

Kate Toon, The Clever Copywriting School

Yes, it can be tough to balance the needs of your customers with the needs of your own business. The key for me has been letting go of perfection and understanding that done is better than perfect. This helps me get ideas from my brain to the world much more quickly.

The four other main ways I’ve increased my marketing productivity have been:

Repurposing:  To take the stress off having to create new content I try to reuse old content. So I aim to update one old blog post a week and share that; I take client testimonials and make them into graphics; if I answer a customer question about copy, I reuse that answer as a tip on social media.

Batching: Writing two or three blogs in one go, creating 30 or so tweets in single sitting or working up 20 memes using a tool like Canva. By having an intense content creation period I find I get into the zone and get more done.

Automation:  I use Hootsuite to schedule social media posts for the entire month, then just bob in with extras when I feel the urge. I also use a plugin called Revive Old Post to reshare old posts on Twitter (there’s a pro version but I just use the free one).

Booking:  Occasionally I’ll book my own marketing jobs in as if they were a job, I use Basecamp to manage my projects, so I’ll set deadlines and tasks for myself. It sounds silly but it works.

I don’t have a marketing plan, I just aim for one blog post and one email a month across my three websites. Anything more than that is a bonus.

Also, don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s easy to look at others and think ‘wow they’re so prolific’, but for all you know they have zero clients and all the time in the world! It’s all a compromise and earning hot sticky moolah always comes first!

Leif Kendall, Kendall Copywriting

I would use a mixture of four different strategies to get my development and marketing projects up and running: time-boxing, outsourcing, time off, and fear.

Firstly, I would try the Pomodoro technique to make a little progress with my projects each day. You can do a lot in 25 minutes. Although you may need to work extra-hard to make up the time for your clients.

Then I would outsource parts of the project, especially if they have a design or development component. If you commit money to something you’re more likely to see it through.

I might take time off to get things started. Take it as ‘holiday’, pretend to be sick – or even sub-contract some of your client work. You’ll only earn a fraction of the sale, but you’ll retain the client and make progress with your projects.

I would also use fear to motivate myself. I would remind myself that, however well-stacked my workload might be, it can all disappear in an instant. Long-held clients can vanish overnight – even if you’ve done nothing wrong. You may be busy today, but tomorrow could hold nothing but an empty inbox. Your marketing efforts today are the best insurance for a bright future.

And try to go easy on yourself. If you’re too busy to work on marketing, then you’re clearly doing lots of things right!

Mel Fenson, Work Your Words

I completely feel your pain. The fear of missing a client deadline is the best way to push my own marketing to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list. But when I commissioned a new (expensive) website, I figured I’d better try and recoup the money through increased business.

I started by making a firm commitment to write a useful blog for potential clients once a week. And I set up a subscription form to my blog in the hope of building my marketing list. I nearly fell over when the first person subscribed! But that subscriber was the stick I needed to keep blogging every week. They’d honoured me with their email address, so I felt obliged to stick to my side of the bargain.

I then realised that adding more pages to my website would help me attract new clients. Which meant finding more time in the week. I invented ‘Website Wednesday’ (WW) where – come what may – I would spend time planning and making changes to my site.

Amazingly, this plan has worked. And has even been enjoyable as each week sparks new ideas. Although WW was put to the test last week when I was overloaded with client work. I set my alarm an hour earlier but still only managed to draft a few questions for an FAQ page on my site. I’d liked to have done more, but at least it was a start. And of course there’s always next week!

  • Do you have a problem you’d like to bring to the Copywriting Clinic? Email with your question and we’ll see if we can help.


3rd March 2017

Charlotte Fleming

I think all freelancers face the same problem. If you’ve enough time to market yourself you’re worrying about paying the bills and if you’ve enough work you don’t have time for the marketing.

The only way is to set aside time every week, preferably at the same time (I love the ideaof Website Wednesday;I tend to do Marketing Monday, which is a bit woollier), and use Hootsuite or similar to automate social media.

I’m working hard on LinkedIn at the moment, and it’s taking way too much time out of my week!

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