This week, I've invited fellow writers to share their marketing tips and tricks, either as guest bloggers or by answering a few of my questions. Today's guest blogger is Sara Aase, a freelance writer who blogs about personal finance at Cash on the Barrelhead.
As a freelance writing mom, she knows more than a little about squeezing as much quality time out of her work hours as possible. If you're in a similar situation, I hope this will help you feel a little less alone. If you don't have kids, read on--there's plenty we can all learn from her shrewd approach to marketing.
"How many hours are you working a week?" is the first question that freelance writing moms ask each other. (Dads, I don't mean to exclude you--but if you exist, I haven't met you.) Freelancing as a business is properly a full-time-plus endeavor. You need eight to ten hours a day to market, do research, schedule interviews, write, blog, maintain your social networking sites, answer email, invoice, follow-up, etc.
Marketing, in particular, is often the first activity to fall off after you have kids. If, like me, your business has taken big body blows after each birth, you know what I'm talking about. It's hard to advertise your services if you can't count on a reliable way to be reliable. I don't know where you are in that precarious work-kid balance right now--and I'm not going to tell you it's easy to do this with limited hours, because it absolutely is not. But here's what I've learned, and I hope it helps:
The Personal Connection is Fastest
There's so much emphasis on querying for freelance writers that it's easy to forget to tap who you already know. The fastest and best way to get your name back out there and drum up work for yourself is to reconnect with old clients, colleagues, friends, and acquaintances. These people already know you or know of you. Tell them what you've written before, what you're writing now, and what you want to write.
You can do this:
- in big email blasts;
- through Facebook;
- through LinkedIn;
- on Twitter;
- by phone; or
- in person, as your schedule allows.
It's Okay to Say No to Some Goals, For Now
One of the hardest things to accept as a part-time freelancer is that I can't do everything or be everywhere all at once. I've had "join ASJA" on my list of professional goals for at least three years. But I'm going to defer that goal yet again for at least another year, and possibly even until 2012 when both kids are in school full-time. (I just shuddered as I typed "2012.")
Hopefully it won't have to wait that long. But this year, I can't afford the cost of joining, plus the cost of attending the conference in New York, which I'd like to do as a new member to take advantage of the extra bump for personal pitch. Plus, it's all I can do right now to keep up on the market guides and connections I have elsewhere. I felt so relieved that I know it's the right decision.
I've realized, working only about four hours a day, that it's most critical for me to market or write during that time. In order to boost the number of queries I can get out the door each week, I've hired a part-time assistant (a journalism-school graduate) to help me do research.
I also have her write up notes for me on webcasts (on using Twitter and LinkedIn effectively, for example) or other tasks I don't have time for. This is brand new for me, and only possible now because I'm working a steady 20 hours a week. If you ask yourself, "Who could I get to help me?" maybe you can think of other resources.
For example, maybe your sitter could scan clips for you if she has some downtime. Maybe you can hire your own (now older) son or daughter, or the neighbor kid. Maybe you've got a husband who is a crack transcriber.
And if you're falling apart reading this because it all just seems impossible, that's okay, too. Let yourself feel it, then pull yourself back together. Take a look back at what you've accomplished while you thought you were getting nowhere, because I bet it's a lot more than you think. Remember, the world needs your skills and your expertise, so give it to them, even if, for now, it's only a bit at a time.
Have other tips for maximizing marketing if you're short on time? Share them in the comments.