Freelancing Mistake: Limiting Clients

A writer (or any other freelance career works here, too) who lands one or two big clients that keep the writer busy full-time must keep marketing. I learned this valuable lesson very early in my writing career. My first paid writing assignments came in 2000, at the height of the dot com boom. As things starting falling apart, so did two of my big writing assignments.
Thankfully, writing was a side career at the time. It didn’t take much for me to start questioning my abilities and whether I should keep at it. So many people want to be writers — what makes me different? No matter my thinking (even back in high school), I pushed forward.
I decided to e-mail people I’ve met through networking, writing, interviewing, and so on. The result? Two new jobs! One of them was working for a company in Minnesota — miles from Texas. I still work for the guy after seven years and we met in person for the first time last February.
I’m lucky that my plate overfloweth, but it’s no time to get lazy with marketing. Companies go out of business, publishers stop using freelancers, businesses change their priorities. Though e-mail requests for quotes come in often, they don’t always pan out or potential clients get sidetracked with other priorities.
Marketing doesn’t mean cold calling — I don’t even do that because the relay service messes up first impressions. Marketing can be:
* staying in touch with an e-mail, phone call or other means.
* sending an occasional newsletter (that offers value).
* keeping Web content fresh (like this blog).
* participating in an e-mail discussion or group forum (meaningfully, not to promote your business).
* asking friends and colleagues for referrals.
Keep marketing. Two highly recommended books for help with marketing are Get Clients Now! and Book Yourself Solid.

3 thoughts on “Freelancing Mistake: Limiting Clients”

  1. Meryl, I agree with everything you say here.

    I’m glad you stressed the importance of consistent marketing, especially when things are busy or are going well in your business.

    What’s interesting is that all, except one, of the marketing strategies you listed are the top 2 most effective marketing strategies for professional services CJ Hayden outlines in her book “Get Clients Now!”. They are the most effective, because they offer a high-touch (outreach) approach and increase your credibility.

    Point #3 falls under one of 2 categories:
    If you’re blogging, it falls under the Writing category (this strategy falls in the middle because, while it increases your visibility and credibility, you’re not reaching out directly to your audience)
    If you’re talking strictly about your website, it falls under the Advertising banner (which is the least effective marketing strategy for entrepreneurs in the service industry, because it offers you visibility only).

    Thanks so much for sharing and for helping your readers understand that marketing has nothing to do with the hard sell, but it’s about building and maintaining relationships on a consistent basis.

    I’ve added your blog to my faves.

  2. These are good suggestions. For my part, I find running free, useful seminars about writing for business people is very effective. Almost all my work this year has come from that. More marketing tips in today’s post on my blog: Ten (free) ways to get more business ( I’m going to add your post into mine as a must-read because you add some suggestions that FreelanceSwitch and I didn’t cover. Thanks.


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