When I first built my website, I thought it would be a ‘Field of Dreams’ type deal, as in “If you build it, they will come”.
Turns out I was wrong, about that as well as the quote. (Because, as any self-respecting film buff will know, the quote is actually “If you build it, he will come.”)
Sure, I had the odd passer by who would stumble upon my site and then use the contact form to try to sell me something like viagra, and I even had the odd genuine enquirer.
The trouble was that I had no need for viagra and needed more than just the odd person to visit my website/baseball field.
I needed clients. Plural.
See, I’d been trying all sorts over the preceding months, guest posting, cold emailing, social media marketing etc. and no-one was biting.
I had even abandoned my principles by joining Twitter (trust me, abandoning your principles is easier than it sounds when you’re poor).
So where was I going wrong?
I’d been doing the job for long enough and had enough good feedback from enough clients over the years to know I was skilled at what I did. And yet I hadn’t been able to find any work in over three months.
Clearly my marketing strategy had to change
What I realised was that whilst I was undoubtedly good at the writing lark, what I wasn’t so good at was the marketing side of things.
It felt terribly immodest and un-British of me to shout about why people should choose my services over the next copywriter. The problem was that I was still thinking like an introverted writer, when I should have been thinking like a businesswoman.
However, my image of the business world was of people in expensive suits, drinking overpriced coffee and speaking to each other in a combination of cliches and hyperbole, which is about as far away from the world that I live in as is humanly possible.
But then the realisation hit me like a right hook from Tyson Fury — but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t think like a business women, even if I didn’t talk or look like the stupid stereotypes I had in my head.
So first, I had to decide what kind of businesswoman I wanted to be.
- What’s important to me?
- What kind of writer do I want to be?
- What kind of clients do I want to attract?
By asking myself these simple questions and having a bloody good think about the answers, I realised that being a good businesswoman didn’t mean I had to buy a Prada suit and sign myself up to the next series of ‘The Apprentice’. It just meant that I had to understand and become skilled at every aspect of my job, not just the writing part.
Freelancing can be a lonely business
I love being a freelancer, but the thing about being a freelancer is there’s no-one to fall back on when the going gets tough.
And here’s the real kicker — there’s no-one else to blame.
So I realised that if I wanted to keep being my own boss and keep being a freelancer, I had to learn how to market like a pro.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that I suddenly have all the answers — I’m still learning and make mistakes along the way. But I don’t shy away from the business side of things like I used to. I’m not too modest to promote my skills and services. And I’m not scared to put myself forward for jobs and opportunities. Well, not as scared.
Ghost and gangsters probably aren’t the answer
So, if you want to be a freelancer of any description, don’t be a delusional fool like me and base your whole marketing strategy on a film about a man who builds a baseball field for ghosts.
Or, if you must base your marketing strategy on a film, at least make it one that’s vaguely about business, like The Social Network or The Godfather. Then at least you can learn how to steal ideas from your friends, pretend like they’re your own and make a shit load of money. Or you could simply threaten people into employing you by ‘making them an offer they can’t refuse’.
But on second thoughts, I probably wouldn’t recommend stealing from people or threatening potential clients with violence, as that kind of behaviour is frowned upon in the freelance community.
You’re much better off marketing the hell out of your business and making a name for yourself that way. And if that doesn’t work out, at least you know you’ll always have a Plan B to fall back on.
Right, now you better subscribe to my blog or at least share it on social media, otherwise I’ll have to inform my business partner, Mr Corleone. Plus I know a bunch of ghosts with baseball bats. And Kevin Costner. Or it might just be that I’m delusional, in which case I reckon a pity-subscribe is in order.