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Writers: Make Time for Marketing

Writers wear many hats:

The Thinking Cap of New Ideas.The Beret of Creative Artistry.
The Hard Hat of Beating Deadlines.
Not to mention the Funny Cake-Shaped Hat for Special Occasions.

Perhaps the most important hat you need to think about as a writer is the Cowboy Hat of Marketing.  You may wonder why your marketing hat is a cowboy hat. Or, you may still be a paragraph behind, wondering where you can get a Funny Cake-Shaped Hat. We’ll wait for you to catch up. Ready? Okay.

It’s the Cowboy Hat of Marketing because:

1. Cowboys make me think of round-ups, and when you market, you first have to round up and lasso opportunities.

2. Cowboys represent some of the hardest workers you’ll ever meet. Done right, your marketing will work hard, too.

3. People don’t take me seriously when I wear the cake-shaped hat while marketing.

Hmm… I seem to have wandered away from the main point.

The point I am trying to make is simple. At least once each week, you need to put on your marketing hat and sell yourself–Even when you have lots of projects to work on.

Freelance writing has a built-in tendency to be a feast or famine proposition. Either too many projects land on your desk at once, or too few. To counterbalance this trend, you need to create a steady flow of new projects. New projects come from… marketing!

I’ll admit, marketing is one of the least pleasant parts of my job. Over the years, I’ve developed a four-step plan that helps me get it done.

1. Schedule time for it. Let’s face it, if I didn’t put it on my calendar, it would never get done. Now, every Monday evening I set aside an hour to work on some type of marketing. One hour may not seem like much time, but it’s better than the zero hours that happen if it’s not on the schedule.

2. Create a long-term marketing plan. This sounds more complicated than it actually is. Think of it this way. Your marketing plan defines your goals and some possible ways to reach them. It can be as simple as a list of target markets you want to crack, a list of contacts at each, and a couple of notes about how you plan to approach them. If you want to create a more detailed plan, check Jennifer Mattern’s post: “Freelance Writers- How to Create a Marketing Plan and Marketing Campaign” on All Freelance Writing  The bottom line here is, it’s easier to grow your business and meet your goals if you have a direction in mind from the start.

3. Stick to a specific type of marketing during each session. For example, one Monday I might do nothing but seek markets for a stack of reprints I want to sell. On another, I may write a letter of introduction, and update my online portfolio and resume.

4. Save time with shortcuts for repetitive tasks. In his post “5 Tips for Marketing Your Freelance Business,” Colin Galbraith recommends creating standard templates for documents you write all the time. I use templates in one form or another for queries, newsletters, and email blasts all the time.

Do you have any other marketing tips? Share them in the comments.

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