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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Freelance Mistake #3: Failing to Market

What's the mistake to discuss today? Failure to market...or failure to market enough...or failure to market consistently.

You don’t have power over the amount of work that's assigned to you, but you do control how much time you spend pitching ideas and marketing yourself. The tricky thing is that when you’re swamped with assignments, it’s all too easy to stop querying . . . only to find that a month later, you’re completely caught up and have no new work coming your way. (Alas, I'm living this firsthand and it's my own fault. I've spent the last two months engrossed in researching and writing Goodbye Byline, and guess what? I'm close to finishing the book, but am looking at few assignments at the moment, which means I'm going to have a lousy fall money-wise unless I bust my marketing butt immediately.)

So, do as I say, not as I'm doing at the moment. One of the techniques I’ve used to help ensure a steady stream of work is mentally dividing assignments into three categories: work that’s been completed and accepted (and for which I’m awaiting payment); work that’s been turned in but hasn’t been approved by the editor or client yet; and assigned work that I still have to research and write. I then try to maintain a certain amount—say, $5,000—in each category at any given time. (The more you want to make, the more that amount should be.)

Let's call these categories A (work that I'm awaiting payment on), B (work that has been turned in but needs client approval), and C (work I still have to do. If I’m looking at $6,000 worth of work in category A, and another $5,000 in category B, that’s great, but if I only have a $2,000 assignment in category C, I know I need to get cracking to line up some more assignments or my checkbook will look pretty thin a couple of months from now.

Get the idea? Market aggressively, market frequently, market consistently--or your freelance business will suffer. Now I've got to sign off--and follow my own advice.