The number one question for so many freelancers is “How do I get more clients?” And yet as a coach to freelancers when I dig in deeper, I find that most of them are not marketing at all or are instead doing it in sporadic bursts. Waiting until that huge project you’re working on is wrapping up to start sending pitches again is a big mistake. The ebb and flow of freelance work means you need to be consistent with your marketing, even though you might dial it down during busier seasons.
Spending even a consistent two hours per week on your business keeps the embers warm. This is truly a case when slow and steady wins the race and spending two hours a week marketing your business is what I call “low maintenance marketing.” (For more on this concept, there’s an entire chapter devoted to it in my book, Six Figure Freelancer.)
I’ve been fully booked (although the definition of what that means for me has changed over the years) for eight years in my freelance business. The primary reason for that is that I never stop marketing. Yes, even when I’m fully booked, I’m doing light marketing, updating blogs, revising my profiles, creating new work samples, and keeping my leads warm. That means that when a project ends or I stop working with a client I’ve got a pool of people to reach out to right away.
Here’s how to get things done even when you have limited time for marketing tasks.
Pick Your Top Two Marketing Methods
Another common freelancer failure is trying to do too many marketing tasks at once without being really committed to any of them. That looks something like this: “Well, I’ve been hearing that Twitter is good for landing clients, and then I’ll check out the job boards, and it’s time I finally had a website, and I wonder if I should be doing my cold pitches over LinkedIn?”
This creates a massive to do list and a gap in between where you’re at now and where you need to go. Instead, get focused on the top two places where 90% of your clients come from. Release yourself from the need to do any other marketing outside of those if you want to keep things moving under two hours per week.
For example, my top two methods are pitching on LinkedIn and scouring Upwork. I check Upwork only a few times a week for ten minutes or less each time, but I post daily on LinkedIn and connect with 5-10 new people a day there. (That last one is a habit you can even do in line at the grocery store or waiting at the doctor’s office from your phone.)
Rather than trying to learn all the new things, I laser in on how I can get more systematized and organized with only those two methods and stay consistent even when I’m busy each week with other client work.
Take on Small, Meaningful Marketing Habits
Don’t make some promise to yourself that you’ll send 25 pitches this week. You’ll end the week with zero feeling frustrated with yourself. Fellow coach and founder of Successful Freelance Mom Abbi Perets feels the same way.
She says, “When your marketing happens naturally in the day to day living of your life, it takes far less time, and is far more effective. A big mistake a lot of freelancers make is to say, “Well, Monday is my marketing day. I’ll put in 8 hours then.” If I had to spend eight hours a day marketing my business, I would cry. This is setting yourself up for failure. You’ll get sick, the sitter won’t show up, you’ll have a client deadline that gets moved up, and you won’t do anything.”
If you create habits around your marketing and make it a routine instead, you’ll get things done in smaller pockets. For example, check LinkedIn every morning while you’re sipping your coffee. Leave one meaningful comment on someone else’s posts. Not just an “I agree.” Or send a quick video pitch to a certain client you’d love to work with. Don’t let yourself break for lunch until you do this task to keep you motivated.
Choose Something You Can Be Consistent With
Taking on a big project like launching a website is going to require a lot of upfront work and cost on your end. The luster of that will fade if the project takes longer than expected or just doesn’t bring in leads. So pick marketing activities you can be consistent with. There’s no reason that any freelancer doesn’t have the time to send two pitches per week or connect with ten people on LinkedIn. That might not feel like a lot, but you’ll get yourself into the habits of it and those small results will stack up over time, too.
Calendar it All
Make marketing part of your routine by putting it on your calendar. I choose the days when prospects are most likely online and not super busy on my chosen platforms for work mentioned above. I time my pitches and job board scans for Tuesday-Thursday and get that booked on my calendar as marketing time. Abbi says, “I have reminders for everything from “switch the laundry” to “text something funny to my husband.” I also set reminders for following up with open proposals, too.
Use Past Wins to Open New Doors
Don’t forget to celebrate when a new project is closed out or a client leaves you great feedback. These are excellent mini marketing moments. Post about it on your social channels- being active on platforms gets your name back in front of your ideal clients and reminds them of what you have to offer.
Now is the time to make marketing a regular activity for your freelance business!