Marketing That Doesn’t Suck

What’s on the iPod: Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons

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freelance, writing

What a wonderful weekend! We had family in town, and it was just so much fun to walk together, eat together, and talk together. A really nice time, although I will say Friday night was an experience. We’d decided to take them out to eat at our new favorite restaurant in the city. Twenty-six miles. Thirty-five minute ride. Right. Try two hours, and that’s including getting off the expressway and taking back roads, which were nearly as jammed up. Never has it taken two hours to get into the city. I wonder how long it would have been if we’d stayed on the expressway? I shudder to think.

The restaurant did a great job in accommodating us. In fact, they were accommodating a lot of late-comers — the place was a ghost town when we walked in. It was booked solid, too, but the traffic had everyone running at least an hour behind. And sadly, the food wasn’t spectacular like the first night we’d visited, though his brother thought his dish was superb.

I know I said I’d start with my themed blogging today, but Kate asked a very good question on Friday, and I didn’t want to ignore it. She saidI am feeling completely burnt out by marketing and social media linking. Sometimes, I even feel that social media marketing is killing writers’ development as writers. Not that 140 character sentences aren’t a skill…How do you deal with all those complexities and still get your writing done?”

Great question.

Here’s how I deal with the complexities, which don’t seem like complexities once you’re able to break it down into a system:

Schedule it. Just like I schedule my lunch, I schedule my marketing. Early morning isn’t always my best time, so I’ll often choose time right before or right after lunch. I’m winding down (or already wound down) and I don’t have to break my concentration.

Limit it. I spend 15 minutes (maybe up to 30 minutes) per day on marketing. I don’t spend hours even if I have hours. There’s something that happens internally when I spend more than 30 minutes marketing — I start to feel overwhelmed, depressed, almost desperate, even if I’m doing fine with my workload and earnings. Plus marketing shouldn’t feel like a job.

Mix it up. Kate mentioned 140 characters. Yes, it’s a skill to market on Twitter, but it’s also important to market elsewhere. Many of my marketing attempts go out in emailed queries, LinkedIn group connections, or even snail mail. I don’t use the phone to market, but if you’re great on the phone, do it. And try a few magazine editors — it never hurts to vary the clients, either.

Make it natural. Kate also mentioned she feels burned out by social media linking. Kate, don’t try so hard! Find some favorite blogs. Read them regularly (because you want to, not because you have to), and comment. That’s an easy way to get your name and link circulating. Also, remember the rule — of every 20 tweets, 18 should be sharing or conversation. Only 2 tweets for every 20 should be selling your skills.

Hopefully, this helps writers like Kate find a nice balance in their marketing and social media use.

Writers, how do you fit your marketing in?

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  • Devon Ellington November 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Like you, I schedule it, and I try not to spend too much time on it at once, or I get discouraged.

    The exception is promoting the books — I find if I set aside a few hours to really focus on that every week, it's more useful than the business writing marketing, which works better in shorter spurts.

    I think we have to remember that social media is a form of conversation, not monologue. Once we start INTER-acting, rather than acting and re-acting, it benefits everyone.

  • Kimberly Ben November 19, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I have to schedule marketing too otherwise it doesn't get done. I'm working on "mixing things up" a bit more. I don't like cold calling. I know it works – I did it for several years when I worked for the newspaper; it's just not a good method for me.

    I don't market much at all on social media. I know some writers find it to be an effective means of regularly generating leads (I've gotten some work here and there from Twitter and LinkedIn), but you really have to be careful about how you use it, as you mentioned in your post. Every update can't all about you and what you're selling. Like Devon said, it's about interacting, sharing valuable information with others and making genuine connections.

  • Paula November 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    As soon as I read Kate's comment I thought, "Lori has to write a blog post about that!"

    I don't schedule marketing, but I do try to keep it at the beginning or end of the work day so it doesn't interfere with the research, interviews, writing and editing. But when a good idea presents itself, I'll jump.

    That happened Friday. I was reading a knitting blog and decided to send a quick LOI via e-mail, asking if they use outside writers, too.

  • Mridu Khullar Relph November 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I'm all or nothing with social media, which sort of defeats the purpose AND affects my productivity. So yes, scheduling seems to be the only real option that works. Another benefit of scheduling tweets is that if you space them out over a 24-hour period, you're reaching people all over the world, not just in your own time zone.

  • Lori November 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Amen on the conversation, Devon! I'm so tired of seeing people talk AT me. Boring.

    Kim, exactly. I use it probably as often as you do (not much), but when I do, it's usually after I've interacted quite a bit first.

    Great point, Mridu! I'm sure there are studies telling us when the best time to tweet is, but I'd rather just carry on the conversation at different time intervals.

  • Michael November 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Hey all.
    My first comment here so be gentle please. 🙂

    I think we writers need to accept the fact that social media and digital marketing is here to stay. What was once considered a fad is now the "be all" when it comes to marketing. And I think writers hate marketing in general and that's ok, but to truly capitalize on the numerous opportunities available to us, writers need to be even more proactive on the various social media platforms. So unfortunately, Kate might have to suffer through the link posting if social media is her chosen vehicle of marketing.

    Having said that, I'm not a fan of link posting either. I'm always on the lookout for other ways to market so I sign up for any marketing newsletter I find that may offer more creative ways to get the word out. Then once a week, I sift through the clutter and find the very best advice and try to apply it to my writing business.

    One site in particular is a fitness trainer turned fitness marketing guru named Bedros Keuilian. (I tend to think personal fitness training is very similar to freelance writing in a very basic sense so I lean towards his client gathering/retention strategies)I do admit some of his techniques are extreme but fundamentally, they are very applicable to a writer looking for different ways to market their services.

    Here's a link to his website:

    Poke around his site. He has a plethora of marketing ideas that can be applied immediately without the constant link posting.

    Hopefully this helps.