Free Advice Friday: Finding Your Process

What’s on the iPod: Fast Cars and Freedom by Rascal Flatts

A slow, albeit nice week. I enjoyed having time to really concentrate a full day to poetry. The article I’m writing is roughly outlined and I’ve lined up some interviews already, so it’s just waiting until the contacts can talk. I worked on a few small projects, but so far the big stuff is still out of sight. Looming (I can feel it), but not yet here.

So I continue to market as though nothing were in the works. You have to.

I saw a discussion on a the 5 Buck Forum recently about how and where to market. That’s a pretty big question, so the discussion went in a variety of directions. Each response was good, and it was based on that writer’s particular experience. That I love. No one pushed the only way to do things, and everyone learned something new.

So that begs the question — how do you find your particular process when you’re brand new at it?

That’s this week’s Free Advice Friday topic.

Finding Your Process
For me, finding my way in freelancing was a series of hit-and-miss attempts. When I tried something that worked, I stuck with it. At first, maybe I stuck with it a little too much. It can be dangerous too, because the work either dries up quickly or your stagnate at the same work paying the same rate. Ideally, the goal should be to find a mix of projects and clients so that your workload is staggered, your rate is constantly improving, and you’re interested in what you’re doing.

Here are some ways to use what you already know and improve the way you do things:

Explore what intrigues you. For instance, Paula Hendrickson mentioned letters of introduction on this blog a little over three years ago. I asked her to write a blog post about it. Her post changed my marketing for the better. While not every idea you hear or read is going to work for you, trust your gut. When something catches your attention, look into it a little more.

Brainstorm. Get out a sheet of paper or a fresh Word document and just write out every conceivable way in which you can contact a potential client. Be creative — don’t edit your ideas. Brainstorming is the fun part where you can write down whatever you like. If you can dream it up even if you have no idea if it will work, it belongs on this list.

Choose two. They don’t even have to be ideas that will necessarily work. Right now, you’re just going to choose what appeals and play with them. Ever wanted to do viral marketing? Dream up various ways in which to reach clients through this method. Want to send out printed newsletters? Think of whom it is you’d send them to. Just play. Don’t think it’s all written in stone. It’s not.

Make a schedule. My own schedule is pretty simple — I reach out to clients via email and social media every week. I write down how many people per week I’ll contact and how I’ll reach them. I do this every week. Also, I keep it small. That’s key because part of your schedule should include following up on previous contact.

Advertise it. I use the Accountability thread in the 5 Buck Forum to report what my marketing efforts will be on any given week. I say to advertise your schedule because it’s a super way to motivate yourself into actually doing what you’ve planned. If you don’t want to advertise your efforts online, partner with someone and make sure you report in regularly on your progress.

Check it. Every month, I do that right here on the Monthly Assessment thread (and I invite you to join in any time you like). If you’re looking at your efforts every month, you’re able to see what’s working, what isn’t, and where a change is in order. For example, why keep hosting webinars if attendance has dropped to practically no one? Or why send newsletters that two people out of 1,000 are opening?

Change it. Don’t be afraid to try something new. In fact, strive for new methods. If something isn’t working, replace it with something that might. And as always, check it and adjust as necessary. Also, push yourself into new areas in which to market when you feel yourself stagnating in the same area. It could be that you’ve outpaced where you are now.

Writers, how did you come by your current process? 
How does that compare with what you were doing last month/last year/two years ago?

About the author




  • Anne Wayman March 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    stumble in? grow into it? watch what works and do more of that? Try something new?

    Working with a coach right now… coach/consultant which is new for me.

  • Paula March 7, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    I'm glad to hear I was able to share an marketing idea the Marketing Queen hadn't already conquered.

    Not long ago I realized I'm sending fewer queries than I did a couple years ago. Laziness more than anything, so I'd like to up the number of queries I send this year.

  • Eileen March 9, 2014 at 12:07 am

    I know this is unusual, but I haven't had to do any active marketing since about 2008. My web designer optimized my site so that it comes up within the first 3 organic search results on page 1 for obvious keywords for anyone looking for a copywriter in my industry. I hand-built a mailing list in 2008 and mailed a lumpy mail lead generating package offering a free report to 104 marketing directors. That's it. Every client since then has been a direct or indirect result of those two actions, or a referral outside that loop. Every time things start to slow down a little, I start thinking about doing another mailing … and then the phone rings. I'm fortunate in that my clients tend to stay with me for long periods of time. My all time largest client was responsible for $200,000 in revenue between 2010 and today. So, obviously, I swear by these methods and heartily recommend them to every copywriter I know.

  • Lori Widmer March 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Anne, I thought you'd worked with one in the past? That's what happens when I get older — things sort of mesh together. 🙂

    Paula, you're certainly no slouch when it comes to marketing! Hey, I'm not the queen; I'm just ridiculously devoted to marketing. LOL

  • Lori Widmer March 10, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Great seeing you here again, Eileen. Yours is a prime example of finding that right thing — that sweet spot. I've been in awe of your "lumpy mail" idea. I think I finally hit on a good one for myself, so I'll share that privately once I work it out.

    Great results! I love it. 🙂

  • Eileen March 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    I'd love to see your lumpy mail, Lori. I should also add that I do not work full time. On average, about 25 hours. So if I needed to fill another 15 with work, I would just build another list with fresh prospects and go from there.

  • Paula March 10, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I have to say I've always been intrigued by Eileen's lumpy mail concept…and am looking for the right clients or potential clients to use it with.

  • Lori Widmer March 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    My lumpy mail is in the works, Eileen. Luckily, I have connections in the "lumpy mail" industry. 🙂 I love that you do all that on a part-time biz.

    Paula, you talk to Oprah. I think you don't need lumpy mail so much!