One of the things that comes up again and again in conversations I have with freelancers is how much they hate marketing. Oh, we love to write or design or develop, but when it comes to creating a brand and putting it out there, we often come up short.
Add to that the fact that many freelancers just don’t understand or have a knack for sales and you have a double-whammy.
Deadly Freelancing Sin #4: Ignoring Marketing And Sales
See, most freelancers, like I said in the first post of this series, are pretty good at what they do. It isn’t their inability to write or design that costs them their freelance business. It’s things like marketing and sales.
The hard truth of the matter is this: marketing and sales are at least as important as the rest of your business. Ignoring these areas or doing a half-assed job at them will almost guarantee failure. Now, don’t misunderstand me; if your product stinks, you’re not going to make it as a freelancer anyways.
However, the better you are at sales and marketing, the more successful your freelance business will be.
Take, for example, two freelancer writers I know:
- Freelancer #1 is a hotshot saleswoman who worked in corporate sales for years before becoming a writer. She’s an expert schmoozer, and has had as many as 40 people working in her freelance business at a time. She writes for a couple of hours each day, but she only writes the stuff she wants to write. She sends everything else off to her team.
- Freelancer #2 is tremendously talented. He’s young, hungry and has amazing potential as a writer. The problem is this: he can’t seem to find enough gigs. The gigs he does find tend to be way below his pay grade, but he takes them anyways. He hasn’t yet figured out that freelance writing isn’t about writing; it’s about getting out there and grabbing opportunities. It’s about competing for a client’s business and then keeping it. In part, it’s because he hates the idea of marketing and sales.
The only difference between these two is how they view sales and marketing. In fact, I’d even give freelancer #2 a slight advantage in the area of writing ability.
So, how do you avoid this sin? Well, for starters, you’ve got to get educated. You’ve got to spend some time understanding what exactly marketing is. Study some of the marketing gurus. Seth Godin is a personal favorite, but there are plenty of others if you don’t like his approach. Talk to other freelancers about what’s been successful for them and what hasn’t.
So, in that vein, you’ve got to get educated about sales, too. Here again, you should turn to experts in the field. Zig Ziglar is a good choice, although there are plenty of others. These experts can teach you how to close, and how not to leave money on the table.
Beyond that, you’ve got to understand the difference between sales and marketing. The two complement one another, but they’re not the same thing.
- Marketing is the process of putting yourself out there, announcing your presence and your brand.
- Sales is the process of interacting with potential clients and includes everything from the initial contact right up until the deal is sealed.
Even more than education, though, you may need a change of heart. For some folks, the whole idea of sales and marketing conjures up all sorts of evil. You think of the used car salesman who doesn’t tell you about the faulty transmission, or you think of the slick marketing guy who can’t stop talking about what a great marketing guy he is. These stereotypes exist, but they’re by no means pervasive.
To have a successful freelance business, you’ve got to be able to market and sell in good conscience. You’ve got to believe that your product is worth talking about, and that it’s worth buying. Some of this comes from confidence in your work, but some of it goes beyond that. It requires you to truly believe in the value you offer.
So, what do you think? Do sales and marketing come naturally to you? Have you had to cultivate a different attitude about sales and marketing than the one you had when you started freelancing?
About the author: Bob Younce is a full-time Internet writer and writing mentor living in Linwood, Michigan. He is dedicated to helping Internet writers to achieve their dreams. Visit Bob at The Writing Journey or follow him on Twitter.