I have been gainfully employed as a freelance writer for the past three decades. During this time, I have ridden the waves of the proverbial feast-or-famine cycles. When I was flush with work, I didn’t spend much time marketing. When I had little work, I worked to find work. It’s a pattern I know well — and have executed successfully numerous times. Yet, I am still nervous about my next round of self-promotion.
Self-promotion is the bane of many freelancers; yet, without it we could never build sustaining careers. Few freelancers I know want to spend their time making cold calls, sending promotions, and chit-chatting with potential clients at industry events. We would rather be writing. However, the freelance lifestyle demands self-promotion — and on a regular basis. The freelance life is rarely stable in the way that full-time jobs typically are. Our income is tied to our ability to continually find new clients.
Three-and-a-half years ago, I hit the equivalent of the “freelance jackpot,” just as the economy was tanking. In March 2008, a former client contacted me with a writing project: updating one of his product’s brochures. That assignment led to another, and another, and another, as he launched new products and updated existing ones. I wrote all his marketing materials, from web copy to white papers: And I stayed steadily employed almost exclusively with him — until now.
I feel extremely lucky to have made it as a freelancer for 30 years, including through the country’s recent economic crisis. But in the past few years I have become so comfortable with my steady work for this one company that I lost touch with the local business world. In fact, I have no idea how the economic crisis has impacted life for freelance writers in my area. I am about to find out.
The steady work I’ve enjoyed for this company is coming to a close. My client now has all of his marketing and sales material up-to-date. He will likely employ me for small projects in the future, but nothing that will pay all the bills every month.
Very soon I will be, once again, taking the steps necessary to market myself to potential clients. I will create a contact list, start cold calling my contacts, follow up with hot leads, attend networking events — and hope that I find enough work to keep myself in food, housing, health care, and other essentials long into the future.
I’ve followed the self-promotion path dozens of time in the up-and-down world that is my life as a freelancer. This time I will do something a little different. I will document my search for new clients on this blog — and share my experiences with other freelance writers.
As I write this blog, I hope to hear from other freelance writers about how they are fairing in today’s business world. Please share details about the freelance climate in your area, the impact of the economic crisis on freelancing, and how you are promoting yourself to stay gainfully employed as a freelancer.
It’s a good time to learn from each other.