The best piece of advice I have when it comes to self-promotion is to treat yourself as a client. I’m a freelance copywriter, PR and project manager and recently I’ve done a bit of an audit on my own PR output.
For a while during my first year of freelancing I was inundated with project work, which was great! But when those projects came to an end I was left at square one – I’d been so busy doing client work that I’d left no time to promote my own services (I hadn’t needed to – I was turning away work, why would I want to attract more?!), but when my next space for a new client came up, I realised I should have been doing the promo all along.
When I went back to working regular hours after maternity (I refuse to use the word ‘leave’ because that would imply I left business alone for a while!), I had to get really clever about my work time. Childcare is a huge expense to any parent, but particularly ones without a regular pattern of income. Since having Maddie, it has been really tempting to focus on client work with my work hours, as it can be really frustrating to do any unpaid work when I’m paying out to childminders for the benefit of that time. But it is vital. You wouldn’t abandon client work in favour of another client, so don’t treat yourself any differently.
Now, I dedicate one full day a week to my own marketing when I can, and at least one hour a day every other day. That totals up to a minimum of 7 hours a week – effectively one day – so even if I spend all of my official work days on client stuff, I know as long as I’m scheduling blog posts, planning social media content and reaching out to new contacts in the evenings then I’m covering myself. When I can, I’ll put far more effort in and spend time doing things like engaging in forums, Facebook groups, watching business YouTube videos and reading tutorials on everything from money management to Instagram growth.
Since organising my time like this, I’ve slowly discovered what works for me and which channels are best for my own marketing, i.e. which bits I should spend the time on if I’m low on available hours. These will vary for everyone, but if like me, you worry about the time you spend working ‘unpaid’ (airquotes because all work pays off eventually, but that doesn’t help with the mortgage right now, does it?), then I’ve put together my top priorities for self-promotion:
Consider which social media channel you want to improve the most, then priortise working on this one for a while. You can hit the share button to easily replicate the content across all your channels, though be careful that this is appropriate for you – i.e. on Instagram I will usually talk about a new blog by directing people to the link in my bio – this doesn’t work well copied across to Facebook. Once you have a good following and engagement in one place, you can focus on increasing the output of others.
Consider how your previous clients have found you, and focus on that route. Is it social media, in-person networking or email campaigns? Don’t spread yourself too thinly – you’ll only be taking time away from the channels that work best for you.
Think about who your clients are – not the business, but the person from the business that makes contact – where do they spend time online? How do they look for freelancers? Be where they are!
Join Facebook groups. For a while I thought Facebook groups were just something else which took up too much space in my newsfeed (What’s for tea tonight? I don’t know, but get off my screen!), but then I found groups such as Doing It For The Kids, Freelance PRs and The Freelance Life, and they’ve made my work infinitely easier. Sometimes it’s practical tips or job postings, and other times it’s just knowing there are other people out there doing the same things you are, facing the same challenges of typing out emails while making your kid’s lunch and generally doing a balancing act of work and parenting that doesn’t make you feel like a neglectful and guilt-ridden parent.
Do you feel like you struggle to make time for your own marketing? Comment and let me know what you focus on and what you’ve found the most helpful – your answers will help others too!