October 7, 2010How much time should I invest in self-promotion?

Continuing my series of blog posts for freelancers starting out in this game, I thought I’d take time to answer the most important question of all. As I’ve already covered, time management isn’t easy — but it’s a necessary skill. Some weeks, you’re going to be doing nothing but revising copy for a Friday deadline. Other weeks, you’ll be skimming your favourite blogs and playing internet poker while you wait for your next job. So how do you manage your time?

Let’s break it into five days for simplicity. I’d say, on average, I spend three days a week working, another day a week chasing potential clients (doing spec work, replying to briefs etc) and of course writing and chasing invoices, doing my accounts, etc. That leaves one full fifth of my working week for self promotion. The truth is I probably don’t spend that long. I treat it as a half-day off. Yesterday I went to London’s Design Museum rather than work. But really, I should have been updating my blog.

There’s more to self-promotion than blogging…

But it’s a good place to start. Once you’ve written your blog, it’s there forever — constantly generating inbound links and visits through organic search. Yesterday’s tweet is yesterday’s news. A blog post is for life, not just for this morning. That doesn’t mean blogging should be the be-all and end-all of your self promotion. Here are some other things you should be doing:

  • If you’re a social media sort, you should be interacting with other people online. Don’t see this as an opportunity to promote your brand. See it as a chance to talk to your peers and colleagues and make sure they remember who you are. Not many copywriters use twitter. But most web designers do. If you’re a web based copywriter, it’s a chance to remind your clients you’re still here.
  • If you’re not a social media sort, you should be networking. Remember when networking was more than just tweeting? Well, if you’re in a big city like London, there’s still all sorts of networking events going on. Be sure to bring lots of business cards. And try not to get too drunk.
  • Keep in touch with old clients. Ongoing relationships mean you don’t have to spend as much time looking for new work. And as your relationship develops, you’ll gain a better understanding of what they want. That means you spend less time re-drafting because you get the job done first time.
  • Use AdWords. No, really. I know there’s nothing worse than shelling out for advertising when the social media ‘revolution’ promises you can do it for free, but the fact is PPC still works, otherwise people wouldn’t do it. I spend about £100 a month on PPC advertising. Since I started my campaign, I’ve doubled the amount of leads I’m getting, found more local business in London and increased my profits. AdWords isn’t a ‘set it up and forget’ option. To get it right requires constant maintenance. I check mine every day.
  • Consider getting someone else to do your marketing for you. Lots of people will be on an agency’s books in addition to touting for work themselves. Make sure your agency is reputable and meet them in person if possible. Whatever you do, don’t sign up for a copy mill. Pay-per-word doesn’t work — mainly because it’s much simpler to write 1000 words of mediocre copy than write 100 words that really sell. A really good hundred words might be worth £1000 to your client. 1000 words at 6p per word isn’t worth the paper it probably isn’t even printed on.

Any more tips and suggestions? Share them here.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 7th, 2010 at 10:05 am and is filed under Blog, Me and my business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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