The short answer to this question is “Yes.” Marketing your writing business should be an ongoing activity. Many freelancers have peaks and valleys in their work load. It goes with the territory.
If you want to keep the work coming in, you should be constantly doing activities that will grow your business. Even if you are at the point where your time is completely booked and you couldn’t possibly squeeze one more thing in, do it anyway. Find a few minutes to check out job boards, the job leads we post here at FWJ, to make a couple of cold calls, or approach a potential client by e-mail.
Don’t worry about how you are going to fit the next gig into your schedule. You haven’t got it yet. It may take time to hear back from your job searching efforts, and chances are that you will apply for many more gigs than you actually get. You can always discuss deadlines when you are negotiating fees with the client.
Part of being a freelancer is juggling the work we have in front of us with being on the lookout for our next project. Do you look for work constantly, or do you back off from these activities when you have a lot of work do do?
This is one thing I struggle with a lot. When I have a lot of work I don’t want to stop and look for more. But then when things slow down I look around and think crap, I should have been applying for jobs all along. Thanks for the reminder!
It does seem counter-intuitive to actively market yourself when you have a full plate of jobs already. But what happens when you get to the end of said jobs and suddenly there are no more on the horizon? As a free-lancer, marketing and scheduling to keep a steady flow of jobs is one of the most difficult skills. I’ve had good luck with simply telling people, “I’m busy with current projects until the end of September,” or whenever the case may be. I’ve actually gotten jobs this way–the old idea of creating a mystique, the feeling being if I’m that busy, I must be really good. Best not to manipulate this for the sake of appearing busy and desirable, though. Tell the truth.
Thursday Bram says
I find that looking for work while I’ve already got a full schedule gives me a good excuse to raise the rates I’m willing to work for: it makes me more comfortable to take on a new project that might make things a little harder to work with my older (and lower-paying) clients if the money is better.
Jennifer L says
Thanks for the reality check!
I know that it’s important to continue looking for work and marketing myself when I’m busy because you just never know when the work will dry up…particularly with the economy in the state that it is now! But man, sometimes when I’ve got a battery of deadlines staring me in the face, it’s hard to remember. Maybe I’ll try to carve out a set time each week to work on this goal.
Jeanne Grunert says
If you do not market yourself every day, you’ll end up with “feast or famine” syndrome – times when you have so much work you don’t know what to do, and times when you wonder when the next job will come in. Setting aside 1 hour a day, every day, no matter what to look through job posts and promote your writing is essential.
I think this is an ongoing struggle. I have “permanent” gigs…it amounts to about 120 articles/posts a month plus about 20+ edits on other writers work. It can be overwhelming…But it is also important to keep in mind that the “permanent” gigs can become “where I used to work” really fast- like overnight. So I do try to keep current on what is going on and open to trading in a lower paying job for a higher paying one.