A while back, Ed and I presented an online seminar to freelancers. After the webinar, when the attendees had had a chance to digest the content we presented, we invited them to share with us their plans for building their freelance businesses.
Many of the answers included very general, foggy statements. "I plan on using the techniques learned in the seminar," was a common response.
A few participants, however, outlined very specific plans of action... a series of specific actions such as "I'm sending out direct mail letters to 30 new prospects each week for six consecutive weeks," followed by more specifics plans for following up.
A common question among freelancers is to ask, "What should I be doing to market my business." It's a fair question. And often, it's charged with all kinds of anxiety about getting business.
It's because many freelancers don't have a plan.
As the old adage goes, if you're failing to plan, you're planning to fail. Not only that, you're planning to fail in a way that is stressful, frustrating and no fun.
Freelancers who neglect to create a plan for growing their businesses end up bouncing around from project to project and usually end up taking on work they don't like, or that doesn't pay well.
Freelancers who take the time to create a plan of action for their business are the ones who succeed. One the best examples of this is my colleague here at the Academy, Ed Gandia.
Ed Gandia created his own plan for transitioning to the freelance life while also holding down a demanding corporate job. It was a transition period that spanned 27 months!
And at the end of that 27-month period of part-time freelancing, Ed made the leap and became a full-time freelancer.
He even once wrote an ebook about that plan... and it's more than 150 pages long! Now that's a detailed plan!
However, not all your plans have to be as detailed and meticulous as Ed's.
I often map out my marketing efforts visually on a few sheet of paper or a white board. A complete plan, with boxes and arrows, clearly mapped out for me to see.
(One visual planning technique I recommend is called a mind mapping which is basically a free-form technique where you jot down ideas and concepts anywhere on a page, and then draw lines between ideas that go together.)
Where's your plan? Can you point to it? What does it look like? How detailed is it? Do you know, for example, what your marketing efforts are going to look like 3 weeks from now? How about 3 months from now?
My opinion is that the level of anxiety you experience as a freelancer rises "“ sharply "“ when you're just winging it, with no plan in place to follow for growing your business.
If you don't have a plan in place... here's an assignment that will help.
Assignment: Create a quick 5-step marketing plan.
1. On a sheet of paper, draw a row of five boxes.
2. Each box represents a "contact point" between you and your potential client.
3. Fill in the boxes with different ways you can reach out and touch prospects. Over the weeks and months at the Academy, you've seen lots of ideas. There are also lots of ideas in our book, The Wealthy Freelancer and you've probably seen many other ideas in the blogs and newsletters you enjoy. Pick just five methods for contacting clients, and fill in the five boxes on your page.
4. Assign a date to the first box on your page. This is the official launch date of your next marketing campaign!
5. Write in dates for each of the other four boxes. If you want a guideline, allow a week, or two, between contact.
6. You've just created a mini-marketing campaign. It's not a full-blown marketing plan for the year, but at least it's something to start with. Get going!