When you first started your business, you were probably excited about the prospect of doing something you love every day, right? I know I was. In my dreams, I saw myself designing all day, every day. I saw myself working on pretty colour palettes and beautiful logos for hours at a time, totally lost in my creative work.
In reality, I quickly realized that I'd only be designing 30% of the time. The other 70% of my time had to go on marketing and admin.
But here's the thing: I didn't like marketing very much.
When I heard the word 'marketing', I thought of sleazy salesmen. I thought I'd have to brag about my work and badger people to hire me.
It just didn't feel right to me.
I avoided 'marketing' as much as possible. Instead of going out into the online world and actively looking for clients, I relied on clients to find me through referrals. I didn't make any kind of marketing plan. I felt that a marketing plan would stifle my creativity. I was awful at following long, boring plans anyway so I didn't bother with it.
Because I didn't think I needed a marketing plan, my first year of business was slow and agonizing.
I made £35 profit in my first year as a freelance designer. It was primarily because I'd tanked the income I'd earned on expenses, but if I'd had a marketing plan in place, I would have been able to take on more clients, and my profits still would have been healthy even with the huge expenses I'd taken on.
In hindsight, I wish I'd created a marketing plan sooner for my freelance business.
Marketing plans don't have to be boring.
Marketing plans don't have to be long and boring. You don't have to fill your plan with lots of formal sentences and big words.
Your plan can be a one-page Word document.
It can be a spreadsheet.
It can be a simple diagram.
It can be a board of post-its.
Your marketing plan can be in whatever form you find easiest to follow, but we're going to talk more about that in another blog post.
For now, I want you to forget every myth you've ever thought about marketing plans. Instead of firmly going against the idea of creating a marketing plan, here are three reasons why you SHOULD create one.
3 Reasons Why Freelancers Need A Marketing Plan
01. Without a plan, you'll forget to promote your services.
Without a marketing plan, you won't have any strategies to carry out each day and week. Sure, you probably have a few marketing ideas in your mind. But because you haven't written them down and built a plan from those ideas, you probably won't ever act on them.
02. A marketing plan will push you to diversify your marketing.
At the moment, I'm guessing you have no marketing plan and you rely on clients finding you through referrals. Am I right?
I used to be the same, until I found myself contemplating getting a day job because I had no clients.
Relying on referrals alone isn't a smart or reliable marketing strategy. When you do that, you're relying on other people to market your business for you.
When you sit down and actually create a marketing plan, you're forced to be imaginative and think of lots of ways to market your services. You'll surprise yourself with the strategies you think of!
03. A marketing plan lessens the risk of your business failing
Even if you only spend fifteen minutes on a different marketing strategy each day, you'll see a difference in your business. Your website traffic will start to increase, and so will the amount of inquiries you receive each week.
When you rely on only one marketing strategy (like referrals), your business is doomed if that strategy stops working.
But if you implement five strategies and one stops working, it's OK because you can still rely on the other four to make sure you have a steady stream of inquiries and clients coming in!
Creating a marketing plan takes one day. After that, it's up to you to make sure you follow through on your plan every day.
Creating and following a marketing plan seems harder than it actually is. To help you out, you can download the first chapter of my ebook, The Freelance Marketing Plan, for free! It's officially launching later this month but you can download the first chapter instantly by entering your details below.
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