Seven essential success strategies for ethical freelance creatives. Women writers, feminist marketers, and permaculture entrepreneurs:
you need to know this stuff.
Tips for success and a free downloadable checklist for how to build your own freelance marketing funnel.
by Heather Jo Flores
Guess what? Your marketing strategy is a whole system design. As a long time permaculture designer, I should have known it would be!
What follows is a “stuff I seriously wish I would have known when I started” list of essential tips for online entrepreneurs, especially if you’re relatively new at this and have spent any time at all resisting learning about “marketing” because it’s yucky.
Let’s jump right in!
1. Lift other people up, especially people who seem like your closest competitors.
Your work is different than theirs, or at least it should be. And they are probably awesome people, right? I mean, if they’re doing work that intersects with your own passion, calling, and creative expression, then chances are you have a lot in common and could probably even be friends. If you openly and sincerely promote the work of people you admire, the light will shine back on you a thousandfold. This is basic abundance theory, and it works.
2. Find your niche.
If you don’t know your market, if you don’t know who your audience is, then how do you know what to offer?
Take the time to figure out exactly who you want to serve and how. Start with asking yourself who you want to have in your life who you want to interact with, on the daily.
- What questions do they ask?
- Who asks the questions that interest you the most?
- What are the problems they complain about?
- Can you solve any of them?
Finding your niche is the second most important part of being a successful freelancer. (The first most important is daily practice, and lucky for you I offer awesome online courses on BOTH topics!)
3. Give, give, give.
Give ridiculously valuable content away for free, like this game-changing freelance marketing guideI just made for you.
Even if you’re thinking, wow this is great writing! I could sell this to a magazine! Yeah, totally, of course! Do that. Send out a query, and if you get the gig, awesome. But if you don’t, or if you just can’t be arsed to hunt around for a publisher right now but you’ve just written something really brilliant, just send it out to everyone!
You can write something else that’s even more brilliant tomorrow. Don’t be miserly with your creativity. It doesn’t run out…unless you hoard it. Then, it withers.
Yep, more abundance theory. And y’all KNOW I am not into the woo-woo stuff! But the fact remains: the more you give, the more you get, and when people can see that you truly love being a part of the abundance cycle, they will get on board. I promise.
4. Content, content, content.
Content is queen.
If your voice, your niche, and your offers are unique, original, and authentic, you will succeed. But you have to keep it flowing. No matter what happens with your life, your business, your family, try to make time every day for research and/or writing so that your blog always has fresh, original content.
Sure, you can schedule blog posts months in advance, and indeed you should. But don’t let that make you lazy, because you know as well as I do that the creativity can stagnate.
Take it seriously. This is a job, after all. Generate new creative work as often as possible, even if it seems scattered at first. Even if you feel like a complete imposter! Don’t even worry about it. Just. Keep. Writing. You’ll hit the sweet spot eventually. You’ll find your niche. Unless you give up. Then, you won’t.
5. Speak their language.
Speaking of content, what language are speaking? What lexicon are you using? It matters.
Are you writing in the tongue of your chosen brand archetype?
Are you speaking the language of your target market?
Learn the words that your ideal audience wants to hear, and use them. Keywords, hashtags, prose, sales copy, social media blurbs — it all needs to be within a lexicon you have intentionally chosen. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Common language leads to trust.
You aren’t tricking them by doing this! You are accommodating them, meeting them where they are at, and honing your own message and identity as a creative and unique individual in the world.
6. Shed the shame.
De-stigmatize self-promotion! You are not an imposter. Show off your feathers and, if it helps, think of it as “communicating” instead of “marketing.” This is your art! You’re allowed to share it and to make money on it too.
Personally, I think the bias against “self-promo,” which is especially prevalent in women’s communities, is rooted in patriarchy, and in the age-old traditions of telling women to STFU about their ideas.
When I say self-promotion, I’m not talking about smarmy MLM’s or whatever, (though even they can have value sometimes too). I’m talking about women being afraid to promote their own creative work because they think it will turn people off.
And to augment the problem, there are a ton of focus groups on Facebook, for women writers and a zillion other types, that strictly prohibit the posting of anything you wrote, made, or thought of yourself, and I find this just absurd.
What the heck is the point of spending a bunch of time yammering on in some facebook group about everything BUT the work of the women in that group? It makes no sense!
I moderate several large groups on Facebook that actively encourage self-promo in all of my groups. And guess what? It’s never a problem. Nobody is ever spamming or trying to sell Ray-bans! They are networking, actually, and bringing real change to each other’s lives.
if you’re a creative freelancer, people need to know about your work. Or you’re never going to get paid. And you need paid, right? At least once in a while, yes you do.
And if you resist learning the small but specific set of skills you need to succeed as a freelancer, just because those skills are labeled as “marketing,” then you are doing yourself and your potential readers/clients/friends a great disservice.
Because here’s the thing:
People don’t know. Your friends, colleagues, and social media buddies don’t know how brilliant you are. Maybe some of them do, sure. But most of them — the vast majority of them — do not know who you are, what you create, and what you can do for them as a client. And they want to know. They spend money on services like yours, and they want to know about their options.
I can’t count how many times I’ve had somebody I correspond with regularly say, months after I felt like I was over-promoting some course, say to me “OMG you’re offering THAT?!? I had no idea! I want it!!” So, do not underestimate the power of what I like to call “friendship marketing.”
But ethical, friendship-based marketing goes far beyond just talking about yourself on social media.
Which brings us to our final item:
7. Build a freelance funnel.
Every freelancer needs a fully-automated freelance marketing funnel, so they can give spend more time writing and being creative, and (almost) no time re-posting, re-blogging, cutting-and-pasting, and all that other tedious stuff it takes to get paid.
If you’re a permaculture person, you can relate the design of your funnel to how you might design your garden: so that most of the elements are automated, self-perpetuating perennials that need very little maintenance, while you focus your energy on whatever new things you want to grow/write/create!
You might already know about funnels, or at least you’ve heard of this mysterious “marketing funnel” thing-y. You might even have one already built, and if it’s working perfectly and not taking up too much of your time, then you know I am absolutely right about this.
But without the right information, building your funnel is easier said than done.
And if you’re anything like me, you searched high and low for a step-by-step guide to building a simple and functional funnel, but ended up having to just teach yourself the process because the short version of this information is actually really hard to find.
I found a lot of links that, on the surface, promised to teach me “the anatomy of a sales funnel,” and “how to make money as a freelancer,” but none of them really explained it. They were all just lead magnets for cheesy marketing and consulting services and training programs that cost more than I made my whole first year as a full-time freelancer.
You do NOT need to pay somebody $2500 to teach you how to build your funnel!
You don’t even need to pay them at all, because I’m giving you everything you need to build a gorgeous, multifunctional funnel, without spending any money.
If you’re confused, overwhelmed, and not even sure what in the heck a funnel is and does, and ESPECIALLY if you haven’t yet realised that your funnel is your new best friend and can make it possible for you to spend most of your time gardening and being creative then this guide is exactly what you need.
Like most acquired skills, building a marketing funnel is super easy to do, with some clear instructions. But it’s damn hard to figure out by yourself!
So, to keep you from making all the mistakes I made, and because I think that every woman writer and permababe-preneur (I just made that up!) needs free access to a clear and actionable formulafor setting up a sales funnel that will quickly and painlessly connect you to your ideal clients/friends/community, I made you this:
The guide is a downloadable PDF, written entirely by me: just 3700 words of clear, actionable instructions in the form of a step-by-step checklist, with links to all the tools and resources, in case you get stuck.
P.S. By inviting you to download this guide, I am inviting you into my very own funnel, where I share my own writing, ideas, and offers for women writers and permaculture women. And I promise you: it isn’t yucky at all. It’s awesome.
So, since the medium is the message, you will not only get the guide itself, but you will get to see and participate in a working example of exactly the type of system I am teaching you.
It’s all totally free. I’m not trying to hustle you and I have no products related to marketing nor am I hustling up work building sales funnels for other people.
I’m just really excited to have finally learned this system and I want you to have access to this information so you can get your creative work out to people who will pay for it, and spend more time doing what you love!
See you real soon
— Heather Jo
You own exactly one thing: your story.
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