Rock Your Marketing (Even if You’re too Busy for Marketing)

Freelance writers are business owners, busy business owners. And many of us lack the time to work on our business because we’re always working in it for our clients. Blogs, social media posts, and marketing in general fall by the wayside in favour of the now money. But what about later? Do you go back to hustling with the gigs dry up? Do you stockpile your rainy day fund in case there’s no work for a while? What if you could rock your marketing while you’re busy so you stop having dry spells? (Spoiler: You can, and I’ll tell you how.)

Rock your marketing

But first a story.

I’m part of a bi-monthly marketing challenge in one of my professional networking groups and the most interesting parts of the challenge is how many people “sit this one out” citing they have a full client load so they don’t need marketing.

What? You’re too busy for marketing!?

This is difficult to hear. Because this tells me you’re not thinking about the long game, you’re focusing on the here and now. And you should, don’t get me wrong, but it can’t be all you focus on.

Here’s what no marketing plan gets you

  • Scattered, inconsistent presentation in front of potential clients
  • Random posts and self-promotions on social media
  • Irregular networking (in person, virtual networking groups, bi-monthly marketing challenges…)
  • Unfamiliarity with competitors’ strategies

Oh, and no new clients. Unless you’re so busy month after month that you’re turning away new clients, you need marketing. Even when you’re too busy for marketing.

So, how do I rock my marketing even if I’m too busy for marketing?

I’m glad you asked. Since we’re at the beginning stages of this conversation I’m not going to ask you to do new things…yet. Right now let’s focus on what you’re already doing and sprinkle in some focused marketing. Getting it going is the first step.

Rock your marketing with these three tips

First, think about the content you put out on social media right now

Be honest. When you post something on social media, what is it about? Personal? Photos of your weekend? Political memes? Food? Is anything you post related to your business or how you serve your clients?

If you’re going to rock your marketing, I challenge you to consider your social media platforms places where you can attract new clients and brand yourself rather than something separate. Who is your ideal client? How can you help him/her today? How can what you post be useful in moving him/her ahead? How can you inspire someone? (Need help? Here’s your five-step social media strategy for freelance writers.)

Second, carve out time to connect with your ideal clients or colleagues

And no, this does not mean sending out cold pitches by email. CONNECT!

Remember, I’m not asking you to do anything new…yet. So who are the people you speak to every day? Do you pass them on the street? In a store? In a restaurant? Look them in the eye and make a connection. Start with hi, hello, how are you. One or all of those will do. Next? Have a conversation. It doesn’t need to be deep or time-consuming, but make sure you mention something about how what you’re working on lights you up and you love your job. Make a connection, then continue on with what you were doing.

But what if you don’t go out because you’re chained to your computer desk all day? How about a nice email to a contact? A check in, a hey how’s your business going? Is there anything I can help you with today? Or how about an old client, why not send a nice note and see if there’s a project you can help out with. If not, no biggie. But you tried. You reached out. You connected.

Third, you don’t need to post new content every day

Hear me: you need to post content, but it doesn’t have to be new. Whoa.

This was a huge mental shift for me. When I let go of the idea that every blog post was a slam dunk and lived on in my readers’ minds I was free to re-use them as appropriate. (By the way, I wrote about my favourite tools to re-share content here.) I combed through my archives and pulled the articles I thought my idea clients would enjoy. Then I plugged them into a content library, created a schedule, and let them go. I’m still amazed at the freedom I feel setting up this small automation. Because I can accept that not everyone will see my LIFE-CHANGING articles and freelance writing tips the moment I write them I’m free to keep sharing them on various platforms. All it takes is this careful balance of humility and pride.


See? That wasn’t so bad. Don’t you feel ready to rock your marketing? These three itty bitty marketing tweaks can help you ROCK your marketing! Visualize how stress-free your freelance marketing game could be. Dream big, my friend.

Now, a word of caution. You can go down the marketing rabbit trail and end up overwhelmed and not sure which shiny object to focus on. Because there is always more you can do. All we’re talking about today is not doing nothing. Don’t do nothing. Keep putting yourself out there, even if you’re busy and have a full client roster. Keep networking, keep posting relevant, helpful content on social media, and keep putting your work out there even if you haven’t created anything new in a while. Keep going!

Freelance writers are business owners, busy business owners. And many of us lack the time to work on our business because we're always working in it for our clients. Blogs, social media posts, and marketing in general fall by the wayside in favour of the now money. But what about later? Do you go back to hustling with the gigs dry up? Do you stockpile your rainy day fund in case there's no work for a while? What if you could rock your marketing while you're busy so you stop having dry spells? (Spoiler: You can, and I'll tell you how.)

One more thing. If you’ve got these three daily tasks down you may be interested in my free five-day marketing challenge for freelance writers. It walks you through putting a few simple systems in place to help you with goal setting, reaching out, keeping in touch, and even a bit of branding. Why not check it out? I made it for you!

Essential Freelance Writer Website Elements

If you’re a freelance writer, do you even need a website? What are the essential freelance writer website elements anyway?

Seven essential freelance writer website elements

Around the Internet I see a lot of advice and tips for author websites but I don’t see much out there to help freelance writers. Why oh why are we left out? Don’t worry. I’m here to help. Here are seven essential freelance writer website elements. Oh, and three things.

First things first, you need it. Every freelance writer needs a website. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. A website is the most critical tool in your freelance writing marketing arsenal. It’s available on-demand, year-round and is the one place you have complete control over what the message is. You want and need a website. (Which is why we’re going after the freelance writer website elements today.)

Next. There’s a common idea that social networks can replace a website—that’s where your readers and clients are anyway. But here’s the thing. You don’t own the platform and you can’t control the message. You can add to the conversation, yes. And I think you should be social networking. However, you don’t want all your eggs in the social media basket. It could go away at any time, and then what?

One more thing

Set goals for your website. Yes, I’m talking about S.M.A.R.T. Goals and yes, you need to set some. What’s the primary goal of your website? What do you want people to do when they land on your site? Who do you want to see your writing website? When you know what your goal is, you will know how to build it to help you achieve your freelance-writing goals.

Let’s get into it. What are the essential freelance writer website elements?

Less is more here

  1. Clear name. Look at your website. Is your name visible? Anywhere? Make it visible. If you write under a business name you can use that one, but make sure it’s easy to spot and read
  2. About page. This could be called something similar (bio, the company, meet your expert, experience, who I am, my story, profile, ETC.) and it should be on its own web page on your site
  3. Information about your products, services, or portfolio. Or all three. I have lots to say about portfolios (they drive me crazy…they’re out of date so fast in the freelance fast lane!) but I’ll refrain till further notice. Include as many links as you can to recent work and/or merchandise
  4. Social media icons. Do you have a few favourites? (I know I do.) Link to them and give your avid fans a chance to connect with you
  5. Contact page. Yup. You need to let people know how to get in touch with you. How do you want them to contact you? List that information in a clear and visible manner
  6. Email newsletter signup. Even if you don’t have anything to send, start an email list. Do it. You want to keep in touch with people who want to stay in touch with you
  7. Blog. I mean, I think you should have a blog. But I’ll leave it at the bottom so you know it’s not the first thing you do. Nothing allows your sparkling personality to come through like a blog. I don’t know what it is about the medium, but it WORKS! It serves as your pre-portfolio and helps you improve your writing. Oh, but you do need to keep it updated
  8. Around the Internet I see a lot of advice and tips for author websites but I don't see much out there to help freelance writers. Why oh why are we left out? Don't worry. I'm here to help. Here are seven essential freelance writer website elements. Oh, and three things

    Do you have freelance writer website elements to add? I’d love to hear about them!

What’s a Social Media Manager and Why Should I Care?

But I’m a writer! Who cares about what a social media manager is!

What's a Social Media Manager?

I heard of the social media manager title years ago, but never considered I would or could be one. I figured it was for someone else, someone who went to school for new media or social media management (things that didn’t exist when I did my bachelor of journalism). But then my LinkedIn job suggestions started getting…obvious. Here’s a splash of what I see whenever I check in to see what’s new and who’s hiring.

  • Social Media Coordinator
  • Copywriter
  • Office Administrator
  • An Open Letter to _______’s Future Marketer
  • Client Success Coach
  • Marketing Specialist
  • Social Media Manager
  • PR Consultant
  • Marketing and Events Coordinator
  • Brand Publishing Specialist

Keep in mind these are the jobs posted in the past seven days in my area, which LinkedIn thought I’d be a good match for. If you’re a writer but have collected different skills, experience, connections, etc. you may have a different snapshot. But do you see what I’m talking about?

Two reactions come to mind I must choose between.

  1. Wow, this social network doesn’t know me at all
  2. When did I become a social media manager?

So I begin wondering, what’s a social media manager and is it different from what I’m doing now?

Well I’ll cut to the chase, all 10 of these postings are about the same. The type of work, the skills involved, the experience required, everything. No matter if it’s administrator level, coordinator level, or management level. Now that’s confusing!

This tells me a few things. First, I need to understand all the ways people think of the skills I have—calling myself a writer without attaching any of the other keywords strips out nine of these jobs. Wow. Yet all require the exact same skills. OK…

What now?


Wondering what a social media manager is? Want to be one? Here’s what’s in the social media manager’s toolkit.

  • Fluent in social—all social (paying attention to social trends, dos and don’ts, what’s hot and what’s not)
  • Strong writing skills (with a specialization in content marketing/copy writing)
  • A people-first approach to everything (a service mindset, which not only has you listening to your customers and industry chatter but being engaged in your community)
  • Graphically inclined (not a pro, but you need the basics of design and video production)
  • Comfortable with social selling (and understanding how this is done)
  • Competent at SEO and analytics (yes you will have to run campaigns and reports)
  • Confident public speaker (yes you will have to use Instastories and Facebook Live—you may even have to speak on a panelin person)
  • An understanding of human behaviour (you don’t have to have a psych degree but you do need to understand what works and what doesn’t, what people want and what they don’t)
  • Reasonable budgeting skills (show me the money! Er…show your clients how you’re spending their money!)
  • Adaptable (this industry is like a river—moving fast and constant, you have to keep up with the changes and adapt as necessary)
  • Curious and savvy (in order to succeed as a social media manager, you need to know what works—but if you’re ahead of the curve you’ll be able to move your clients’ business strategies forward faster and won’t be distracted by fleeting trends or vanity metrics)
  • Strong grasp of marketing (specifically strategy and digital, email, and funnel marketing)

If this seems like three jobs in one, you’re right. And if it seems like a lot of different skill sets wrapped up into one, you’re right again. But this seems to be where the industry is at these days and if you want to compete, you need at least a cursory knowledge of these tools.

Keep in mind the typical day-to-day tasks a social media manager executes each day are a little less overwhelming: writing and scheduling posts, running ads, replying to fans, and creating graphics.

See? Not so bad. However, the only way this works is with a strong foundation—a strong social marketing strategy. This is where the real value of a social media manager comes in. If you have good instincts and can build a great strategy for your client, you are going to see great results. So stay at it and invest in yourself!

Wondering what skills you need to be a social media manager? Anyone can schedule social posts and respond to fans. The real value of a social media manager comes in if you have good instincts and can build a great strategy for your client.

Are you looking to level-up your business on social? Need a social media manager? Let’s chat! Respond in the form below or message me on social. Let me know what problems you’re looking to solve and I’ll be happy to send you a quote.

Are you like me? Just discovering you’re really a social media manager (and that’s why you’re so tired)? I’d love to commiserate with you!

Freelance Writing Update: June 2017

Freelance writing update: June 2017

Freelance Update June 2017

I thought I’d share a few things I’m working on unrelated to this site or my social feeds. Sometimes I share links but I don’t speak much about the details of freelance life. This is in part because all the details happen before the post goes live and by the time I share it I’ve moved on to new projects. So here’s my freelance writing update.

However. At a recent event, I was reminded about how mysterious freelance writing is when you’re just getting started. So mysterious! Like, how does this writing-for-money-thing even happen?

While I can’t unlock all the secrets today, I will let you know a few things I’m doing and connect how I think they’re helping me move the bar along.

Social Media Panel: Golden Ears Writers

GEW-lobby-night

In May I had an amazing opportunity to speak at a writer’s group on a panel with fellow Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) members about social media marketing. This is my ideal topic, in front of my ideal people, in my ideal situation. I was thrilled to participate. I’ve spoken about blogging and social media before, but never about marketing. One of my goals for this year was to do more speaking so I’m happy this happened.

Yeah but, how did this happen?

Yes! Let’s talk about it! This happened because of pre-existing relationships. Like I mentioned before, this panel comprised fellow PWAC members. I’m a professional-level member of this organization and am active in our local chapter (alright, alright, I’m the current president too). What does this mean?

  • I network with professional writers in my area in person
  • I follow my colleagues on social media and support them with comments, likes, and reposts
  • I communicate with these colleagues by email, phone calls, texts, etc. to offer encouragement, ask advice, and connect
  • I help create opportunities for gaining experience, finding leads, and passing along opportunities

Yeah, but how did this happen?

Right. Well, one of my colleagues helps run Golden Ears Writers, an informal Maple Ridge BC-based writers group. I follow them on Facebook and I’ve attended gatherings in the past. I noticed the topics they cover and when an opportunity to collaborate arose (note: a gap in the schedule) I pitched the idea. We were a few months out so had time to gather participants, work out the subject matter, and promote the event. This was an unpaid opportunity, by the way, but we were encouraged to promote our businesses and sell our products at the event.

The evening was well attended and there were loads of on-point questions. It, like I said before, reminded me that freelance writing can seem mysterious and integrating a social media strategy can be plain overwhelming. I had a lot of takeaways from this experience and am looking forward to more speaking opportunities like this.

Blog Post: Tourism Abbotsford

Hikes-Walks-Screenshot

Here’s a blog post I wrote for Tourism Abbotsford about different hikes and walks you can do in Abbotsford. This type of article is called a roundup because it takes a bunch of different things and presents them together. A roundup of local hikes and walks is a great post for this site because someone looking for a hike or walk is probably Googling “best hikes in Abbotsford” or “Abbotsford walks” or “things to do in Abbotsford when it’s sunny.” If this post comes up then it not only summarizes a few great ideas, but gives the gist of what to expect so they can either do more research or cross things off the list.

A roundup post seems simple but usually is a lot of work to put together because you have a lot more options than goes into the post and you have to decide which ones make the cut. Also, you have to give each option an equal shake and highlight the same type of information in each point. Roundups are great for learning how to write tight (aka get rid of all the extra words; aka get to the point) and prioritizing information.

Yeah, but how did this happen?

Yes! This happened because I have pre-existing relationship with Tourism Abbotsford. I’ve written for them for a few years and so all this took was an assignment email and a deadline. Once relationships are rolling getting work is quite simple.

One further thought. This post performed well on social media and while I don’t know if there’s any correlation to me getting more paid work I don’t think it hurts. If nothing else it gets my name out there. Whenever I publish something I try and promote it on my channels and help it along.

Blog Post: Faith Strong Today

Passion-Happiness-Screenshot

This post was written a couple months ago and I wasn’t sure when it would be published. When it went live Faith Strong Today tagged me on Twitter, which is how I knew it happened. I have a casual relationship with this website and I can send them articles at my own pace (although I think they’d like monthly). It’s primarily a podcast network so although my articles help round out the site and strengthen their SEO, they’re not a priority.

OK, nice, but how did this happen?

You’re not going to believe it, but it was a pre-existing relationship.

Ugh! Again!?

I know, right!?

Before the website launched I was contacted about writing for them. We worked out what I’d write, an initial schedule, and a rate on a per-article basis. I won’t get into rates and contracts today but I will mention since we worked out a yearlong plan, I was happy to work on a per-article basis. I know some freelance writer’s wouldn’t work this way but in this instance, I was good with it.

This media company is based in Toronto (aka far away from me) but I’ve worked in a professional capacity (not freelance) with the company for years. I didn’t see this opportunity coming but if I did I would’ve pursued it as what they’re doing is up my alley plus is a neat opportunity to do lifestyle writing with a Christian worldview.

Magazine Article: Insight for Living Canada

Wisdom-Speak-Up-Screenshot

This isn’t a freelance article but I wanted to include it to add context. Because this magazine is related to my day job but it gets me freelance work.

Working on this magazine is something I’ve done for a few years and often I’ll publish an article in it. For the last year I’ve published one each month.

Right. So how did this happen?

I started at this organization working on their blog, unrelated to the magazine. Over time I was able to publish the odd article, but I did have to pitch a lot of ideas and even some of my accepted ideas never got published. It’s easy to assume if you work for a media organization they’ll just take all your ideas but that isn’t the case. Sure, you have a seat at the table and you have a better chance of publishing than a freelancer does, but it’s not a given.

In fact, working for the publication is maybe harder than being a freelancer because if the magazine isn’t well received you get all the blame. You get to read all the feedback. You get to respond to all the criticism. As a freelancer, I never know if an article is hated by the readers (unless they tag me on Twitter) and sometimes ignorance is bliss.

That’s nice. So how does writing for this organization lead to freelance work?

I said I write every month right? OK, so every month my name is in print and sent to thousands of people. The same article is also published online and promoted on social media. I don’t know how many eyes are on the page but it adds up.

What does it mean? Well, not a ton at first, but then one day a media company decides to launch a podcast network and they think, “Oh, doesn’t Robyn write? I think the stuff she writes would work on our site, let’s call her.” And another organization decides to publish a book and they say, “This topic Robyn wrote about is one of the chapters we want in our book… let’s see if she’ll help us out.” And then a writer fresh out of school reads my article and thinks, “I’m looking for work like this… I’ll write Robyn and see if I can hire her to help me get started.”

And if I’m smart and looking for opportunities, I’ll say yes.

Hope this freelance writing update, aka a peek behind the curtain, casts some light onto the mysterious world of freelance writing! Now get your name out there!

I thought I'd share a few things I'm working on unrelated to this site or my social feeds. Sometimes I share links but I don't speak much about the details of freelance life. This is in part because all the details happen <em>before</em> the post goes live and by the time I share it I've moved on to new projects. So here's my freelance writing update.

Five Tips for Optimizing your Social Media Profiles

Optimizing your Social Media Profiles

Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles

When you’re a hungry freelance writer or getting started in the industry it’s difficult to know where to look for work. Things like job boards, Craigslist, and cold emailing queries are what people trend towards but these are (in general) low paying, competitive, and an exhausting hustle. Your chances of landing solid clients are low so your pitch rate has to be high.

If you’re wondering how established freelance writers generate leads they’ll tell you most of their work comes through warm leads (existing relationships) and referrals. Even if you’re just starting out these options are available to you too, the trick is letting people know you’re available so they think of you when an opportunity comes up.

The best way to let people know you’re available is by saying you’re available. It’s easy to look at your social media profiles as places where friends and family connect with you, so there’s no reason to talk about your business (don’t they already know what you do?) but what better place to find referrals than your friends and family list?

And don’t assume they’re aware of what you do or even understand it. Do you know the details of your entire network? I don’t. Take assumption out of the picture and optimize your social profiles for your freelance writing business. Lay it out for them so it’s easy for them to think of you when they hear about someone looking for a writer.

Another reason to optimize your social media profiles is because your reach is wide on social. A potential client is more likely to run across you on Twitter or LinkedIn before ever seeing your website. You want to ensure you tell any potential clients who you are, what you do, and why they should hire you.

Five tips for optimizing your social media profiles

  1. Choose a professional/standout profile picture and cover photo
  2. Your profile photo should be high quality, square, reflect your brand, stand out in news feeds, and be a picture of you.

    Your cover photo (on applicable platforms) should be high quality and represent the core values of your brand.

    The more consistent your images are across platforms, the better.

  3. Make it easy for people to know who you are/what you do
  4. If you want to capture leads from your social profiles then use your full name or business name. Nothing cute here. A great social media bio explains who you are and what you do, shares your personality, and targets your niche audience with keywords. Think of it as an amped-up elevator pitch.

  5. Link to your website
  6. Some gurus teach linking to your professional Facebook page and if that’s where you prefer doing business I won’t stop you. But don’t leave the URL section blank. Think about it this way, where do you want your prospective clients to go? Send them there. I want them to go to my website so I can showcase the best of my work on a property I own and control.

  7. Include keywords about your services
  8. If someone is searching on Twitter for someone like you, what will they search for? Make sure those words show up in your profile in a non-spammy way. Avoid buzz words, use terms your ideal client would use, be concise, and mention the benefits of what you do.

  9. Be clear on your location/contact info
  10. If you work from home you may not want your address listed for the world to see, but how about your city or region? Adding your location helps potential clients discover you. And what about your contact details? Make it easy for people to get in touch, but only share what you’re comfortable with. Adding a phone number may be too much, but what about your work email address? If you want people to contact you with work, tell them how to reach you.

Now get out there and be social!

If you’re wondering how established freelance writers generate leads they’ll tell you most of their work comes through warm leads (existing relationships) and referrals. Even if you’re just starting out these options are available to you too, the trick is letting people know you’re available so they think of you when an opportunity comes up.


This post is an excerpt from the five-day marketing challenge. Want to get your marketing efforts organized? Take the challenge!

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