About Robyn Roste

My name is Robyn Roste and I'm a freelance writer in Abbotsford, BC. I help purpose-driven businesses translate their heart message into words so they can create meaningful connections with their customers.

Building Relationships is Marketing

One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned is building relationships is marketing.

And in my opinion, relationship building is the most important marketing task in growing a successful freelance business.

Building Relationships is Marketing | Tips for Freelancers

Building relationships is marketing

When I look at my freelance writing business trajectory, there’s a clear connection between my steps forward and the relationships I’ve formed.

Whether it’s an introduction, a referral, advice, support or instruction, we don’t operate in a vaccum. We relay on others to belay us. They anchor us and help us climb higher.

Without relationships, our progress is much slower.

If you want to build a successful business, you need to focus on building relationships with three key audiences: your customers, influencers and your competitors.

Why Building Relationships Is the Marketing Secret No One’s Talking About

I like how this article breaks the different types of relationships with key audiences into these three categories. Customers, influencers and competitors.

Building Relationships is Marketing

Clients and potential clients

First of all, treat other people like human beings. Don’t look at your clients or prospects with dollar signs in your eyes—look at them as comrades on this life journey.

Try and see below the surface.

  • What are some things they’re struggling with?
  • What are their deepest needs?
  • How can you help them?

When we treat others like a means to an end you may have a successful transaction but it may not lead to more or ongoing work.

Fruitful partnerships come from the foundation of a strong relationship. You don’t need to be best friends, but there should be trust, love and acceptance.

Extra reading: Get Your Freelance Business Noticed

Industry influencers

I listened to a podcast about professional jealousy and it made me think about how easy it is to compare ourselves and our careers to others’.

If we look at the heavyweights in our arenas as superhumans who we’ll never measure up to then we’ll never work up the courage to build relationships with them, let alone dare to get into the ring.

Influencers have power and, well, influence. Imagine if you had mutually-beneficial relationships with these influencers and an opportunity came up.

Like, oh, I don’t know, a potential book deal? A big client pitch? Or an introduction to an editor?

Now imagine how powerful it would be if they put in a good word for you. Or lent their support. Or made the introduction.

Stop thinking small and get in the ring. Build authentic relationships, find ways to be helpful and refuse to be intimidated by those who are further down the path.

Extra reading: Literary Citizenship and Why the Writing Industry Needs It

Competitors and colleagues

No matter the industry, there will always be other businesses offering similar services or products to what you offer. You can choose to view these other business owners as threats or as comrades.

The first approach uses a scarcity mindset, believing there are winners and loseres and business is a fight to win.

The second approach uses an abundance mindset, believing that there is enough work to go around and that each business brings a new unique perspective to the industry.

Extra reading: Network with Freelancers to Grow Your Business

To me, one of the most important marketing tasks I invest in is building relationships. Nothing else in my business moves the need forward like honest and authenic relationships with clients, influencers and colleages.

Sure, it means I have to trust people. And yes it’s possible they won’t have the same approach. But I choose to believe there are more people like me out there than not.

One more thought, by approaching my business in this way I believe I attract likeminded individuals and repel those who aren’t. And I’m good with that.

Pin for later: Building relationships is marketing

One of the most powerful lessons I've learned is building relationships is marketing. And in my opinion, relationship building is the most important marketing task in growing a successful freelance business.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Building a Personal Brand Tips

One of the trickiest parts about establishing yourself and building a personal brand is actually deciding what that brand will look like.

Here are a few tips for navigating the process. It’s not comprehensive but hopefully a starting point to start building your brand.

Building a Personal Brand Tips

What is a personal brand?

Branding is so, like, vague. Can a colour be a brand? Yes. What about a sound? Sure. How about a particular hat, can that be a brand? Why yes, yes it can.

So…anything can be a brand?

Also, how does this relate to building a personal brand?

Think of your personal brand as an extension of your personality

Online, a personal brand is best represented by something simple yet distinct.

Here are a few examples:

  • The topics you talk about (stick to a core few and watch your brand explode)
  • Your hobbies (not all of them, but a few relateable nerdy things)
  • The way you do your hair (unique style maybe? Or a memorable streak?)
  • Strong opinions (yeah, drama works)
  • Interesting jewelry or accessories (bright glasses, apron, bling, etc.)

But maybe more important than the look of your persona is the way you make people feel. How do you want to be thought about? And what adjectives would you like people to describe you like?

For example:

  • Helpful
  • Relatable
  • Funny
  • Polarizing
  • Smart
  • Competent
  • Expert
  • Trustworthy
  • Influencer

When thinking through your personal brand try and stick to your actual personality.

If you’re not good with staying organized then don’t bother trying to brand yourself as an on-top-of-things entrepreneur. You’ll be found out one way or another and it will all have been for nothing.

And if you’re an outspoken extrovert maybe avoid acting like you’re demure. It just won’t ring true.

When thinking through building a personal brand remember to be yourself

It can be tempting to take cues from others who have a strong brand when you’re not sure about yours.

And that can be OK at first.

Just be careful not to copy. Being inspired to try something on (a look, an approach a style, whatever) is one thing, but stealing is another.

Aside from the ethical issues, if you are trying to pass something off as yours that isn’t true to you there will be some problems.

  • It won’t fit
  • It won’t ring true
  • People won’t know why but they will be able to tell something’s off

Extra credit: Building Your Brand as a Freelancer

Working on building a personal brand? Download this free worksheet

Download the worksheet that goes with this training

Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password for my resource library.

Once you’re in the library, navigate to the blogging section and look for the worksheet called “Brand Elements.”

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Building a personal brand

For me, one of the most difficult things about crafting my brand has been trying to figure out which parts of me to highlight and which to leave behind.

Over the years I’ve tried things on, took cues from people I admired, threw spaghetti at the wall and generally struggled to find my laser-focused brand identity.

Part of my problem came from my resistance at narrowing my public persona. What do I cut? What do I keep? And how much do I share? Oh, and how much do I hold back?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to personal branding. If I’ve learned anything in all of my trial and error it’s this.

Building a personal brand is personal and should be carefully thought through

My brand used to be all over the place because I couldn’t decide which parts of me to share with others and which to keep private.

This all changed when I did a little exercise where I listed the things I was comfortable sharing online, in public, and the things I was not comfortable sharing.

Here’s what I came up with the first time I went through the exercise:

Things I’m comfortable sharing online, on social media

  • Things I like
  • Travelling pictures
  • My gardening
  • What I’m writing

Things I’m not comfortable sharing in public or online

  • Anything about my immediate family
  • About friends who are not colleagues or in my industry
  • My personal relationships

Once I listed out my go/no-go list I immediately stopped feeling pressure to share things about my personal life on social media. Up until this point I didn’t even realize how much internal turmoil I was going through.

Because other influencers were saying this is what I needed to do to build a personal brand. I had to be vulnerable. In order to build authentic relationships I had to put my whole self out on display.

But it didn’t sit right with me. I’m not secretive but I am selective. There are very few people in my every day life who know everything about me so the idea of sharing EVERYTHING online made me sick.

It’s not who I am.

Therefore, it didn’t fit.

So, yeah, people who can share their emotional ups and downs for everyone to see do attract a lot of people to them. And that’s great for them. But I am also confident that approach wouldn’t work for me.

My next concern was worrying that I’m not interesting enough to have a personal brand.

I love blending into the background, helping others get attention and observing from a distance.

Wasn’t working to stand out and draw people to me from my irresistable brand kind of the opposite of my favourite things?

Yeah, kind of.

And I’ve had to work through it. Because I want to be known as a trustworthy source of solid, reliable information I have had to learn to put myself out there and ask for attention.

And for a while, it didn’t fit.

But I’m learning, and I’m growing into it.

Case in point: this interview

Transcript: Robyn Roste | How to Become A Freelance Writer

You can read more about my journey in Platform Building: Smart and Strategic Tips for Writers

Free downloadable tips sheet. Elements of a brand | tips for bulding a personal brand

OK, time for a few quick tips. Remember, you can download these tips from my resource library, just subscribe to my email list and I’ll send you the password.

Once you’re in the library, navigate to the blogging section and look for the worksheet called “Brand Elements.”

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Elements of a brand

Branding is an interesting science mixed with art but there are consistent elements. These are all things you’ll need to think about, decide upon, and commit to if you want your branding to be solid.

  • Positioning (what you do and who you serve)
  • Colour palette (in general, like a signature colour)
  • Branded graphics or catchphrase etc.
  • Consistent fonts and image use
  • Voice (like, you need one and it should be distinct)
  • Consistent topics and keywords (whatever you decide you’re comfortable sharing, stick to the list)

Ready to go deeper into branding?

One of the trickiest parts about establishing yourself and building a personal brand is actually deciding what that brand will look like. Here are a few tips for navigating the process. It's not comprehensive but hopefully a starting point to start building your brand.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required

How to Get More Email Subscribers

Once you get over the hump of actually starting a list now it’s time to figure out how to get more email subscribers.

Because what’s the point in doing all the work of running an email list if you aren’t talking to anyone?

How to Get More Email Subscribers | Tips for Freelancers

But let’s back up for a minute. Maybe you’re a freelance writer who doesn’t do much online marketing. You might think a concept like getting more email subscribers, or even having an email list, is a bit overkill. I mean, what’s the point, right?

If I’m describing you then here’s my quick pitch for having an email list:

  • You can nurture relationships with potential clients who aren’t ready to hire you yet
  • It helps people who are on the fence about hiring you get to know you better
  • Want to stay in touch with previous clients? This is a non-awkward way of doing this!
  • It helps you build authority in your niche (I mean, you’re writing about it literally all the time, this reinforces your expertise!)

Anyway, I could go on about this but it’s not today’s topic so instead I’ll drop a graphic below for you to consider. In today’s freelance environment, platform building both has merit and helps you escape the dreaded feast or famine cycle. (More on THAT later.)

This infographic shows you where I think email marketing comes in to play in the freelancer’s sales funnel.

Just my opinion, but I stand by it.

The new freelance writer's sale funnel by Robyn Roste. First level, discovery. Second level, nurture. Third level, small product sales. Fourth level, high-priced services.

For more about WHY I think you should have an email list check out the article I wrote for Story Board, Why Freelancers in Marketing and Communications Should Have an Email List.

How to get more email subscribers

Tip 1: Ask people to join your list

Yes this is as simple as it sounds. If you want more email subscribers then ask people to join your list.

Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Make sure your social media followers know about your list and have opportunities to join up every now and then
  • Invite people you meet at networking events to join your list (or ask if you can add them—get permission!)
  • Add a link to your sign-up form in your email footer
  • Embed sign-up forms on your blog posts or on your website pages (like your “About” page, for example)

Now, there is a caveat here. You want to invite people to join your list who are a good fit for your business.

This means you have to know what you do, who you serve and why your service matters to them.

Freelancer Positioning Worksheet

By the way, I’ve created a worksheet to help you work through these questions. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password for my free resource library. When you’re there, navigate to the Freelancing category and download the “Freelancer Positioning Worksheet.”

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Want to go deeper here? Check out Want to Work from Home? Consider Freelance Writing!

Tip 2: Offer some sort of incentive for signing up

This makes sense if you think about it.

“Hey join my email list” is one thing.

But isn’t “Sign up for my list and you’ll get this extra special thing that you can’t get anywhere else” better?

  • What can you offer people that makes giving you their email address worth it?
  • What will make it a fair trade?
  • How can you surprise and delight your subscribers?

Think about incentives as two pieces.

First, you want to give people a compelling reason to join your list. Perhaps this is a free download or template or something they’ll find helpful.

Second, you want to send relevant, interesting information in your actual emails.

While getting people on your list is important, giving them a reason to stay is next level.

Get more email subscribers

Tip 3: Encourage your email subscribers to forward your newsletter

Because you’re sending interesting and exclusive stuff to ideal readers (right!? Go back to Tips 1 and 2 if this is new information) it should resonate with them.

And people love sharing information that strikes a chord.

So encourage your email subscribers to share your newsletters with others. This serves as a win-win. They share something helpful with their audience and you’re gaining visibility.

This simple request can have big rewards. Don’t underestimate the power of a referral!


List Love Ebook

If you want to go deeper into list building Jennifer Maker has written a fabulous ebook on the subject. She grew her email list to 20,000 subscribers in less than a year so she knows her stuff. It’s an excellent, quick read and I know you’ll take something away you can implement today.

You can grab this FREE ebook from my affiliate link → LIST LOVE Introduction to List Building

Like I said, this is a free book. But by using my link, if this if you purchase anything from Jennifer Maker later (she has tons of valuable books and courses) then I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

You may also like

It's time to get more email subscribers. Because what's the point in doing all the work of setting up a list if you aren't talking to anyone?

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required

How to Create a Writing Schedule | 3 Steps

When you’re ready to write a book and you know the genre and how many words it will be, your next step is to create a writing schedule.

Create a Writing Schedule

Want these tips as a PDF download? Grab them from my resource library. Put your email in the form below and I’ll send you the password!

Once you’re in the library navigate to the Writing section and look for “Create a Writing Schedule Worksheet.”

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A lot of people skip this step and launch into writing their book.

And I get it, you’re enthusiastic. You want to dive right in. Whee!

But if you are serious about finishing your book (not just starting) then take a minute to create a writing schedule. You won’t regret it.

I’m skipping past a couple important pieces of the book writing process, researching and outlining. Make sure you also build in time for this but know it’s not part of the book writing part—it’s extra.

How to create a writing schedule

When you create a writing schedule you’re building a strategy to ensure writing becomes integrated into your lifestyle so you reach your larger goals.

This strategy prepares you for days you don’t feel like writing or for illness or for whatever else life throws at you.

Three simple steps

Step one: decide when you want to complete your first draft. Your first draft won’t be your final product, but getting this first draft done is one of the biggest steps in the book-writing process.

Pick a specific date and write it down.

Step two: Figure out how many words per day you can write. You’ll hear about people who can write thousands of words per day and expect you can do the same. Don’t assume.

The average amount of words you can write per day or in one sitting is different for everyone so learn what works best for you and build your schedule around it.

Once you know this number, write it down.

Step three: Build a realistic writing schedule. To write a book you need blocks of focused time. How much do you have available? What do you need to put in place to protect it?

When you make time to write in your day-to-day schedule there’s a much better chance of it happening. So make time. Block it out in your calendar. Put it in your schedule. Say you’re unavailable during writing time.

And make sure it’s sustainable so you stick with it.


Create a Writing Schedule Worksheet

Want these tips as a PDF download? Grab them from my resource library. Put your email in the form below and I’ll send you the password!

Once you’re in the library navigate to the Writing section and look for “Create a Writing Schedule Worksheet.”

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Once you have your end date, your average daily word count and your writing schedule decided it’s time to work backwards.

Start with the end in mind and break up your book into monthly, then weekly, then daily goals. Build in time for the unexpected—remember, we’re working with reality here and life happens even when we’re writing a book.

By taking time to create a writing schedule you change your internal dialogue from “Someday I’ll write a book,” to “By THIS DATE I’ll write a book.” That’s a huge difference.

And by breaking down this massive project into small, daily steps, it won’t be so overwhelming. Each day you’ll sit at your writing station with purpose and you’ll write. And by your deadline, if you’ve planned it well, you’ll finish your book.

Create strategies so you stick to your schedule. There will be days you don’t feel like writing. Find ways to write anyway.

This training was presented at Write Canada 2019 (June 13-15, 2019). Learn more about this training and other workshops I present on my speaking page.

Pin for Later

When you're ready to write a book and you know the genre and how many words it will be, your next step is to create a writing schedule.

When you create a writing schedule you're building a strategy to ensure writing becomes integrated into your lifestyle so you reach your larger goals. 

This strategy prepares you for days you don't feel like writing or for illness or for whatever else life throws at you.
By taking time to create a writing schedule you change your internal dialogue from "Someday I'll write a book," to "By THIS DATE I'll write a book."

This training is available in my resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
By taking time to create a writing schedule you change your internal dialogue from "Someday I'll write a book," to "By THIS DATE I'll write a book." That's a huge difference.

How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing

Before I got into the habit of writing and publishing on a schedule I couldn’t figure out how to brainstorm ideas. It was pretty hard in fact, to the point where I felt regular terror when I sat down to write.

Brainstorm ideas

The blank page would stare at me, judging. Sometimes there would be so much pressure I would crumple under it, give up and watch television instead.

And after enough time of that happening I would skip the pretending to write part altogether and go straight to television.

But this didn’t make me feel good about myself so after allowing the self-pity to continue for an awkward amount of time I pulled up my socks and learned how to brainstorm ideas for writing. And I’m pleased to say it’s something you can do too.

How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing

This is a little exercise I picked up over the years and since making it work for me I have never sat down wondering what to write.

Writing is no longer a terrifying experience but something I look forward to and find pleasure in. I hope my brainstorm ideas and/or method helps you.

First, you need to know who your ideal reader is. This may seem like a strange step for brainstorming ideas for writing but trust me, this is a key step. Even if it’s a loose definition, think about the person (real or fictional) who would most be interested in reading your work.

Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet

By the way, I’ve created a worksheet to help you with this. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password for my resource library. When you’re there, navigate to the Writing category and download the “How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet.”

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Answer these questions

  • What does your ideal reader tend to focus on?
  • On social media, what does your ideal reader like sharing about?
  • From what you can gather, what is your ideal reader most need/want/desire?

Once you know the answers to those initial questions answer this one: what problem are you solving for your ideal reader through your writing?

Through thinking about your ideal reader you should have a few words and phrases jotted down. Take a look and add a few more words to the page.

This time, write down everything you’d like to write about one day. It can be vague or specific, long or short. Just jot down as much as you can think of in a five-minute period.

Look at the list you came up with and compare it to your first one—are you seeing any good brainstorming ideas? Are you seeing some common threads?

Find four topics that match both what you want to write about and what your ideal reader is struggling with. Once you find four, write them down.

This last step is the most fun

Decide how much you’re going to write and break down your topics into sub-categories.

For example, if I have four main topics and I decide I want to write one blog post per week, then I need 52 sub-categories. That is around 13 ideas per topic. While this seems like a lot I don’t need more than a word or short phrase at this point.

I’ll list a few of my brainstorm ideas for the next few blog posts below as an example of what I mean.

But what if you can’t think of sub-categories? Or what if you have a few ideas but can’t get to 13? Here are a few suggestions for finding topic ideas.

This is a little exercise I picked up over the years and since making it work for me I have never sat down wondering what to write.

Writing is no longer a terrifying experience but something I look forward to and find pleasure in. I hope my brainstorm ideas and/or method helps you.

Brainstorm ideas for coming up with sub-categories

  • Pay attention to questions people ask you. If you hear a question you think your ideal reader would ask, write it down
  • If you’re in any online networking groups, take a look around and see the types of questions being asked and the conversations happening. Again, if you see something your ideal reader might be interested in, write it down
  • Go through your emails and see what types of topics the people you follow are addressing. Anything interesting in there? Is there a new angle or spin you can put on the topic and to help your ideal reader in some way?
  • Pick a topic from your list of “I’d like to write about this one day” ideas. Maybe it’s not a top four topic but it might make a perfect sub-category!

If you try these ideas and are still super stuck, here’s a helpful seven-step method to come up with brainstorm ideas fast from HubSpot.

This is the main way I come up with brainstorm ideas whenever I’m working on something new. I’ll condense the steps here for a quick reminder.

Steps for finding brainstorm ideas

  1. First, I put myself in the shoes of my ideal reader and think about what s/he would like to read
  2. Second, I write a quick list of everything I’m interested in writing about one day
  3. Third, I compare the first two lists and see where they intersect. I look for four main topics from this process
  4. Fourth, I brainstorm sub-categories to fit under the four main topics by looking at what people are already asking about, by watching what other people are talking about and by writing about things I think my ideal reader will resonate with

Have you tried this method before? I’d love to compare notes!

Make sure to grab the worksheet for this training. Just pop your email address into the form below and I’ll send you the password for my resource library. When you’re there, navigate to the Writing category and download the “How to Brainstorm Ideas for Writing Worksheet.”

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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Other articles on this subject

This is a little exercise I picked up over the years and since making it work for me I have never sat down wondering what to write. 

Writing is no longer a terrifying experience but something I look forward to and find pleasure in. I hope my brainstorm ideas and/or method helps you.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required
Before I got into the habit of writing and publishing on a schedule I couldn't figure out how to brainstorm ideas. Sitting down to write became terrifying.
Before I got into the habit of writing and publishing on a schedule I couldn't figure out how to brainstorm ideas. Sitting down to write became terrifying.