By Georgina Laidlaw

Self-promotion: Do You Need a New Approach?

By Georgina Laidlaw

Recently, a freelancing friend of mine found himself out of work. He’d been working on contract with one major client, and that contract was cut off. When I spoke to him, he wasn’t sure where to look for work.

He’d spent months out of work, trying online freelance marketplaces, and mailing lists for projects. He didn’t want to get a full-time job, and wasn’t sure where else to look. I told him he should update his website and contact his past clients, but he wasn’t keen. His past clients had moved on, he said. He was really bad at email.

I said I’d help him, and we started work on his site. Days after he published it, he had a call from a multinational tech company to ask about the kinds of project he was interested in. Last week, we finally emailed his past clients. Within 12 hours, he had a string of jobs lined up.

I’m not exaggerating here. It really was that easy.

How much sooner could he have landed work if he’d been willing to try what were, to him, less appealing promotional avenues?

And what about you? Are you missing out on great projects because certain types of promotion don’t appeal to you?


Beyond your comfort zone

Many freelancers go out on their own because they want more varied work, more experimental projects, and more thrills.

But when it comes to promotion, the lower the risk of embarrassment or discomfort, the better. Or so it seems for many of us.

There will always be promotional methods that you loathe the thought of. But what about those that are just a bit difficult? Find a way to overcome your discomfort and, like my friend, you might tap into a whole new pool of opportunities.

To start, make a list of all the promotional methods you don’t hate — but don’t use. Then choose one or two, and do what it takes to make them happen.

Put some time aside in your calendar to work out how you’ll put that method into practice. If you’re not sure where to start, do what my friend did and ask friends or contacts in the industry for their advice. Once you have a plan, again schedule some time to implement it.

The power of experimentation

Call this an experiment if you like. You don’t have to commit yourself to the idea, or its success. You can simply test it out and see how it works.

That may sound silly, but many freelancers I know avoid certain promotions because they don’t want to be “the kind of freelancer who…” The kind of freelancer who’s good at networking, for example. The kind of freelancer who does public speaking. The kind of freelancer who beats their own drum through social media. The kind of freelancer who hassles past clients with spammy emails.

Fine, don’t be that kind of freelancer. Just run a small experiment and see what happens. If it doesn’t work, you can forget about it. If it does, great. That doesn’t mean you have to repeat it in future if you don’t want to. Although I have the feeling that if it does work, you’ll be more willing to use it again the next time you need work.

Have you ever stepped outside your promotional comfort zone? Did it work for you? Let us know in the comments.

  • Georgina,

    Great article. Someone much smarter than I am once advised me to pick 3 marketing methods:

    1. One that you love
    2. One that you dread, but will stretch you beyond your comfort zone
    3. One that will get you some clients right away

    I think that sometimes we need to just get over ourselves. Self-promotion doesn’t mean being boastful or arrogant, but we often try so hard not to look like we’re “selling” that we’ll do everything but … to our own detriment.

    I train sales people who often object to the notion of wearing a tie because, depending on the type of business they’re calling on, “they’ll know right away that I’m a salesman.” My response always is, “How long were you planing to keep it a secret?”

  • somart martin

    thank you!!!!

  • Big fish approaches for little fish to start and acknowledge. If sharks do it, why can’t you :)

    Great lesson Georgina. Again!

  • georgina laidlaw

    Hey guys,
    Glad you enjoyed the post. John, I really like your advice there—though choosing to do something you *dread* in among the daily pressures and freelance juggling might be a bit much for some people :)

  • I posting to forum every day and I believe
    this to be one of the best advertising methods
    available,it is often overlooked as being not very
    responsive. You should stay involved. It may
    take some time but it does work.

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