Notes From a Hired Pen

Marketing for the freelancer: why it works

Yesterday, I wrote about how I was in a terrible mood, and about how, as a teenager, I used to bang on the piano to work out tension.

Here’s what happened after I wrote that post:

1. I went to the gym and threw around heavy weights for a half hour.

2. Two large projects were greenlit within minutes of each other. One is a corporate job I was asked to price last week; the other a magazine story I pitched in March. They’re both due in two weeks. Then, that afternoon, a custom content client came to me with two jobs due in July.

I’ve been at this long enough to know that exercises always eases tension (even when I’m not running much, like right now), and that there are peaks and valleys in freelancing. Even as I spent much of the morning staring at my assignment calendar wondering how I could drum up some work, I told myself it would even out. Then poof! It did.

There’s a lot of worrying in freelancing – a lot. Will this check come in on time? Why is no one calling me back? Can I really keep doing this? Nearly 10 years in (full time), I still deal with this.

One way to cut down on that worry, or preventing those worries from becoming reality, is marketing. These assignments didn’t just fall out of the sky. I laid the groundwork for all of them months and years in advance  i.e. sending the magazine pitch (and following up!), building a long term relationship with my corporate client so that they’d approach me first. That’s why marketing – even when you’re busy – is important. You have no idea when your efforts will lead to more work, and it takes some of the worry out of the times when your calendar’s looking a little empty.

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