Most writers recognize the need to market themselves and their writing and most will admit to having trouble developing a marketing plan and sticking with it. Some are stuck in the idea that they hate marketing and seem unwilling to get off that.
But most just aren’t clear about what kind of marketing they can and will do and often have a genuine lack of understanding about marketing in general.
What is marketing?
Maybe it will help think about your local farmers market, or the produce section of your supermarket, or those wonderful pictures of markets in far-off places. In each case the wares, the produce, is on display. The hope of the market is that enough people will buy the produce to generate a profit.
There’s no marketing theory behind this. No degrees are necessary. Marketing like this has been done since the dawn of history. People who have extra apples found if they displayed them nicely in a basket neighbors would buy them.
And that’s really what marketing is about – putting potential sellers in a place where others can see what they have to offer and, if they want what’s offered, make you an offer to buy it
Unfortunately, samples of our writing are not as attractive as stacks of oranges, lemons and limes. Of course they don’t spoil the way produce will either, although they can become outdated.
Marketing yourself and your writing is the way you put your wares, your talents, on display so the people who need your skills can find and hire you.
If you don’t market your essentially hiding yourself and your talent, your light as it were, under the proverbial bushel basket. Even if someone wanted to hire someone with exactly your writing skills and were happy to pay your rate, if you’re not marketing, they will never find you.
Marketing isn’t about bragging, or promising more than you can deliver, or being greedy about money, or selling out your art. Marketing doesn’t have to be trashy or rude or offensive to the people who receive your message.
When you’re marketing you’re simply letting people know that you’re a good writer and you’re willing to write for others at a price. It’s really no different than the beautiful stack of bananas or the rustic look of potatoes in a bag. Really.
Okay, end of rant.
About that marketing plan
In the short form, creating a marketing plan is making an agreement with yourself that you will do X kind of marketing X times a week or months. Before you throw your hands up in frustration, I do know it doesn’t feel that easy. Here’s an approach:
Set aside an hour when you’re feeling relaxed and maybe even playful. Make a list of the kind of marketing you know exists. List everything from Super Bowl ads to the back pages various newspapers. Poke around in your mind and add things like radio ads, television ads, magazine ads, billboards, hiring a blimp, and anything else you can think of. Have fun creating this list.
Obviously it’s unlikely you will spend the $4 million or so it takes to buy a Super Bowl ad, let alone what it cost to put one together. Although I kind of like that idea come to think about it. Maybe we can pool our resources?
When your list is long and you’re getting bored with it, make yourself a fresh cup of coffee or tea and pick six from the list that you think would actually work for you – seven if you’re going to include a Super Bowl ad.
In fact, if any of your ideas are expensive substitute something else for the moment, something that is either free or truly inexpensive. I don’t want you to get caught up in the idea of spending a lot of money on your marketing at the moment. That’s a whole different issue.
Now pick four you think actually know how to do – at least in general. If you can’t find four in your list of six, either expand the list of six until you do find something, or just add something so you actually have a list of four marketing actions you know how to take.
You don’t have to be an expert at these four kinds of marketing. You just have to pretty much know how to get it done. If you’re missing some details don’t worry about it; you can pick those up on the fly.
Set a small but measurable goal
The next step is to set a small but measurable goal for your writing business. It has to be a bit of a stretch but not a great big one.
Maybe in the next month you’d like to talk to three or four potential clients or maybe you’d like to be hired for writing job no matter how small.
Decide on something that you’d like o have happen in about a month or six weeks. Write it down
Pick three and schedule
Now, from the list of four ways to market you think you could actually do pick three you think you would do.
From the list of three, choose one.
Decide how often you want to do whatever you picked, and how long it will take you to do each do it each time and schedule it for the next two weeks.
At the end of the first two weeks ask yourself if you did what you said you would or if you didn’t. If you did, congratulations. Continue what you’re doing for at least two more weeks and maybe four.
If you didn’t do any marketing at all or only got part of your marketing plan actualized just noticed that. Take a few moments and recognize what got in your way. You know if it was a legitimate reason like illness, or if it’s some sort of resistance
If it’s resistance take responsibility for that. Resistance doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a person who is resisting marketing.
If you’re resisting see if you can uncover what you’re actually resisting. Maybe you just didn’t like what you picked, or maybe it turned out to be harder than you expected. Your resistance doesn’t have to be the result of a deep dark family secret or evidence of psychological damage. It could be you just realized you didn’t like the kind of marketing you’d picked after all.
Begin again by choosing something and scheduling it.
It’s been my experience that I sometimes have to try whatever it is umpteen times before really becomes part of what I do regularly. That was certainly true for me with marketing. So rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat until you develop a kind of marketing the works for you.
Please understand that we all market differently. There’s no single answer treated as an exploration in a way to discover little bit more about yourself.
When I discovered is mostly true and practice for myself is that when I spend four or five weeks doing something marketing wise consistently I will end up with at least one new client often more than one I suspect the same thing is true for you.
What do you think? Does this plan make sense to you? What would you change let’s talk about it in comments.
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Write well and often,