When I was kicked out of Azkaban almost a year ago, I decided to put my career in my own hands and go freelance.
A year can make a big difference, good, bad and unconventionally pretty.
I’ve made major mistakes, especially in my marketing strategies and freelance rates. Result being? I’m back in a cubicle and freelancing on the side.
But I’ve also made some pretty good progress. And I’ve learned a lot.
So let’s wrap up the trilogy by taking a look at where things stand, what I need to fix and what you can learn from my mistakes.
Chapter 3: Now What?
My Freelance Writer’s Website
When I started freelancing, I had to put my freelance writer’s website together pretty quickly.
It was a hurried, uneducated, rush job and I don’t like anything about my website HayesCopywriting.com (now offline and updated/moved to Hayes-Writing.com). I don’t like how it looks, how it reads, how it doesn’t land me clients — pick something, I don’t like it.
I specialize in online content and my own website is more embarrassing than showing up to class naked.
It’s also hosted on GoDaddy. While I could do an entire post on why I don’t like GoDaddy, for now I’ll just call it cumbersome to modify, difficult to navigate and more focused on up-selling than serving its customers.
I’ve found another solution and set my GoDaddy account to close at the end of my subscription.
Dear GoDaddy, it’s not me, it’s you.
I’ve found someone else. And I’m moving on.
Construction on my new website is now underway on WordPress. It won’t be as polished I want, but it’s already better than my GoDaddy site and I can work on it more easily.
Plus, I’ll get more the insight into my web traffic and wiggle room in my budget.
- Your Takeaway
You need an online presence that sticks to the ribs. If your website isn’t doing the job, try something else. Evaluate what’s working, what isn’t and problem solve so that any changes you make are strategic. There are solutions out there – just know what you want and find it.
My Marketing Efforts
Ever loaded a blender and pressed the High Speed button without putting the lid on? That’s what my marketing efforts have been like — all over the place.
The problem is that I didn’t put much thought into my business identity, my target audience and how to reach them.
Timidity + no direction = ineffective freelancing
Yes, it’s that simple.
But instead of beating myself up and calling myself a failure — which never gets anyone anywhere — I’m going to:
- Define my freelance brand
– to be done in my business plan
- Profile my ideal client
- Build a marketing plan using The Easy Fifteen Minute Marketing Plan from All Freelance Writing
– a project I’m looking forward to
In creating this marketing plan, I will define where my target audience hangs out and how I can best reach them.
- Your Takeaway
Taking the time to plan your marketing before you hit the High Speed button will save you countless hours (and tears) of cleanup later. Know yourself, know your audience and figure out how you’re going to connect the two.
My Business Plan
In researching business plans for freelancers, I found that (as usual) there are two camps: those who don’t think freelancers need a business plan and those who do.
I’m not going speak for all freelancers. But I need to define my business model, what success looks like and how I’m going to reach my goals. A business plan will help.
These are the resources I’m going to use:
- Write Your Revolution’s The 3-Step DIY Business Plan for Freelance Writers
- Advice from Why Creative Word Fairies Need Business Plans, Too by Virginia Sole-Smith
- 4 Essential Elements of Freelance Business Planning from FreelanceFolder.com
- Freelance Consultant Business Plans from FreelanceSwitch
I’m going to pull the best from all of the above and sit my tail down to write my business plan.
I can have a cookie when I’m done.
- Your Takeaway
Your business plan doesn’t have to be formal, but you do need a roadmap. And you need to answer some hard questions. So even if your business plan isn’t so beautiful it makes Donald Trump weep with envy, you should probably whip one up anyway. Just so you know what you want and where you’re going.
My Freelance Future
I started freelancing with no leads, no clue and no clients. But even though my marketing efforts were less effective than trying to build an Egyptian pyramid out of soggy bread loaves, I eventually caught on and got some clients.
Now that I have a full time, 40-hour onsite contract gig and have started planning my wedding, I’m cutting back on side clients.
There are only so many hours in the day and if I tried to do it all, something would have to give. And that something would be my sanity.
But I’m still building my freelance writing business.
I’m putting together my new freelance writer website, maintaining Rubber Ducky Copywriter, engaging in social media, writing my business plan, formulating marketing strategies and staying active within this wonderful writer’s community I’m lucky enough to have met.
And I still take smaller side assignments here and there. Right now, I’m working on product labels for a local chili startup.
My first freelance efforts were a false start, a rumble strip on the road of life. It happens. I’m not the first freelancer to make a false start and I won’t be the last.
I can tell you this, however: I’m not quitting.
My goal is the same. My drive is the same. My freelancing smarts have leveled up. That counts for a lot.
- Your Takeaway
If you aren’t where you want to be, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It only means that you need to reevaluate what you’re doing and maybe make some changes. Do what you have to do to keep the lights on, but a false start does not mean the end.
I’m not where I planned when I started, but the next time I’m released back into the wild, I’ll hit the freelance ground running.
What about you? Are you where you want to be and if not, what can you do to get there? Share your story in the comments.