Last week I attended the Creative Freelancers Conference to market my book What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers and Consultants.
Despite the name of the conference, few independent writers and editors were in attendance. Because this conference is held in tandem with a large design meeting, most of the freelancers were graphic designers and web designers.
This audience is challenging for me to reach. I speak the same language as writers and editors, and my name is known in some sectors of the world of word freelancers. I was crossing the border into the world of image freelancers.
Sales were modest. But I was not disappointed, because my marketing efforts were successful. I connected with leaders of several organizations for freelancers, and they are eager to spread the word about the book to their members. In addition, I made direct contact with about 200 freelancers who were not aware of the book. If only 15% of them eventually buy the book and another 15% tell their professional colleagues about it, that will be a good reach into a relatively untapped market.
When I promote myself as a freelance writer and editor, I don’t think of what I’m doing as sales. Maybe that’s because my services are not tangible, like the books I cart to meetings, put on a table, and ship home if unsold. But every contact we independent writers and editors make is a marketing effort, with a sale as a potential outcome.
Marketing is a long-term effort, whereas sales put money in the bank. The time horizon between marketing and sales can be quite long.
I once met an editor who took almost two years to offer me an assignment. Then I continued to freelance steadily for her for seven years. The wait between marketing and sales was long, but in that case the sales payoff was substantial.
As independent professionals, we have to continually market ourselves. We can’t necessarily expect quick sales, although that of course is the dream when we need work and money to pay our bills. But without marketing, sales will never happen.