If you freelance, you’re running a business. You’re an entrepreneur. Your business sells you and your work and other businesses pay you.
I don’t like using those terms much though, because so much fluff and image is caught up in the ideas of Business and Entrepreneurship. I know they hold special clout in the African American community specifically, and honestly, I avoid them as much as possible — and that’s because this site isn’t about building clout or impressing family members or people you meet at networking events with talk of 30-page business plans or what you read on Forbes. It’s about helping individual freelancers like you build lives you love, spend more time with your children, afford an extra vacation a year, decrease stress around money, or…even afford things that build clout.
That’s why I want to give you this simplified marketing plan.
Simple is essential here, because marketing is hard. I hate it personally. I hate selling. It feels manipulative and slimy to me, and I know many creatives who dislike it even more. A long, detailed marketing plan just isn’t something you can stick with comfortably over the long-term, and long-term is the whole point.
Simple is essential because we live in a world that changes quickly. That’s doubly true if your work involves the Internet at all. I’ve had at least 4 distinct approaches to who I worked with in the first year, and if I’d bogged myself down with creating a new, detailed plan each time, I’d have lost the agility I needed to change course before settling down into what worked best for me.
Simple is essential because it’s all you need. Planning is not the place for you to waste energy.
The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.
― Albert Einstein
So…your plan. These questions are going to take some thought, and you’re going to want to spend time answering them openly and honestly. Each question should be answered in one sentence, and that’s the hard part. The point of this is to whittle down all the options you have as a freelance worker into clean thoughts you can go out and take action on.
Each question includes an example answer (from the perspective of a web design company) to help you through any rough spots, but as always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@BlackFreelance1) or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need any input.
Also, if you’re a member and want a spot where people will help keep you accountable, come visit our Monthly Meetups forum to start moving on your marketing plan today!
Who do I serve? (Who is my ideal customer?)
Small doctor’s and dentist’s offices with non-interactive websites. (Be specific.)
How do I help them with their business?
I help them bring on new patients by learning who their patient base is, and creating websites that appeal to those consumers.
Why should they choose me over other options?
I complete work on schedule, am easy to work with, and take the time to learn about their patient needs and practice goals before doing any work.
Where does the money come from?
The people/entities who pay include patients, insurance companies, and government agencies.
What trends are important to the people who pay me?
My clients care about specialized patient education and sophisticated websites that do more than just inform.
Who are my competitors?
While they evaluate me, my customers are also considering boxed website solutions and other small to medium website design and marketing companies
How will my customers find out about me?
I have a profile on LinkedIn and UpWork that clearly uses searchable keywords to identify me as a freelancer; and I write SEO-optimized articles on helpful tools and tips for doctors looking to get involved in online marketing that I share on social media.
How will I get them to buy?
My articles lead customers to my website, which lists my services and explains clearly how to contact me and how to begin discussing a project.
What purpose will my web presence serve?
I use my web presence to generate new leads through my contact area and my weekly newsletter.
How will I keep in touch with past clients?
I collect emails and publish a weekly newsletter to keep my work fresh in the minds of doctors.
How much time will I devote to marketing each week?
I will spend at least 4 hours each week on marketing.
What will I do?
I will contact old clients, create new materials for my site, and engage on my business social media accounts.
How will I know if it works?
I will track how many new contacts I get each month.
Where do I want to be this time next year?
I want to be making twice per hour of work that I am making now. (or I want to be able to cover my entire mortgage payment with my freelance work.)
You might have gotten hung up on a few there, which is completely normal — these are answers I’m constantly refining and reworking myself. If you want deeper feedback from the BlackFreelance community, come discuss your answers in the member community, where we cover this marketing plan specifically.