4 Easy Freelance Marketing Ideas for the Holidays

4 creative freelance marketing ideas for the holidays. Makealivingwriting.com

It’s that most wonderful time of the year — for falling into the doldrums and slacking off on your freelance marketing, that is.

It’s easy to come up with reasons for not doing anything to line up new writing clients until January.

You think:

  • Everyone is on vacation, anyway. Why pitch?
  • The days are short and I feel sleepy.
  • I’ll have company soon, or be traveling, so who cares?
  • I’m busy with clients and couldn’t take a new gig now, anyway.

But taking a 6-week marketing vacation is a bad idea. This leads to January panic, when you have to cold-start your marketing after New Year’s. Top-earning writers are always marketing.

Remember, it can take weeks or months for marketing to pay off. So prospecting you do now lays the groundwork for more and better freelance gigs in the coming year.

How can you overcome the challenges of trying to get freelance marketing done during the busy holiday season? Here are four ideas:


1. Drop them a line

This is a great time of year to stay in touch with past and current clients with a quick thank-you card. Let them know you appreciate the opportunity to work with them!

You can also use that card to hold a useful little memento to keep your name in front of them. A refrigerator magnet or pencil works great. I know one writer who recently sent iPad styluses with her name and email engraved on them, in a direct-mail campaign.

How slick is that? No one’s going to throw that away.

Few writers send written notes in the mail, so this is a great way to stand out and build relationships.

2. Give in order to receive

Giving clients gifts has not gone out of style. The trick is to give something meaningful, but not too expensive or lavish.

You want a small token that says, “I appreciate you,” not something that screams “I’m a pathetic, desperate suck-up.”

Especially if you’re dealing with magazine editors, remember that they may well have strict rules about not accepting gifts above $10 or $20 in value. So you’ll need to be creative!

But a small-denomination gift card to a favorite store, or even a nicely wrapped small bag of chocolates can be a sweet way to say thanks.

3. Work the schmooze angle

Do any of your local clients (or prospective clients) throw holiday parties? See if you can wrangle an invite!

When I freelanced for the Los Angeles Times, one of the perks was getting to attend their annual holiday office party. It was a great opportunity to get to know editors better on a personal level in a casual setting away from the usual deadline pressures.

It was not just a chance to build the relationship, but also a time to pick up nuggets of information on how editor needs might be changing in the coming year.

We all deserve a chance to kick back and visit during the holidays. If none of your clients throw parties, see what local networking groups are doing that might offer an opportunity to meet new contacts.

4. Get a head start

If you’re busy with family or booked through the end of the year, you can still do productive marketing.

Here’s how: When you send pitch or introduction letters out, mention that at this point, you’re booked up, but you’re looking at your availability after the New Year. Will they have any needs coming up?

This makes you seem like a successful professional who’s booked up. You also come off as a good planner. This angle will help attract functional clients where the managers are good planners, too.

Do your freelance marketing — then relax

I know too many writers who work straight through the holidays. Keep some marketing going, but also try to go on vacation, even if it’s just for a few days.

You’ll come back refreshed and ready to tackle the new projects you sowed seeds for at the end of this year.

Got a year-end freelance marketing plan? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

How to get great freelance clients.

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23 comments on “4 Easy Freelance Marketing Ideas for the Holidays
  1. Thank you cards are a huge win in my book. I just finished up having a baby shower and making sure every guest that attended wrote their name and address down so that they’d receive a card. You’re right when you say to find something that expresses appreciating the client or anyone of importance.

  2. ooooh! I love the idea of sending a practical gift with my contact info engraved on it..
    Thanks for the tips!
    Lauren Steinheimer recently posted…Some may never live, but the crazy never dieMy Profile

  3. Great timing there! Lots of bloggers just throw in content without thinking about holidays and how can they integrate them in their blog successfully. Thanks for sharing this!


    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, I didn’t do it for me or my blog, Vladimir — I did it because I was hearing from a lot of writers about slacking off their marketing during the holidays. And I know how that can cause income problems, so I wanted to address it and encourage writers to keep going through December. πŸ˜‰

  4. Todd says:

    I got away for a couple days this week and was glad I did so. It helped to recharge my batteries. I was already looking to do some end of the year marketing for after the new year, so this was a fantastic post for me!
    Todd recently posted…Entrepreneur Stories: Enlightened with Samantha HartleyMy Profile

  5. Amar kumar says:

    Hey Carol,

    The holiday season is often the most profitable time of year for businesses across most verticals. This time really considered as amazing time of year to establish relationship with past and present clients with exclusive gifts or card. Eventually, thanks for sharing your experience regarding this subject, it really sounds effective in nature.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar
    Amar kumar recently posted…How to Make Money Flipping Domain NamesMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, it really depends on the type of industry. I used to cover retailing, where it can be tough to get anyone’s attention until after Christmas. But many other industries are heavily into planning for the coming year in December, and it’s a great time to connect.

  6. Lyn Jensen says:

    “Drop them a line” and “give in order to receive.” One year I mailed a holiday card to the staff of my best client, where everyone on staff knows me. I visited shortly before the holidays to find it sitting unopened in my staff mailbox. They had cards sent to them on display, but mine? They hadn’t even opened it. Anybody who could read an envelope address and return address could see that it was from me and to them, but they’d just put it in my mailbox unopened. I haven’t given them a holiday card since.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Why would you have a staff mailbox at a freelance client’s? I’m a little mystified there.

      I wouldn’t let one weird experience keep you from building relationships this way. Sounds like it was a simple mistake, at one company.

      • Lyn Jensen says:

        Although I work freelance, the office predates the Internet. People who write/work for the employer have old-fashioned cubbyhole mailboxes. They hold our checks, press releases, mail for us that’s sent to the office address, things like that. Someone sorting the mail saw my name on the RETURN address–and I guess they “returned” it to me. What I’m saying is, even sending a holiday card can get screwed up.

        • Carol Tice says:

          Sure…but mostly, it doesn’t. Not a lot of old-school cubbies for freelancers at their clients, so I think the risk on that is generally pretty low.

          And…they hold your mail and checks? Can’t afford a stamp, eh? Seems sort of a passive-aggressive way to force you to come into the office, which as freelancers, you shouldn’t have to do.

  7. Burton Bliven says:

    Yet another timely, great topic Carol! I have been one of those “Holiday Slackers,” finding all the excuses for why Thanksgiving though New Year’s Day is not a good time for prospecting. Great ideas, and all the comments were especially helpful–especially yours, concerning the accelerated fundraising activity of charity organizations this time of the year; and, because fundraising for charities is my main niche, I am going to take your advice and capitalize on this golden opportunity, so I Can start the New Year with a bang–not just the bangs from the ball dropping in Times Square!

  8. Great ideas, Carol. And everyone is right, in our techno culture there is never a right or wrong time. Folks work at all hours of the day or night any day they can fit it in.
    Carol J Alexander recently posted…How to Write the Query Letter that SellsMy Profile

  9. Emily says:

    This post is helpful, and even more helpful are the comments. I was wondering if this was a bad time of year to send out pitches, etc. Then I realized that I’m getting my name out to (potential) clients right before many of them are working from new year budgets.
    Emily recently posted…Weird History, Part Eight: Stories From Wampanoag Culture That You Can Share at ThanksgivingMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Some of them have those budgets ALREADY, Emily. Good companies have it in the fall, for the coming year.

      Freelancers should never start playing the guessing game of “Is this a good time of year/day of the week/time of day to pitch.” Once you start down that road, you’ll find a reason not to pitch every single day of the year! There’s always an excuse.

      Meanwhile, I know writers who’ve gotten responses at every hour, on every holiday. You never know what’s going on. And meanwhile, just for your own sanity and for the sake of your business and creating steady income, you should just pitch routinely. Just don’t stop.

  10. Tom Bentley says:

    I’m with you, Carol. I’ve sent multiple queries out this week for various pieces; freelancers really can’t afford to lose momentum in allegedly “lull” periods, because as you point out, then you have to play catch-up. (And the bills never lose momentum.)

    Thanks for thisβ€”I tweeted its glories…
    Tom Bentley recently posted…Writers All Start Out as Drooling EeegitsMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      LOL — so true! If anything there are MORE bills during holiday time. Don’t know about anyone else, but I’m buying these great silk-flower necklaces made by refugee women and giving them to all my friends and relatives. There are a million charity appeals this time of year. We probably spend MORE in December! Why would this be a time to slack off of marketing?

  11. Evan Jensen says:

    This post got me thinking about something that happened at the end of 2015 when I amped up my marketing efforts. I scored a sweet gig in my niche through an agency writing blog posts about fitness and nutrition for a gym franchise.

    Actually sent a bunch of LOIs over the Thanksgiving holiday. The following week I got a response and phone interview. By mid-December, I was on contract. This has been a solid client with ongoing work for all of 2016, and the forseeable future.

    A couple months ago, the agency said they needed a writer to blog for another fitness client they landed and I was their first pick. Sweet.

    If you’re thinking about putting off marketing until after the holidays are over because “everybody is busy,” you’re potentially missing out on landing more client work. Seriously, every day is a good day for marketing if you want to make more money.

    Keep going.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks for sharing this great example, Evan, of how holiday marketing can pay off!

      And…yes. Stop imagining editors are out of the office. They work all the time! When I was a staffer, we had our choice of day after Thanksgiving or day after Christmas off. Couldn’t have both. You don’t know who doesn’t care about Thanksgiving or do anything that weekend, or doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Stop second-guessing, and just. keep. marketing!

  12. Kaitlin Morrison says:

    Perfect timing for this post. I’ve been thinking a lot about my marketing through the holidays but i know I’ll be really busy with family stuff.

    Last year, I really appreciated the bit of marketing I did manage to do in November and December. While those months were pretty slow, in January the responses from prospects started to roll in. If you want a strong January, you really need to start right now.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Y E S! Exactly.

      I think there’s a huge disconnect that people think they can start with a bang in January and book some gigs. Bulletin — it can take a month or three for marketing to pay off! If you want to have a big January, squeeze in some marketing in the next 6 weeks.

      Because…People stagger back from New Year’s weekend and it can take a week or three to sort of get organized after winter breaks, and then you’re panicking as you realize you have nothing booked for January! NOT good.