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.
- 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.