Writing vs Marketing: 5 Tips for Scheduling Your Freelance Time

My Freelance Writing ScheduleBy Carol Tice

Ah, the old juggling act. As a freelance writer, you need time to write! Even if you don’t have an assignment, you need time to practice your writing. But at the same time, you’ve got to be out there marketing your freelance-writing business to keep it growing.

How can a writer find time in their schedule for both writing and marketing? It’s always a tricky balancing act.

Earlier this week, responding to Alyssa’s post about time management and juggling family and writing, reader Kelli commented:

Now that my youngest is in kindergarten, I’ve got 15-20 hours/week to devote to writing! No excuses!

I’m curious how people find balance between looking for writing gigs and actually writing? I feel like I could spend hours researching the aspects of starting a freelance business, but then the writing time fades away!

She brings up a great point. Marketing your writing business is a bottomless pit! There’s always more you could be doing. A few more comments on those forums, another networking meeting, a few more query letters to send, an hour researching prospects you might send messages to on LinkedIn.

Especially if you’re getting started in freelancing writing, as Kelli says she’s doing — you could easily read all day about whether or not to write for content mills, for instance, and which ones pay better. Or research whether creating and monetizing your own niche blog would be a better way to go than trying to land copywriting clients.

Here are some tips for keeping your writing on track while still devoting enough time to marketing:

1. Remember it’s all about the writing. If you have writing assignments, meeting those deadlines comes first. Period. Keeping existing clients happy is job one. If you have no current clients, write for at least an hour a day on something — your blog, a journal, spec articles. Then spend all the rest of your time on marketing. Paying clients are essential to keep the freelance lifestyle going, so focus on lining them up!

2. Keep it contained. To keep from losing your mind, find a containable slice of marketing that you can handle within the time you know you’ll have. Perhaps have a different marketing task each day — Monday you check job boards, Tuesday you write queries, etc.

3. Reserve a specific time block for marketing. Maybe it’s at night after the kids go to bed — that’s your marketing time. Or maybe for two hours first thing in the morning. Or Wednesday is marketing day. Any way that works for you, but set up a specific time each week for marketing. That way it’ll happen, but you’ll also have a clear sense of when marketing time is over and it’s time to write.

4. Have a goal. Marketing is a lot easier to execute when you know what you’re trying to accomplish. Do you feel destined to be the next $1 million blogger? Then learn about blogging. Do you need to land a major copywriting client to provide a measure of security to your freelance writing? Then focus on cold-calling, direct mail, in-person networking, or whatever other strategies you feel will most readily connect you with businesses hiring freelancers.

5. Measure your results. Whatever the goal, try to pursue several strategies at a time. Then, after several months, take a look at the results. How have you found your assignments? The answers are often VERY interesting, and can help you figure out the most productive ways to spend your marketing time.

Next week, I’ll talk about how I got great clients this year — what marketing strategies got real results and landed me clients paying $.50-$1 a word, $100 an hour, and up.

How do you work marketing time into your schedule? Leave a comment and tell us your techniques.

This post originally appeared on the WM Freelance Writer’s Connection.

Photo via Flickr user Dru Bloomfield – At Home in Scottsdale