Monday, September 15, 2008

Can Your Marketing Efforts Work Too Well?

I know I am always preaching about the virtues of consistent marketing, but this weekend off has really got me thinking. I came across The Irreverent Freelancer's Friday post entitled "The Freelance Market is Temporarily Closed." Kathy Kehrli discusses something I think every solopreneur ends up struggling with a some point or another – balancing a schedule crammed with existing clients and projects while continuing to market for new clients. I can relate to this post so much right now that it's not even funny.

You have enough work to keep you busy for months. In fact, you can't fit in any more clients right now since you are already working 10-15 hour days seven days a week to handle everything on your plate as it is. Your marketing fear is a legitimate one: suppose you continue the same pace of marketing, and a prospect responds with a new project while you are completely swamped with projects. Do you accept and do a mediocre job, or place them on a waiting list for up to one month?

And then there is another scenario to worry about: Suppose you stop marketing altogether while you are busy, then November and December roll around and you don't have enough projects scheduled. What then?

I actually experienced this situation a couple of weeks ago while working on several projects at once – one of which was quite challenging. I suddenly had a new client, which was a testament to my vigilant marketing efforts, but the timing couldn't have been worse. Working with a new client takes extra time to make sure you understand the project scope and understand their business needs. Unfortunately, I just didn't have a lot of time to spare. Somehow I pulled it off, but what about the next time?

I've seen writers post messages like "Not Accepting New Clients until …" on their websites. Believe me, I have certainly felt like doing that, but don't think I can. In times like these you could loose a client in the blink of an eye. How badly it would effect you depends on a lot of things like whether you have another income to depend on, how much money you have saved to fall back on or whether you have other clients in place.

This is becoming a real challenge for my freelancing business. Still, until I find a better solution, my gut is telling me to keep on marketing (maybe contacting fewer prospects) no matter what.


Lori said...

I fit them in. If I can't take them on directly, I get a trusted writer friend to do the work and I get a 10-percent finder's fee.

If they pay what you're worth, take them on. But figure out now who you'd call on to help should you need it. I have three writers I trust implicitly (I've worked with them in the past). There are a few I know would do a good-enough job, and there are those I wouldn't call if I were on fire and they had the only garden hose in town. Those, luckily, are rare finds.

I had what I thought was enough work for the next three months. However, two big projects just stalled. Free time! I'm trying to fill it with smaller projects.

You never know!

Avid Writer said...

lori, that's my fear - thinking I've got it made in the shade with my current clients and then having something go wrong. Right now I have one big client that takes up a lot of my time and pays me well, but I don't trust relying on this situation.

Maybe I need to find some trusted writers that I can go to - I haven't had very good experiences in this area unfortunately...

Irreverent Freelancer said...

Glad to hear I'm not the only one who struggles over this situation. I too am reluctant to take on work and then outsource it, especially if it's a brand new client. I would want to show them my own best effort in the hopes of developing a long-term working relationship. I know I could trust a few other writers to do a quality job, but the administrative logistics of getting them up to speed would take far more time than I have when I'm already swamped. And the conundrum continues ....

Avid Writer said...

irreverant freelancer, it most certainly IS a conundrum. But I suppose it's much better to have the problem of having too many clients rather not having enough to pay the bills. Thanks for stopping by.:)

Diana said...

I would think that if you take on a writer to help you with a project or two while you're swamped, that you should take the newest client and have them work on a project you're already familiar with.
While doing so might slow things down a little, you will be much more able to quickly check their work before handing it over to your client.

That's just an idea, though. I have not yet experienced this too-much-work problem you have. ;)

Avid Writer said...

diana, it's funny you should comment - Lori @ gave me the same advice today!

I know that it COULD work, but I have been burned outsourcing work in the past. But I realize that if I want my business to continue growing, I'll need to get past this and try again. I'll be MUCH smarter this time. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

Designed by Lena