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Make time for marketing when you’re fully booked

Focusing on bringing in new clients while you're fully booked can be a big issue for freelancers. So that's what we're going to chat about because freelance can often feel like a boom and bust and depending on who you ask there's never a good time to be getting work...

00:00 Hello I’ve had a couple of people start with me recently and things start to go really well and businesses picking up and they’ve asked the question, how do I keep focusing on bringing in new clients while I’m also fully booked? So that’s what we’re going to chat about because freelance can often feel like a boom and bust and depending on who you ask there’s never a good time to be getting work.

00:31 So there’s the, the summer lull and then there’s a little bit of, it picks up a little bit in September, October, but then November, December things shut down and you know then there’s the people coming back to work in January.

00:44 So that’s not really a great time and you know then there’s the dark times of the year and I guess then there’s the end of if you’re based in the UK there’s the end of what’s it?

00:54 March when some people need to be spending budgets before the new tax year starts and you know before you know it will back in June and July and back to the summer lull again.

01:05 So to some people there’s this. Never ending lull. And this can come across into your business where it’s like, all right, I’ve got these times where I’m really busy and I’ve got these times that I’m not really busy and it’s like I want to like level all of this out.

01:23 Generally when people get in touch with me, they’re at that point where it’s like they’re actually, well, maybe not genuinely, but there’s times where people are getting in touch and they’re saying, I really need work.

01:34 How do I? Get work. And then as soon as they get that work, they’re like, all right, awesome. We can go off into the sunset and everything’s wonderful again.

01:44 Not really. But that’s fine. Like for some people, if that’s the way they want to do it, they want to go and they’ll want to get more clients and then that’s they go off into the sunset.

01:58 Some people just want to feel better. That’s absolutely fine. Sometimes the work that I do is like therapy help somebody overcome a couple of hurdles, help them feel better about their situation, implement a couple of things that they can use.

02:12 And then away they go again. It is what it is. But what that actually says is that a person’s not thinking about the problem overall and actually planning how to deal with the the actual problem rather than just the symptom of it, which is this boom and bust that comes and goes.

02:31 So there’s a few different sections, a few different things that feed into this problem. So I think some people think that the point of the business is just to get projects.

02:42 So the business part exists, the marketing part exists just to get the projects, the projects part is the fun part and then the rest of it’s kind of like, it doesn’t, it doesn’t really matter.

02:54 But just to be perfectly frank, just because of the world that we live in as much as we might love it or hate it.

02:59 Generally, the reason a business exists is to perpetuate its own existence. That’s it. And if you actually think about, It explains a lot of the decisions that the people that run the businesses, the people that work within them, it explains a lot of the decisions that they make.

03:14 Why are they not making better decisions? Because, or better as in, you know better for, the overall world, or better morally, or whatever.

03:24 It’s because they’re making decisions that actually perpetuate the existence of the business and allow those decisions. It’s because of individuals to actually continue to get a paycheck, which is what most of us need.

03:35 But actually the point of, if we’re going to look at it as, okay, I’m a freelancer, I have a freelance business, I own my business.

03:44 I want to continue, I want to perpetuate the existence of this business so I can continue with the lifestyle I have.

03:49 Then what that does is it re-prioritizes the outreach, the marketing, the all different things that you might do that bring.

03:56 Which means that when somebody is asking the question, how do I, if I’m fully booked, how do I keep bringing the projects coming in?

04:10 And then it reframes it because it’s like, if you’re fully booked, you’re saying, okay, I don’t have enough time to do this other stuff, but if I want to perpetuate the business, this other stuff needs to take a certain priority and then projects fit in around it.

04:26 Another part of the problem, I think, is short-termism. We want the work, but we don’t want to do the work that gets us the work.

04:34 It’s not the fun part where we don’t see ourselves as right. We don’t see ourselves as marketers. We don’t see ourselves as salespeople.

04:41 All those things are essential to being a freelancer. You are a salesperson. You’re a person that can talk about your own business.

04:49 You’re a person that, like, converts them. You’re a person who tells somebody about what you do in a way that compels them to work with you.

04:57 It’s just a natural part of it. If we are getting beyond this short-termism and not just the like, oh I can’t afford doing work, gets the work and actually just make it part of the routine and we can get past this idea of yeah, I’m in a boom phase.

05:16 This is going to last forever. When generally all booms come to an end. Not just generally, all booms do come to an end.

05:26 That is the part that we’re going to get to the bust, however big or small that bust might be. But getting out of the short-term mentality of this is going to last forever helps us prioritize the things that we need to do in order to continue to bring in work.

05:41 And actually get past this idea that we’re saying at the start of, or this forever alone. It’s not true. And businesses can make money all year round, businesses can make money whenever you want to, but it’s about keeping the thing, the wheel of moving.

05:59 The next I think is part of the problem is that we all enjoy the fruits of our labour and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

06:06 We’re doing good work and we’re earning. And the money we want to earn, then one of the benefits of being a freelancer is we can get to actually enjoy that.

06:14 We can spend our time how we want to, we can see the people we want to, we can, you know, not have to be forced to be working all of the time.

06:24 And that’s fair enough. But if you’re wanting to keep business coming in, if you’re making enough money, then doing things like investing to make the future brighter.

06:35 Hiring, potentially, potentially hiring somebody to do the bits that we don’t want to do or hiring and support to keep the good times rolling to potentially take over.

06:45 Some of the parts of your work that you don’t enjoy or you don’t feel that you’re the best at and bringing somebody in that supports your business and it gives you back time that you can then spend.

07:02 And I think actually one of the issues that we have is that we get stuck in our ways. If there There are easy things.

07:12 There are often if we’re in a situation there are easy things we can do to get ourselves out of it.

07:17 If we could just like take the blinkers off a little or just change our focus a little or even just be willing to try things that maybe haven’t worked out so well in the past.

07:26 Then we can see a lot of benefit. So getting out of our own way in this moment when we’re thinking alright how can I bring in more work?

07:35 How can I keep doing outreach while I’ve also got the client work? How can I maybe just box off a little time in my week that I know I’ve got a full week of projects and this is the fun stuff and this is the stuff that I absolutely love.

07:49 Just box off a bit of my week and do the essential things. That are going to be necessary in order to keep a good time rolling, to keep these projects coming, to keep the good part of this work that I absolutely love happening in my life, rather than letting it all fall to the wayside then a couple of

08:05 months down the line. Realizing, shit, I don’t have any more people in my pipeline, I need to actually get things start again, you know, just keep the wheels moving.

08:20 Outlining the problem, how do we get out of that boom and bust? There are lots of ways, but I have a few that I can share with you right now.

08:30 One that I scream for the root-ups as often as I can, make marketing part of the off-boarding process of a project.

08:42 And so, most, freelancers will have an off-boarding, maybe it isn’t written down as a proper process, but they’ll have things they’ll do as part of their off-boarding.

08:52 Having your invoices paid is one of them. And sending across the files is another. Like those are the kind of things that often come up when I’m working through an off-boarding process with somebody.

09:03 But what you can also add to that is asking for a testimonial, you know. Taking whatever it is that you’ve made for this client and turning it into something that you can use as part of your marketing.

09:19 And having that factored into, alright, when this project ends I am going to, do these steps, which is something that I’m going to use for my marketing.

09:28 As an example, something that I do as part of the branding process is the file, the presentation that I send a brand to a client.

09:38 It’s set up in the same way for the client as it would be for the website. Website, so that when the client, the thing that’s into the client will design it once, and then as soon as that’s approved and they’re happy with it, it can drop into the website and have some text around it to give a bit of

09:53 an explainer or whatnot, but it means I’m not designing the same presentation twice. Adding this process or thinking about the process that happens within the project then enables me to have my marketing be much, much faster.

10:08 The project finishes the case that is online now it’s just a case of taking some of those elements and putting them into a post that might go out.

10:15 Or a few posts, or, you know, sending them the kind of thing that might be sent to a list of contacts.

10:28 It’s an essential part of how I finish the project, so you can then take that and you can put it down as done.

10:34 And you have everything that you need in order to then do the next stage, which is the promotion part of it.

10:42 I’ve seen some of the other posts and the videos that I’ve put out, there’s ways that you can factor that into how you’re charging so that you are being paid for this time that you’re going to spend doing your marketing.

10:56 The next thing is, in a way, the next good way to get out of this boom and bust is to collect and share testimonials in key parts of the project.

11:07 So you don’t just have to wait until the end of a project in order to get testimonial. If someone is getting value as they’re going through the project, if they’re telling you that they’re happy with your work, if there’s times that you’ve gone above and beyond and you’ve gone beyond their expectations

11:26 , they, they’re, and they’re giving like really positive noise and they’re saying that this is great, whatever. Ask them if they can just write short testimonial about that part or, better yet ask them if you can use a screenshot of what it is that they’ve said or you can take whatever it is that they’ve

11:42 written in an email or if they’ve done a video or a voicemail or whatever. It is and you can take that and put it out and be like, well, I’m working with this client.

11:51 I’ve just unless they’ve had something really like a really positive feeling about it. Here’s what they have to say that enables you to keep.

11:59 Showing that you’re doing good work, even if you’re not yet finished a project. So if you have projects at last three, four, six, 12, 18, you know, however many months, then you’re not having to wait to the very end in order to.

12:13 Get this nice little wall self-contained know that you can then send out, you can take what people are saying and the positive things that your clients are saying as you go through the process and share them directly.

12:28 The next thing I would say is have a diverse way of bringing new projects, so if you are, if you’re not a huge fan of doing the kind of posts that you might go on.

12:43 So for me, if you’re not a huge fan of any other part of your marketing, then have a diverse way, diverse avenues that you can receive inquiries or you can put things out there.

12:58 I mean, this is marketing basics, but it means that you can always find time to do one of the things rather than creating this big thing in your head.

13:07 It’s like, oh no, I see me sit down and do a marketing, I need to do this, I need to do that, I need to do that, I need to do that, I need to do that, I need to do that, I need to do that. If you have a diverse way of getting your message out into the world and that getting people to know about you then

13:18 it makes it easier for you to actually find time to fit something into your week so that you can keep doing this kind of, doing your promotion.

13:31 Doing your marketing while you’re also delivering the projects that you’re doing. So a few examples for you. Reaching out to all clients, having templates, emails that you can send them.

13:42 Okay, I’ve just done this project. I know this is of interest to you for these reasons. Check it out if you like.

13:49 By the way, I’ve got some availability coming up on these dates if you’re interested. Asking your network for referrals. So, the people, there are this six degrees of separation.

14:03 If you just take the people that you know, it’s quite a small group, but if you then take all the people that they know, then you end up having a bigger group.

14:11 If you like, who like you and trust you and know that you can do a job, asking them to put you in touch with people that they know, either directly saying, oh, I know you’re in touch with this organization or these people, I’d love to have a referral to them.

14:25 Or just asking them and saying, hey, you know, I’ve been doing this, I’ve been doing this kind of work. These are the kind of outcomes I get.

14:31 Who do you know that would like those kind of outcomes for their business or organization? And direct outreach is, It can feel scary but actually you being able to just to reach out directly using the same kind of template that you might read and use to reach out to all clients, people who are open.

14:52 Organizations who, you know what it is they’re looking to achieve, you can say, hey, I want to reach out to you.

14:58 I know you’re trying to, you’re working on this kind of thing. I’ve done a similar project that might be able to help you.

15:04 Here’s a couple of details about it. Here’s a link to it. I’d love to have a conversation with you. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

15:10 Because in these instances, you are offering somebody the opportunity, eh, to be helped. You say, you say if you know what they’re trying to, outcomes that they’re trying to achieve, and you can reach out and say, look, I’m happy to help you try and achieve them.

15:25 This is the way we would go about it. Would you like to have a conversation? Because that’s all yourself. That’s all you’re asking for.

15:31 That’s all you’re selling them is a conversation. Do you want to have a chat about it? You’re not saying, do you want to sign up for something?

15:38 And this is how much it’s going to cost. It’s just the next step. And as with direct reach, outreach to potential clients, you can also do the same with agencies.

15:49 Thinking about what was at the start, businesses exist to perpetuate themselves, especially in the larger business. As you get to the larger scales, they have more people they need to look after, they have more bills they need to pay, they have more like rents and subscriptions and blah blah blah.

16:07 So you can offer agencies. A way of making even more money. Fair enough using your skills, but what you’re doing is you’re leveraging their marketing framework.

16:20 So getting in touch with the person directly. Finding a person who’s like would be most interested in your skills and talking to them as a human being because people within organizations, they all have personal goals.

16:33 They all have things that they want to achieve. And if you focus on helping them achieve. Those things then they will like you for that and they will keep you around because as long as you can benefit their personal goals within their business, then you’re up.

16:47 Supposedly benefiting the organization that they work with, then that’s a win-win-win all around. You can do the same to reach out for recruiters if you must, but from hearing how the recruiter scene, let’s say, has been this year it seems like it’s a bit, it’s a lot of effort to put a give in, like,

17:13 a lot for it. So recruiters, if you must, but reason after all clients asking your network going direct to agencies and direct to potential clients.

17:27 I’d say all of those are really good ways of going about things. Cause I mean, if you’re gonna knock your head against a wall, which sometimes workers can feel, then you might as well do it in a way that’s actually gonna get you like.

17:41 Really high benefits at the other end of it. It’s the whole idea of, it takes as much effort to sell a 500 quid project it does to sell like a 50 grand project.

17:54 So, why would you waste your time going for something where it’s like you’re the most limited and you can go to the same, it’s going to get you no success.

18:08 People always think of when they think of marketing because we spend all our time on social media. So we think everything has to be content marketing and I know it a hundred percent doesn’t you know it doesn’t because loads so many businesses don’t do that so many freelancers don’t do that and it’s just

18:25 that we spend if we spend a lot of time on social media then we see people that are creating content and we think that we have to be doing this.

18:31 We don’t. It’s all about your networks. It’s all about the conversations you’re having and this is why continuing to do this kind of work, the work, the marketing work, the promo work is actually much easier than you might have in your head.

18:45 How do I keep doing the stuff I need to do to bring business in while I’m also delivering projects? It’s about keeping in touch with the people in your network.

18:52 It’s about keeping in touch with people that you can benefit and can also benefit. You so that you are in somebody’s mind when they might need you.

19:05 So this doesn’t need you to create lots of content necessarily but instead of just having the conversations, keeping in touch, doing that outreach, making sure that you’re making positive connections with people.

19:19 That is the best ways. But if it actually, you want to do content marketing, then actually share sharing your knowledge, sharing your expertise, sharing the work that you’ve done and the great outcomes that you’ve got for the people that you’ve worked with.

19:33 This is actually a, it’s a blessing. It’s something that you are, you get to do, rather and you have to do.

19:40 And the fact is that if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. You’re a freelancer. This is your business.

19:45 You get to run it in the way that you want to run it. And as long as you are doing some outreach and you’re getting you’re connecting.

19:52 With people outside of yourself, then you will projects will come. And if you’re doing it while you’re also delivering the project and you’re collecting what like a collecting your testimonials and yeah.

20:04 And putting your marketing into your off-boarding process, then all of these things will just happen. But part of that is to stop.

20:16 And detaching the marketing from like the business itself and put it into the business and how you operate and how you deliver projects to make your life easier.

20:26 And then additionally, there’s also like online networks. So places like the dots, places like Behance or Dribble or Fring or there’s like slack channels and discord channels and that kind of thing.

20:42 So there’s a lot of different ways that you can connect with the people or the people who need your services.

20:48 And if you’re able to keep in touch with them on a regular basis, as I say, block out time in your calendar every week or every month or however long.

20:58 Gaps that you, you want to take or however regularly you want to do it. This is what’s going to keep the work flowing.

21:05 Rather than having this put them on post. And then the last point, which is actually perhaps one of the first things you should do is review your online presence.

21:17 So wherever it is that you’re going to be promoting yourself be it through slack, be it through link. And be it through wherever and make sure that your profile in there is up to date.

21:27 It’s talking about the kind of work that you want to, you want to get. And it’s talking in a way that your ideal client would be would connect that would connect with your ideal client so that when they, if they see something that you’re putting out into the world, or if they’re referred to you or however

21:45 else it is that they find out about you and they want to do it. a bit of research. When they look you up, they see exactly what it is that you want them to see.

21:53 So they see what it is that you do. They can find out, easily find out how it is that you help people like them.

22:00 They can see you. Social proof. So things like testimonials or rating scores or whatever else. Logos of the people that you’ve worked with previously as well as like links to some of your work.

22:13 So reviewing that. You know, your online presence so that when they take that next step, the thing that they see there is exactly what you want them to see.

22:24 That’s why it’s not just, it’s not just admin or like tidying it up. But more being like, all right, what is it that I want my ideal client to see when they come to my pages?

22:33 What is it I want them to be able to think of me when they’re trying to check me out? And then here’s the information you put into your online profile.

22:41 So that’s it. There’s a few different things, a few different ways that you can approach doing your promotion while you are mega busy.

22:51 I’d say the most important is to re-promise. Prioritize the marketing, to realize that working, that you need to be doing the regular regular things, but keep the lights on, keep the wheels spinning that are going to perpetuate your business.

23:12 There’s lots of different ways that you can go about it, but they aren’t a secondary thing. Doing your self-promotion isn’t a secondary and isn’t outside.

23:22 The promotion is the thing that’s going to perpetuate you and perpetuate your business and keep money coming in and keep projects coming in and that kind of thing.

23:37 So yeah, I hope that was useful. If you have any questions, you can drop me a message on LinkedIn or drop me a message.

23:46 Or drop me an email, allwell at And yeah, see you for the next one.

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