Here is a question that I often get asked: “How many hours a week should I spend marketing?” I wish I could give straight, simple answers to such questions. However, as is often the case, my answer starts with: “It depends…”
Here is the simplest answer I can give: It depends on how many billable hours per week you want to work. For instance, if you want to work an average of 25 billable hours per week and you are working an average of 5 to 10 billable hours per week, I suggest you devote the difference – 15 to 20 hours per week – to marketing.
I said that to an freelancer who was working about 5 billable hours (hours where your are doing work that generates revenue) a week and he replied that he was “too busy” to spend that much time marketing. I said it was a good thing he was working so few billable hours then because it sounded like he was too busy to take on more paid work! In short, if you want to work 20 to 25 billable hours per week and you are only working 5 or so, but you are too busy to do any marketing, I suspect you are not managing your time very well. (Also read: Time Management 101: Is e-mail stealing your precious time?)
How many hours you should spend marketing is more complex than that. It all starts with your business vision and your business plan, which includes your projected annual income and the per hour rate you want to charge (see Pricing Corporate Assignment blog posts). For instance, if your business vision is to work as a part-time freelancer and you land one or two steady clients, you might not have to spend much time marketing. If your business vision is to work full-time as a freelancer and you have a long-term contract with one company, you might not spend any time marketing – until close to the end of your contract.
If your business plan calls for you to generate $75,000 in revenue this year, and you are working flat out – but for 25-cent per word or $50 per hour jobs, you might want to spend 10 or more hours per week marketing your services – look for prospect that can pay you more. So marketing for freelancers is all relative to what you want to do and what you want to earn and what you are doing and what you are earning.
Still, if you want to work more hours per week and you are spending few, if any, hours marketing your services it could be you have a bigger problem than time management. I suspect the issue is that you don’t know:
- what services you want to offer
- what sectors you want to target
- what marketing tools are available to you
Now would be a good time to sort out your marketing plan. Even though we are mid-summer, the fourth quarter – one of the busiest times of the year for most businesses and publications – is looming. If you want to kick-start your freelance writing business, then now is the time to do it.
Paul Lima is a freelance writer, copywriter and business writing instructor. He is also the author of several books on business writing and the business of freelance writing, including The Six-Figure Freelancer, Business of Freelance Writing and Everything You Wanted to Know about Freelance Writing…