How the Marketing Merry-Go-Round Almost Killed My Freelance Writing Career

This is a guest post by Lizz Shepherd.

Most freelance writers who have been around for a while will tell you never to get complacent in your marketing. If you stop marketing, you eventually disappear from the minds, rosters and spheres of potential clients.

I’ve been around for a long time; I started freelancing in 2006 and I’ve stopped marketing quite a few times. For the first few years, I thought that was fine. It wasn’t a big deal, I thought, because I could always make up for time spent away from marketing with fervent activity.

What Happens When You Stop Marketing

When I had several clients and a few good content companies to write for, I felt safe and forgot all about marketing. I’d write for several hours a day and feel that my career was pretty safe.

Freelance Writing Tips on MarketingMarketing? Pfft. I used to do that,” I’d think, “but I don’t need to anymore.”

But inevitably, the bottom always drops out.


One or two clients disappear without a trace or go out of business. A content company will close its doors or simply slow to a crawl.

Why the Marketing Merry-Go-Round Makes You Panic

When this happens, I’ve panicked and send out an insane amount of marketing in just a few days. Of course, that means that I had almost no income for those days while spending 10 hours a day applying to anything that was remotely possible.

After a few exhausting days or marketing my own content writing website and applying like a crazy person, I would then spend a few days answering the flood of responses while simultaneously trying to work more hours to make up for the income lost while I was marketing.

What the Marketing Merry-Go-Round Taught Me

Being on the marketing merry-go-round is exhausting. It’s nerve-wracking and it makes your freelance writing business a feast-or-famine enterprise that is hard to sustain over time.

“What I’ve learned from many times on the merry-go-round is that you are never safe enough in your writing career to stop marketing.”

You can be in the business for 10 years and be left without an income out in a week when a few clients stop doing business.

How Many Writing Jobs Should You Apply for to Keep Jobs Flowing in Consistently: The Formula That Works for Me

What I’ve discovered is that the occasional day spent on nothing but marketing is fine, but most marketing should be done as a steady process no matter how comfortable and safe you feel.

I’ve found that applying to one thing a day isn’t worth the time it takes away from writing, so I apply to three to five things a day. This has been a great way to keep work coming in to replace work that disappears. But, it also gives me plenty of choices in what I accept and what I don’t.

Staving Off Desperation

If I’m offered a contract but I don’t like the terms, I don’t have to take it out of desperation. I know that I’ll most likely get another offer or two that week, and the week after that, or the week after that. In short, when you market consistently, you stop the ride and step off the merry-go-round. And that’s the goal.

After all, amusement park rides are fun for a short time – they’re not supposed to last forever.

Share Your Thoughts

Do you ride the marketing merry-go-round? How have your marketing habits helped/hurt your freelance writing career? Please share in the comments section below. 

About the Author: Lizz Shepherd is a former reporter and published author who writes web copy and PR materials.


P.S.:  Dramatically increase your chance of landing freelance writing jobs — find them before they’re made public.

I’ve been blessed with the “mind of a marketer,” so to speak. It’s what’s accounted for my freelance writing success over the years. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told somebody about a marketing technique I use and I’ll get a response like, “I never would have thought to do that.”

Unsolicited Testimonial


I just purchased your ebook on 7 ways to market your freelance writing business. I’m only on page 19 – the second idea – and I must say that my writing business will never be the same again! (emphasis added) After reading only 2 of the 7 ideas you mention, I can’t believe I didn’t think of these before! Nobody mentions them in freelance writing discussions, and it’s no wonder that so many are hurting for clients. I am truly blown away!

Thank you for revolutionizing my business with this information.


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    1. I can tell you I’ve had these same feelings of being on the marketing merry-go-round, and I’ve made the mistake of stopping at times. Now of course, I have a VA that does this for me consistently. But Yuwanda, I like your idea of personalizing the emails. If I can teach my VA to do that in a coherent way, it could really increase my response rate. Thanks as always for the relevant and informative post.

      • Paul,

        You’re welcome on the information. I’m glad you found it useful.

        As for training a VA, boy is THAT a post I need to do. But once you find a good one — and get them trained — they’re worth their weight in gold!

        FYI, most freelancers dream to be where you are — to be able to hire consistent help. I definitely advise it as soon as you can, even if only for a few hours per week.

        I’m at the point now where I need to hire a FT one — but I keep putting it off b/c of the training thing. The one I use now does specific duties for me; I just haven’t had time to break down and train him to do other things.

        As you know though, that’s part of running a busy freelance writing business — there’s always something to do! 🙂

        Good, as always, to hear from you.

    2. Yuwanda, this post is a good reminder to freelancers to never get comfortable and stop marketing because there’s nothing to protect a client form no longer needing your services or simply dropping out of the picture without notice. Happens all the time. Best way to ensure financial security as a freelancer is to market constantly to keep a steady flow of work in the pipeline.

      • Kimberly:

        I know I suffer from “stop marketingitis” from time to time. It’s like a disease that there’s no cure for, but if you take your medicine (ie, stay proactive in reaching out to prospects), it’s not deadly.

        Thanks for dropping by Kimberly. Always good to hear from you. 🙂

    3. I here that many people send out random emails to potential customers about his/her writing services. I do that as well. I heard somewhere that we’re not supposed to find emails and contact people unless we have thier permission. I recently signed up with Constant Contact to send out emails in bulk. Is this true? Is it wrong to contact companies and submit email inquries?

      • D:

        If you personalize the email, instead of sending out bulk “impersonal” emails, then you won’t have a problem (ie, the vast majority won’t accuse you of spam). When you use an email service provider like Constant Contact, unless a firm/person has signed up to your email list, it’s the exact same thing as “cold emailing” them. So the fact that you use a service is irrelevant (again, UNLESS the firm/person has subscribed to your list).

        I cold email all the time — but I personalize my emails by hunting down a name, where possible. And, I make it clear in my emails that I’ve visited the person’s site by referencing something on it, eg, “I noticed that you haven’t updated your blog since [insert date]. At New Media Words, we offer professional, affordable blogging services that can put your content needs on auto pilot.”

        See, this way, the person knows I’ve been to their site and am contacting them to help them solve a particular problem; NOT just sending random bulk emails.

        I hope this insight helps, and continued success with your freelance writing career.


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