Marketing my business on my terms shouldn’t be that difficult. And yet, the critics are often out in force. Yet I am reminded of these great words:
“It behooves every man to remember that the work of the critic, is of altogether secondary importance, and that, in the end, progress is accomplished by the man who does things.”
Apart from a terribly delicious word such as ‘behooves’ getting airplay, good old Teddie is bang on the money.
It never ceases to amaze me how many people feel it necessary to hack at the shins of the people who are just doing their thing. It’s as though the knockers feel answering critics is as important as the work getting done.
I’ve seen positively driven and hard working clients questioned at every turn and told they apparently could have done something a ‘better’ way. Such well meaning but usually shallow advice can take a toll on confidence over time. It really isn’t very nice to see.
I’m not immune either. Quite the contrary, critics love trying to have an audience with me. How I present myself, how I go about marketing my business and even the clients I choose have all copped scrutiny.
As a freelancer I’ve been told to:
- Completely re-brand myself
- Stop working so hard
- Learn design
- Focus on either being a just a writer or just a marketer so as not to confuse the issue
- Not to aim for small business, creative arts or startup because the revenue isn’t there
- Pack up and find a real job as freelance is about to disappear into the eBidding world
- Work through an agency
- Not work for free (well, in my case, barter)
- Stop ‘wasting time’ tweeting, reading and studying
- Get an office
- Dial down my personality in my blogs and website
- Choose less interesting photos
- Take my dog off my website
- Stop doing research studies unless people pay me
- Market my business in various and often completely contradictory ways
- Focus on SEO and forget about entire content plans
- Up my rates, get rid of retainers and stop being so transparent about what I charge
Even my policy of being truthful with clients and helping them avoid common mistakes by sharing my opinion has come under fire. And don’t get me started on the comments I have had about my dress sense, my shoes(?!), my logo and website category choices.
Marketing my business I have had my photo selection heckled, my web template mocked and my writing style called unprofessional.
If I didn’t have a hide like an elephant I would have packed up long ago.
It’s not that I am not interested in sound advice because I am. The truth of the matter is most of the advice either isn’t sound or simply doesn’t add anything to what I am trying to achieve.
I’ve stopped answering critics and have kept on truckin’ because:
- I work at my business because it gives me satisfaction
- Each week I average 20 hours a week dedicated self education in marketing, copywriting, behavioural psychology and/or business because I love learning about my chosen industry
- I rarely walk away from a project thinking “well, that was horrible”- I doubt many of my critics can say the same
- I have a huge library of content people use and my click throughs, conversions and social media response are getting higher all the time
- I’ve never paid to advertise myself and get all of my work through either word of mouth or because someone admires my style and philosophy and gets in touch
- I’m super proud of some of the awesome projects I have been part of
- It’s a great feeling helping someone make their startup, creative or small business dream come true
- I’m eating, building a portfolio I like and not sacrificing who I am to do that
- Marketing my business is still fun and on my terms
Bottom line: I’m living my dream and I’m OK with some people not getting that
I didn’t set out to be the most booked freelancer in town or to have the best ranking on Google. Charging the big bickies and working with brands that are big but soulless doesn’t interest me. I couldn’t careless about beating someone else’s revenue targets or being on the latest sassy business magazine cover.
I don’t want to do ‘what everyone else does’ because I’m not everyone else, I’m me.
My aim from the very beginning was to prove being truthful to your customers and creative in your approach does a hell of a lot more for your marketing than playing it safe or doing it ‘just because’. Of course people feel the need to correct me but more often than not it’s because my approach wouldn’t be the way they’d go about things. That doesn’t mean I am wrong and they are right.
Marketing my business and plying my trade is up to me. I have to live with the consequences when I don’t have any clients or have any money.
Spoiler alert: That hasn’t happened in the 6 years of freelanced. Turns out I may know a thing or two about marketing my business and plying my trade after all!
For anyone else being hammered by the critics:
- Allowing everyone else to chime in and influence what you do without considering just how relevant it is to your goals and endeavours is for people who don’t know what they want. Stay strong!
- Being a leader to 5 people is better than being faceless in a pack of 5000
- Just because what you are doing doesn’t make sense to someone else doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense
- It’s easy to review and much harder to do!
- People want to measure you by their version of success. That doesn’t mean it’s the same as yours
If you ever feel like having a whinge at what the critics want you to do, feel free to scrawl on this wall.
Let’s bust the 5 minute experts down, shake them out of our ears and get on with the job at hand!