Marketing my business and ideas despite what the critics say

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.”
Theodore Roosevelt

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.

It’s not!

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:

  1. Completely re-brand myself
  2. Stop working so hard
  3. Learn design
  4. Focus on either being a just a writer or just a marketer so as not to confuse the issue
  5. Not to aim for small business, creative arts or startup because the revenue isn’t there
  6. Pack up and find a real job as freelance is about to disappear into the eBidding world
  7. Work through an agency
  8. Not work for free (well, in my case, barter)
  9. Stop ‘wasting time’ tweeting, reading and studying
  10. Get an office
  11. Dial down my personality in my blogs and website
  12. Choose less interesting photos
  13. Stop advocating for freelancers 
  14. Market my business in various and often completely contradictory ways
  15. Focus on SEO and forget about SEO (IKR?!)
  16. To not mention anything about my work in mental health literacy
  17. I’ve also been told that I have no idea and no business model (still here, people!)
  18. And I’ve also been accused of copying someone else’s idea even though I don’t even offer her idea as part of my services. I can’t even begin to explain the logic with that one

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.

In marketing my business, I’ve had:

  • My photo selection heckled
  • My website mocked
  • I’ve been blogged about as though I am the Medusa because I declined a guy from a Facebook group
  • Oh, and the guy who suggested I go kill myself over a deleted post in the aforesaid community. That was…special.

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
  • I study my butt off in marketing, copywriting, behaviour and psychology, community management 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 thru, conversions and social media response are getting higher all the time
  • I get the majority 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
  • I am accountable to myself, my family, my clients, my fellow community administrators and my freelance community. I don’t need to add random yahoos, busy bodies, angry competitors (or non-competitors), misogynists and mean guys to the mix


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 decade I’ve been freelancing. 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
  • The internet emboldens people in ways that make them prone to cruelty and hyperbole- but that’s on them

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!

Can you relate to the challenges I have marketing my business and getting stuff done? Get in touch– let’s work together!

9 Comments. Leave new

  • […] as I explained in climb out of my ear I’m doing stuff, with some people, it’s not in your best interests to listen to what they have to say. What they […]

  • You had me at “behooves” Bek *swoon*

    This post has made me wonder … I wonder if critics don’t tell me where I’m going wrong OR I’ve become so incredibly good at filtering them out that my brain just doesn’t hold their advice. I suspect it’s the later as I’ve heard one or two from your list.

    I’m thankful my ego is like a huffy teenager who doesn’t listen. ha!

    • I just recalled a conversation I had with copywriter trying to get her freelance business off the ground. Everyone around her (husband, family, friends) referred to her work as “her little thing on the side” or “the writing thing she was playing at” .. it went on. She was constantly asked when she was going to get a proper job.

      I wanted to punch them in the face on her behalf.

      If the people you’re closest to don’t believe in your awesome, it’s so much harder to stay confident.

    • Ha! Glad I could charm a charmer, Ms Weaver.

      There’s never any value in hanging with the herd when it comes to business. Most people misunderstand survival of the fittest. It isn’t the strongest or fastest, its the most diverse that prosper. By being a stand out, you increase your chance of survival.

      So it doesn’t matter if that diversity is encouraged by having a teen attitude, a hard head, or in my case, being fairly oblivious to other people around me.

  • Awesome post Bek, just what I needed to hear after being on the receiving end of some not so helpful ‘feedback’. Luckily, I’m not easily dented and recognised the feedback was directly related to the amount of information I’d received about the project (not very much) and that I’d actually done a great job on minimal information supplied. It is really hard to keep going when people question your rates, your form of expression, your working style (or your shoes in your case) but you know what pressure makes? Diamonds baby! Bugger the critics, every bit of pressure they apply is just going to make me shinier in the long term (and having people around like you who really get it just make me more determined to do it my own bloody way)!

  • Great post Bek, thanks for sharing.

    In the past 2 days 4 different people have asked a variation non “why don’t you do [the thing I just said I don’t do]”. Each time I’ve responded with “I don’t believe I am best suited for that type of work because [reasons]”, and each time I repeat it, I become a little but more confident in my convictions. All this unsolicited advice makes a tough job tougher, but I am glad I am developing verbal armour to protect myself from it.

    • Yep- it does take a little bit of repeat practise to get your mantra going. I always think of it as a wall. I am slowly building a wall that can withstand the sharp arrows and barbs of other people’s criticisms. And am building something that I can stand on to get a better perspective to go forward with, too.

      It takes time, but you get there, trust me!

      Thanks for commenting.


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