Don’t Panic! Learn to Market Yourself.

So I had an okay 2013. Didn’t do worse than 2012, but that’s not exactly an inspiring achievement. Plus, the end of the year was pretty slow. Scary slow. So it gave me plenty of time to think about what I am doing and how I am doing it.

The majority of my clients are academic researchers and institutions. So I wondered if the slowdown in my workload is a sign that the drop in federal research funding has finally trickled down to me? Or is this just a typical down period in the cycle and there’s no need to panic? Not sure.

Either way, I think I have to come to terms with the fact that I need to market myself more actively and find new clients. For too long, I’ve been relying on passive marketing through my website, blog, LinkedIn, and listings on sites like AMWA and EFA. And I think it’s given me a false sense of security.

So I started with my current clients. I designed and sent a New Year’s card, just as a subtle reminder that I’m out here, if they need me. Still pretty passive though. But it is what it is.

I plowed through Rich Adin’s (An American Editor) The Business of Editing and I bought and devoured Elizabeth Fricke’s excellent book A Freelancer’s Guide to Business Success in Any Economy. I considered the possibility of trying to join existing editorial groups, rather than continuing as a solopreneur. I considered the possibility of branching out into copyediting. I joined the Professional Editors Network (PEN), the American Copy Editors Society (ACES), and to access their resources and network.  I set up coffee dates with local colleagues to discuss my options.

I also spent some quality time on LinkedIn, updating my profile, reaching out to potential new contacts, soliciting recommendations, and asking more pointed questions about possible opportunities. I searched through job postings just to get a feel for places that might use the services of a medical writer/editor.

Probably most importantly, I revisited my business plan for a long overdue update, particularly the marketing portion. This year, my marketing plan will include getting more involved as a volunteer and investing in a trip to the AMWA annual conference in October.

What am I NOT going to do? Dwell on the low points of last year. Take things personally. Panic. Not going to do any of that. Or at least try not to do any of that.


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