People who know me or have followed me for a while probably already know that while I love editing, and I love working at home, I hate hate hate the marketing that is a vital part of running a business. Loathe and detest it with the fire of a thousand suns.
Or at least, for a long time, I thought I did. When I stopped to think about the ways in which work finds its way to me, I realised that perhaps I had actually been doing more marketing than I thought, but it was just so enjoyable I hadn’t really noticed.
Because here’s the thing – work does often find its way to me. I mean, I’ve done a few rounds of cold emailing publishers and packagers, and I answer Facebook posts looking for editors every now and again, but most of my work has come through referrals, or people stumbling across me on Facebook or Twitter. This hasn’t always happened as often as I’d like, and I know that I need to do an awful lot more work on actively marketing my business. But I’m clearly not totally invisible, so I must be doing something.
I’ve written about this before, but my approach to marketing has basically been to be me. When I first started my business, I knew I couldn’t compete on experience with the people who’ve been working in publishing since I was a baby, or have worked in top New York publishing houses on global bestsellers. So I decided not to try. So much of a successful editing relationship is about the fit between two personalities, so I decided the best thing I could do was try to show as many people as possible what my personality is.
I make a lot of jokes about Facebook and Twitter being part of my strategy, but it is actually true. I’ve spent many, many hours hanging out in groups of writers and editors, learning, taking in the knowledge, and trying to be helpful when I can. It’s been so much fun, and has had the added bonus of making me part of the community. People remember me, and people can’t point work your way if they don’t remember you.
It also helps to find a niche. Mine happens to be swearing, so much so that people tag or mention me in almost every conversation about it in the Facebook groups I’m in. Sometimes I do wonder if that’s all people think I’m capable of, but if they do, they can fuck off. And at least they’re thinking something about me, right?
This blog supports my “personal branding” approach too – content marketing wisdom says that blogging should be about increasing your visibility to potential clients, so you can answer their questions and they can find you. Some of my posts, such as my recent self-editing series, are aimed at that, but not all, and that’s not my blog’s primary function. It’s about showing people who I am, reminding people I’m here, and entertaining and reassuring my colleagues, particularly those who are on a similar journey to me (that’s the idea, anyway. Not sure it is always quite as hilarious and wise as I naturally am AT ALL TIMES). Maybe this approach isn’t all that great for SEO, but that doesn’t mean there’s no value in it.
I don’t want anyone to think the reason I connect with people is pure cynical strategy. It’s not (and I think anyone who saw the Great Twitter Cake War understands this. Cake is far more serious a matter than mere business strategy). I love getting to know people. It is its own reward. I like to be part of a community, so I don’t feel isolated, so I have people to turn to for advice, and so I can provide that for other people. But, if you do all that with sincerity, it will, most probably, lead to opportunities. And being sincere is the key. If you approach social networking with a pure strategy brain, it will backfire. People will see through you. But if you are honest, and helpful, and supportive, and kind (except to people who believe in the superiority of fruit cake), and YOURSELF, you begin, quite organically, to build a brand that people remember. Even if it’s “that one who swears a lot”.