Marketing Yourself: Scheduling Time

Taking the time to work on yourself pays off.

Illustration: Piya Willwerth

Why is marketing important?

I know I run the risk of stating the blindingly obvious here, but I'll also admit: I didn't fully understand it for a long time. And I'm not about to write the be-all, end-all solution to it, because marketing isn't a simple question-and-answer situation. It's a question which has multiple answers. It's an ongoing process, and it requires due attention and time.

The reason why marketing is so important is because, without marketing, you don't have a business. Without business, you don't have money. Without money, you can't support yourself. And supporting yourself is essential when starting a second career.

Marketing is the generous act of helping others become who they seek to become. It involves creating honest stories—stories that resonate and spread. Marketers offer solutions, opportunities for humans to solve their problems and move forward.

Seth Godin, This is Marketing

Lots of freelancers make the mistake of thinking of themselves as contractors or — gasp! — temporary employees, when really, they're business owners. Don't get me wrong — marketing isn't exactly fun for a lot of us. At least, a lot of what we think of marketing isn't. Spam lists, unsolicited phone calls, obnoxious commercials, pop-up ads ... none of it is cool. Which is why you need to schedule the time to figure out what does work.

If that means reading marketing books, then so be it. The point that I want to make here is that the time invested is the important part. It should be scheduled, expected, and budgeted for. You can call it "self-care" if you want — because that's exactly what it is.

Marketing is not just a question to be solved — it is a pattern to be established. It's a way of thinking, of spotting opportunities when they come up. The specifics differ from field to field, but here are two books to get you started:

Start by setting a few hours a week — at least — to examine your positioning, polish up your website, and update your portfolio.

  • Set up a mailing list
  • Work on personal projects that you can include in your portfolio
  • Touch base with clients you haven't spoken to in awhile and tell them you're available
  • Attend meetups related to your field
  • Interview someone
  • Improve on a new or existing skill

If you deliberately invest in yourself, you'll be better prepared, mentally, to present yourself as a professional.

Whenever you complete a task of any size or importance, you feel a surge of energy, enthusiasm, and self-esteem. The more important the complicated task, the happier, more confident, and more powerful you feel about yourself and your world.

The completion of an important task triggers the release of endorphins in your brain. These endorphins give you a natural "high." The endorphin rush that follows successful completion of any task makes you feel more positive, personable, creative, and confident.

Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog

It's easy to get discouraged by comparing yourself to others, but if you put in the work for yourself, those blue days will come less often.

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