When you’ve stepped away from a necessary routine after a long time – going to the gym, staying in touch with friends, regular household tasks – it can be somewhat intimidating to restart those rituals and get back into the habit of Getting Stuff Done. Take the gym, for example. Going to the gym is a chore for me (make the time to go there, walk or drive over, spend time working out, come home, clean up) that has some decent payoffs (uninterrupted Netflix on the phone while on the elliptical, stronger muscles, better sleep) but it’s easier to just let that routine fade out… until I miss my fun shows, lose muscle tone, and wonder why I’m waking up exhausted. Then, it’s remembering that I need to get to the gym to earn the shows, strength, and sleep, which translates to putting the work into getting to the gym.
Marketing and self-promotion are just like the gym habit for self-employed creatives. To keep the work queue full, we have to promote ourselves and our services to the people who are most likely to use those services. It takes constant work to build up that queue and maintain relationships with current clients. That means that marketing and promotion exercises need to happen on a near-daily basis. Without that maintenance, work slows to a trickle and sales slip below the acceptable threshhold. Worst of all, if you’re not promoting yourself and your work, you run the risk of being forgotten… and when people forget who you are and what you do, they forget to hire you for their projects.
You might notice that the last blog post was in the summer of 2019. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked steadily through the second half of 2019 and put out several audiobooks for new and established authors, but it’s time to get to the next level with my narration career. This requires a more consistent commitment to the business side of audiobook narration and creating a sustainable routine during the first quarter of 2020.
So, what does that look like?
For me, a sustainable marketing routine involves building small, repeatable steps into my daily and weekly schedule. The less time I spend answering the question of “What do I do next,” the more time I can focus on getting things done. To start the year, I began writing down everything that I did during the day to move my career forward. This was inspired by one of my coaches, Sean Pratt, who challenges his students to consider this every day in their journey to being a working actor. (Yes, audiobook narration is acting!) I used a soft-sided notebook with those nifty dots favored by bullet journal enthusiasts everywhere… and I started a list. Some days, the list of accomplishments is eight or nine items long. Other days, it’s only three or four… but it’s never empty. By holding myself to two or three items every day, including weekends, I’m building a habit of doing something, no matter how small, that moves my career forward.
To help build a more robust routine that includes marketing, I’ve started a twenty-eight day program demonstrated in C.J. Hayden’s book, “Get Clients Now!” The beauty of this particular book is that it considers those of us who are in business-to-business sales (audiobook narrators sell their narration and performance to the large and small business owners of audiobook publishers, small publishing groups, and independent authors) and the steps that we need to take to be successful. Given my current situation and challenges, I’m starting at the very beginning, establishing new contacts and creating a networking base to use throughout the year. This includes a revision and more active use of my website, meaning that there will be more regular blog posts. Short posts about new audiobook releases, longer posts about narration, and even a few posts related to what I’ve been reading for continuing education purposes. I’m also getting back into LinkedIn and utilizing that platform more regularly. Finally, I’m revising and updating my audiobook demos on ACX and my own website, as well as adding demos to new venues in an effort to spread the net wide for more work.
Clearly, the next twenty-eight days are going to be busy. At then end of it all, I’ll have a stronger website presence, new demos, and a better self-promotion routine to carry into the second quarter of 2020. That should translate to more work, more sales, and more progress as I start my third year of full-time audiobook narration.
If you’re a fellow self-employed creative, what kind of self-promotion do you do? What strategies have worked for you in the past, or what would you like to implement into your own routine? Let me know in the comments!