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Marketing can be learned

Are you intimidated about marketing as a creative freelancer? In this article Dr Steven Sparling gives you a practical and sensible way to approach it
Large white room with big windows covering 1 of the walls. The room has wooden flooring and 6 tables covered in various textiles equipment. On the walls there are mood boards and coloured fabric pinned on up.
© Kingston University

Some people are really intimidated by marketing. Often marketing people make it sound really complicated, with lots of moving pieces and data to track.

It’s true that if you are doing marketing for a large company, that it really does become a science. That’s because even a 1% increase in traction or increase in sales leads can make a massive difference when dealing with hundreds of millions of dollars.

But you’re not looking to run that kind of business. You are a freelancer. A business of one. You don’t need marketing with all the bells and whistles because you don’t need 1,000 business leads a week – you could never handle them and couldn’t accommodate that much work anyway. Therefore, your marketing can be simpler, more small scale.

But that’s actually a good thing!

Small scale also means bespoke and personable, which when you are selling your own services is a great way to approach it.

So whatever negative feelings you might have about marketing, I’m going to ask you to file them away in the ‘read later’ file and keep an open mind this week as we discuss how you can find clients for your freelance business.

Marketing can be learned, just like any other skill can be learned. You gain some basic ideas about marketing and then you practice it. You will very likely make some mistakes in marketing, and that’s okay – every small business (and many large businesses) make lots of mistakes with their marketing. The key is to learn from the mistake.

Marketing is an iterative activity. It isn’t a ‘one and done’ task – ie. you don’t set up your website and then your marketing work is done. Marketing is something you do every day, every week as you go about your business.

Often freelancers conceive that they do their business (maybe make jewelry) and then marketing is something they do on the side when they have time or inspiration.

You need to start thinking that marketing is something that is present at all times. As you go about your business, you build the marketing in – so with the example of our jewelry maker it maybe means doing a live-stream sometime on Facebook where you demonstrate how you make a certain type of jewelry, or take photos every 30 minutes as you build something to create a stop-gap video that shows the process, or when you break for a coffee mid-morning, you grab your phone and post a picture of what you’re working on to your Instagram platform. In this way, your marketing becomes part of the flow of your daily work.

Think of marketing as a dialogue between you and your customers. That dialogue never really stops. It might ebb and flow, as dialogue naturally does, but it has neither a start nor finish to it.

This week we are going to talk about ways to market your business and connect with customers.

You don’t need to do ALL of the ideas we are going to discuss – in fact, you shouldn’t try to do all of it.

Instead, find 2 or 3 ideas that resonate with you and try them out. Give yourself a small task to do. Do it. Repeat again. By doing it repeatedly, you will figure out what’s working with it and what isn’t.

If you’re stuck, you can learn how to do just about anything through either a search on Google or YouTube (there’s a video for just about anything). In this way, you can build your knowledge as you need it.

But for now, I want you to take away two ideas: every small business needs to market if they want to find customers and stay in business; and marketing is an iterative process that can be learned.

I’ll break this down further over the next steps.

© Kingston University
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