I often write for companies in the medical realm, where the term “pipeline” is all-important. Companies focus on the here and now, selling their products and increasing brand awareness and loyalty, all for the goal of making profit. But they also keep an eye on the future. They invest much time and money in creating the next product, the next big thing that will support the company and increase profits. They focus on the pipeline of new, business-building and sustaining products and activities, and therefore find success
The “pipeline” is also an important concept for freelancers. We may have full calendars now and in the weeks to come, but we can never stop planning for the future. We must ensure a continual flow of assignment and projects.
I just finished up a crazy week of multiple deadlines, sneaking right under the wire with the last one. I’d really like to take a break right now. But the problem is this – the pipeline is looking a little weak. I committed the ultimate freelancing sin – I sacrificed time from my daily schedule usually devoted to marketing so that I could make those multiple deadlines. So no matter that I’m a little burned out, and no matter that J and I are frantically prepping for a move next week, I gotta double-time it and line up some more work.
That’s one of the biggest adjustments people must make when they move to independent work. At your regular 9 to 5 you could count on one aggravating, mind-blowing, frustratingly constant thing – the work was always there. No need to go trolling the halls asking your peers for more to do (and if you did have extra time, the interwebs awaited). With independent work, with that constant that we continually bitched about removed, we sort of want it back. Because now we have to hustle and flow, make our own rain and pay our bills through sheer miracles.
Lesson learned, and lesson shared: always mind the pipeline. No matter if you’re busy, make time for consistent marketing, even just a little bit each day. I know it’s paid off for me in the past; it will again in the future. Poor planning and neglecting marketing, on the other hand, gets you where I am: mighty stressed.
By the way: tune in each Wednesday for ideas on how to fill your daily marketing time.