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As freelancers, nailing down your marketing is crucial for attracting clients and growing your business. But where do you start? And how detailed does your plan really need to be?
In this episode of Freelance to Founder, Thomassina asks us where to start when it comes to your freelance marketing strategy.
Here are our key takeaways on keeping marketing plans simple yet effective:
Key Takeaways from this Episode:
- Focus on taking action over creating long, complex marketing plans. Planning will never bring you clients. Executing on a plan will.
- Start with just 1-2 marketing channels and optimize them before expanding. You don’t have to “be everywhere.”
- Track performance data like leads and revenue from day one. Then lean into what’s working.
Focus on the Execution, Not the Planning
Too often, we get stuck in analysis paralysis, spending weeks researching and planning the “perfect” marketing strategy on paper. But remember—the value comes from taking action, not from the plan itself.
As Preston discussed, in his 9-5 corporate marketing roles, the plans were essentially glorified to-do lists. The brainstorming and ideation was useful, but only to generate tasks to execute. No need to complicate things further.
So don’t let planning stop you from doing. Start marketing yourself right away, and adapt as you learn.
Use Phases as a Framework
While a 30-page marketing blueprint isn’t necessary, having some structure to your plan can be helpful.
Clay shared his simple 5-phase approach:
1. Foundations (branding, offers, etc)
2. Sales Sprint
3. Automated Nurturing System
4. Lead Gen Campaigns
5. Evergreen Platforms (SEO, social media)
This provides an elegant high-level framework—not a rigid set of requirements. Focus first on nailing the basics before trying paid advertising or social media.
Tackle One Channel at a Time
When you’re new to marketing, it’s tempting to spin your wheels dabbling across every platform. But that scattershot approach rarely brings results.
Instead of jumping to Facebook, Google, Instagram and TikTok all at once, we recommend picking just one or two channels and going deep. Learn the nuances, optimize your approach, and only expand once you see success.
For example, Clay shared how he focused solely on SEO in the early days of his web design agency. Once he refined his SEO system, he had a solid lead generation engine.
Resist the urge to do everything at once—establish one effective channel first.
Track What’s Working
How do you know what’s working if you don’t track it? This is why Clay’s early marketing plans were basically just spreadsheets.
He diligently tracked key metrics like:
- Leads generated per strategy
- Lead-to-customer conversion rates
- Revenue per strategy
Crunching these numbers allows you to double down on what’s most effective and prune what isn’t producing.
Spare yourself wasted time and money by tracking marketing performance from day one.
Optimize for Emotion
We’ve found marketing success stems from tapping into human emotions, not just logic.
As Preston explained, different marketing channels evoke different emotions. Social media grabs attention for instance, while emails and long-form content build trust and confidence over time.
Understand the emotional impact you want, and choose channels accordingly. This more psychological approach can elevate your results.
Overcome Analysis Paralysis
As Clay noted, the main reason 50-page marketing plans even exist is to give students busywork, not because they work well. Don’t fall into that academic trap.
Especially when starting out, take the 80/20 approach. Get clear on your target audience, offer and desired emotion first. Then just try stuff and track it. Adapt quickly based on data.
You can create more elaborate plans down the road. But focus on simple execution first and foremost. Refine as you go.
Marketing plans certainly play an important role, but resist over-engineering them. Stay nimble, track results maniacally, and continue testing new ideas. If a channel isn’t performing, be ready to shift gears quickly.
Consistency and actually doing the work trumps an elaborate theoretical plan every time.
Hopefully these tips will help you create marketing plans that strike the right balance between strategic direction and simplicity. Just remember—the value comes from taking action.
So get out there, start marketing yourself, and see what resonates with your audience. Keep iterating and improving. Before you know it, you’ll have an effective growth engine that keeps the clients rolling in!
This transcript was auto-generated and may have grammatical errors.
Hello and welcome back to another q and a episode of freelance to founder as you know we do these q and a episodes on Tuesdays and then this Thursday and most Thursdays we have a coaching call with a freelancer like you if you’d like to come on the show visit freelancetufounder dot com and scroll to the bottom of the page. Love to have you join us and if you just have 1 simple question to ask. We’d love to have you submit a question at freelance tofounder.com/ask I’m Preston Lee with millo.co and joining me on the air today is my good friend. Clay Mosley from getdripify.com hey Clay um, not a lot. Not a lot we um.
Yeah, what’s up man or.
Secret We batch record these So we’re just cranking out a few shorts ah shorts ah shorts. They’re called Q and a episodes is what we’re calling them now. Um.
Yeah I’m trying to come up with a create more creative ways to say hello. Ah.
Ah, yeah I should I should just play along and be like oh you know it’s sunny today. Beautiful weather out here. But anyway it’s nice to chat with you again after a thirty second break between the last last q and a we did.
Right? I’m butchering this intro. Let’s go to the question so we’ve got a question today from thomassina and I thought that we would especially enjoy this one given our backgrounds you’ll see what I mean here. So thomasina asks is there a template that you know of or somewhere that helps with creating a marketing plan online. She wants to pin down. Ah ah, the look and feel of her brand and build a marketing plan. So Thomasina I wasn’t able to see what kind of freelancer she is ah you know what kind of work she does. But I think you know the answer I think could probably work for most kinds of Freelancer. So the question is like.
How do I build a marketing plan where can I create a marketing plan online or how do I get started with a marketing plan which I think is a really smart question. A lot of people just like sort of flail their arms around and go like should I be on Tiktok should I should I do Seo should i.
Pay for ads. She’s saying like oh where do I actually make a plan. Do you have any suggestions for.
Ah, yeah, ah yeah I’m laughing because I’m laughing because there’s there’s I can go on off ah on ah on a ah tangent here I The short answer is yes.
What’s so funny.
There’s tons of marketing plans out there now. The question is is like is it worth a crap. Um in my opinion 99% of them are not now I um, you know there’s tons of people that will debate with me of course which is fine. Um I have my opinion. Ah, and.
Ah, decade of experience and selling 2 different agencies so you could take that for what it’s worth. Um, yeah, you need to have a plan I there’s there’s um, the way I do it and I haven’t seen this out there.
Is just kind of thirty Thousand foot views you need to do marketing in 5 different phases and phase one is and I’ll just kind of give a quick rundown phase one is foundations like it’s all the things you need to do that set you up for success. So it’s things like. You got to lock in your branding you got to lock in your offers right? like you got to you got to get the most fundamental things right? Um number two is what I call sales like a sales sprint It’s not really part of marketing but it’s just if I had to sum it up but like it’s a way for you to. Patch a leaky bucket so to speak so you can do all the kind of all kinds of marketing in the world that could work. But if you have holes in your system where like when someone hops on as a new client but then they’re not really happy after x amount of time like that’s what I call a leaky bucket.
So ah, yeah.
You know you got to patch those holes make sure you actually retain clients and things like that. So like that’s that’s where and also sales like a salesman that’s like trying to identify these really quick ways like really easy quick ways that you can find new clients versus doing a big.
That’s so smart. Yeah, it.
Ad campaign like because I see that all the time people like they say I need to get new clients and then the first thing they go I need to hire somebody for Facebook ads or Google ads and I’m like there are other ways you can get new clients that doesn’t involve. It’s not that involved. Um.
So just real quick number 3 is what what I call I call an autopilot system. It’s essentially a really really fancy nurturing system like marketing system where it creates urgency but also like scarcity and. Um, nurtures your prospects and if you do it right? It’s automated. Um, and I won’t go into detail there but like that is super crucial for you to have because so many people they focus on getting leads getting new clients. But what they. Don’t realize is that 97% of like your target audience or they’re not in a buying mode right now they’re not and so people try to go after the 3% who are in a buying mode but the problem is is that so is everybody else. And so what about the other 97% if you can figure out how to capture their information and nurture them for a like six months to a year on autopilot like you’re going to. You’re going to get them get their business eventually and so like that’s super crucial that ninety in my opinion 99% of businesses don’t have in place.
Yeah I do like though the other day you you shared this post about ah about like don’t wait till the end of that six or twelve months to make your offering known because there is going to be that percentage of people right? who who who do just are. They’re ready to purchase but I think what I love about what you’re saying is like yes.
And then what.
Talk to those people in a smart way so they can purchase if they’re ready but also talk to them in a way where if they’re not ready. You can nurture that relationship for 3 6 twelve months depending on your business model.
I Yeah, I’m a big fan of making the offer right up front because you again if they’re the 3% of people. Great. They’re gonna take action. Um, even outside of those 3 that 3% that other 97% even though they’re not actively looking. If you do your marketing in a way and you make the offer upfront some of those people are still going to buy and what I like about it is is like if you capture their information in the right way they download some sort of lead magnet or a webinar or something their excitement is at its highest level.
And so like every marketer out there will say you know capture the lead and then nurture them for like a week or two weeks or whatever and then make your pitch at the end I’m like no because the excitement is like at its lowest so make the pitch at the front and if they don’t buy it. That’s okay.
Then you start nurturing them right? And then you do this over and over and over again.
Um, yeah, and and what you’ve ah what you’ve talked about a lot in marketing and I subscribe to this as well is the idea of that that sales quite often happen due to emotion and so what I’m hearing here is there’s 2 different kinds of emotion. There’s.
There’s like excitement and the thrill like maybe they first discover you or your product and they’re just like I got to have this problem solved. They look like the perfect person to do it I’m going to hire them boom you’ve got a sale so there’s excitement and energy that’s sort of 1 emotion.
But then people who don’t have that emotion who aren’t super excited or super energetic about it who don’t want to pull the trigger right now you have to find another way to build an emotion up and I think I think that emotion is like confidence Trust Ah, um, security and so like that happens over time.
So as you send them things via email or post on social or whatever you’re building up this relationship over time and then one day when they are ready to purchase. They don’t need that thrill. They need like someone to help them. Someone. They trust someone they can have confidence in. And then they turn to you because you’ve been building that relationship.
Um, yeah, exactly and and a lot of people think that social media fits in this category and it in my opinion does not. It does not because.
Social media is you’re trying to gain trust in like 60 seconds or less. You know what I mean ah, it’s nearly impossible to do and social media is meant to just.
Gain Somebody’s curiosity and then you gain the emotional string right? after that which is done through like email marketing or or text message marketing mostly email um and long form video. That’s how you do that. Um, but social media is not and it’s not in the autopilot system like that’s not the phase that it’s in. So yeah, so the phase 3 is almost all email. Um, there’s some other things involved but it’s almost all email. Um, and then there’s 4 and 5 number 4 phase 4 is lead generation.
Oh interesting. Okay.
So that’s like running ad campaigns to just obtain a lead and number 5 is your evergreen systems and really, that’s social media and Seo evergreen is like you do the work. It takes a long time to get benefit but man once you get benefit.
It stacks and it’s evergreen. Um, the issue is is that people do it backwards they like even even agencies and marketers they focus on phases 4 and 5 when phases 1 through 3 are completely ignored. So. That’s my marketing plan. You know, ah, you know you can go and Google marketing plans out there. You’re going to find some like I don’t know something from a university that you have to turn in it’s like 50 pages long.
I yeah I think that that would be my advice is like steer clear of a 20 page marketing plan. You don’t you don’t need that like so I went to school for marketing I’ve been through the classes Clay’s talking about and and yeah, it’s like page 1 or like more like page 1 through 5 your target audience and you build these avatars and you it’s like so elaborate? Yeah, yeah, yes, all all of that right? and it’s just like so complicated and I think um.
While some of that can be helpful if you’re really unclear on who your audience is or or you know what your strengths and weaknesses are or what you offer your client I think in most cases people have a pretty good idea of that and um and if they don’t that should be done in you know. 15 minutes not like two hours filling out all these worksheets and things for me a marketing plan should be 1 page maybe 2 um and something you can reference and and just say like how am I doing generally on. You know these few things for me, especially if you’re doing your own marketing as a freelancer.
If You’re not like handing this off to someone else to execute on you have to execute on it yourself. It has to be simple and I’ve said on this show before it has to be like where the the 3 things converge right? What you’re good at what brings results and what you enjoy and um, if if you can’t. Find a convergence between those 3 things your marketing is not going to work anyway and so for me, it’s all about keeping it simple and I love the phases that you brought up I feel like that’s a way a way more advanced tactic. So like you you could go I’m maybe oversimplifying or you could go with an advanced 5 ive-phase tactic. But um.
Depending on where your business is at right because I think if you’re like brand new to freelancing I think just like throw some stuff against the wall and see what sticks in terms of marketing. Um, and then once once those initial like referrals and and first few clients kind of start to dry up then you have to sit down and go okay, what am I going to do to. Gather leads nurture leads run stuff on autopilot like what am I actually going to do to continue to market to my potential audience.
Yeah, for the longest time my my marketing plan was a spreadsheet to be quite like if you want to talk about simple all I did was have I had like 8 to 10 different strategies slash tactics.
And I just kept track of how many leads came from each one. How many of those leads can turn into prospects how many prospects turned into clients and how much revenue came from each one and that’s what I did and then I I would shift focus according to what’s working better.
Yup I mean I I work professionally as a marketer like 9 to 5 job corporate setting and that’s what we did it was it was basically like a glorified to-do list. We’d sit in a room. We’d brainstorm all these ideas we’d from that we’d pick out the best ideas.
I That’s my that was my marketing plan.
From that I’d convert it essentially to a fancy to do list and then I’d just knock them out Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom Some of them were date specific. Some just I had to go collaborate with someone or something.
And you just would knock them out and then once your marketing plan is checked off you either create a new one for the next product or for the next phase of your work or for a new target audience or something or you just erase the checkmarks and start over to get more clients like I I Just think we sometimes overcomplicate it. Um, you know.
Ah, particularly like you said universities who you have to devote you know three weeks of your course to the marketing plan is like is it really is that really needed or yeah, that’s what I’m saying yeah I think it’s.
I think I think it’s an excuse I think it’s an excuse for them to like give the student something to do all semester.
I have I have never once in my life made as complicated a marketing plan as I had to in school like no one in the real world makes them like you make them in school because in the real world like the planning is not the thing. The executing is the thing.
Yeah I can only think of 1 example is if you need to get a business loan because bankers for whatever freaking reason they want a university style business plan.
Yeah, that’s true. They want all that but I would say that’s more for a business plan than a marketing plan right? Um co yeah yeah, inside of it. It’s true. Yeah.
Well yeah, that’s true, but they want to they want a marketing plan inside the business plan. Yeah.
Absolutely true, but just for like executing within your own business. A simple 1 or 2 page business plan. It can have these phases clays gone through you just have like some simple bullet point tasks that you carry out and then it can get more. You can add more and it can get more complicated as you go but don’t don’t like. Don’t like not market and not promote yourself because you don’t have a plan yet right? Keep it simple and then get to the executing and tracking I think for me, that’s the the key part too is like what’s working of all this plan that I made up maybe only 10% of it works. Well I’m going to scratch the rest and then I’m going to really lean into this 10% and make more plans. Based on on those on that 10%. So hopefully I don’t know hopefully that’s helpful anything last to add there. Clay. Okay Thomasina I know you asked for a template or or somewhere to make a marketing plan online. Our recommendation is use.
And it’s better. It.
Google docs google sheets whatever you like to use and just make keep it simple for now and then add to it as you go. So hopefully that’s helpful I’ve been Preston with Millo.co clay from GetDripify.com thank you so much man for joining today. Really appreciate it. We’ll talk to you guys next time.
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