Recently, my husband and I decided that enough was enough.
The household chores were piling up every day and every week, and keeping the house clean was a mountain of work.
Finally, we just couldn't take it, and we fixed our problem once and for all by doing something very easy:
By creating a cleaning calendar.
I won't lie to you: the process was extremely time-consuming at first.
We had to sit down and list every single thing in our house that needed cleaning. Everything. Top to bottom, up and down, in and out.
Then we estimated how much time each task would take. This let us easily add tasks every day to a monthly calendar so that each of us would be doing about 30 minutes of housework every day.
Then put the calendar on our fridge, and once we're done a task, we check it off and mark down how much time it took us so that we can juggle things around if need be.
You know what happened?
We've never spent so little time cleaning, and our house has never been cleaner.
Marketing sucks, just like cleaning your house
I am someone who finds marketing a chore, exactly like housework.
I don't really mind marketing, but it is really not my favourite thing in the world.
I would much rather be doing other things. (Like translating! Or coaching translators!)
If you don't get your actual house in order, before you know it you're up to your eyeballs in laundry, dust, and dishes, and then you just can't function.
If you don't get your marketing house in order, your freelance translation business can't function either.
Let's solve this problem of putting together a marketing calendar so that you can transform your business and take it to the level you want.
Use your introversion superpowers to create your calendar
The goal to an effective calendar is to do all of your thinking ahead of time so that you set it and forget it.
Planning, setting and forgetting is a particularly effective way for introverted people to make progress in their marketing.
If you are thinking about every single step in your marketing as you do it, you'll get overwhelmed at every turn with all the decisions to make.
"Should I email this client or send a letter? What should I say? What kind of fonts should I use?"
Overthinking every step like this will slow your marketing down to a slow crawl of turtle-esque proportions.
But you can draw on your introversion to create a great calendar by thinking things through very carefully once and then never thinking of them again.
When you take time to plan first, you can think as long and hard as you want.
In fact, this stage may take you while, and you may get antsy that it is taking so long.
Forget about those ants and just accept that the process is long, but that this work you're doing will pay off with less thinking later.
Combine passive tactics with proactive tactics
A good marketing calendar has a range of marketing tactics, so you will have to be choosy as to which are best for you.
To help you choose, I've categorized them here into two types: passive and proactive.
Passive: These tactics help people find out about you, but you aren't actively talking about your services.
Posting content on social media
Posting in LinkedIn groups
Research project / white paper (creating a report that you can send to clients to introduce yourself)
Interviews (writing an article for a publication in your target industry)
Portfolio project (connecting with clients and asking to translate their text for free for your portfolio)
Proactive: These tactics are a more direct approach to let prospective clients know about your services.
Ideally, you will have about three or four marketing tactics that you either like or don't mind doing.
How to create your calendar
Creating a calendar has four steps:
When you follow this pattern, you expend all of your heavy mental energy in one go. Then, every other stop gets easier.
Let's look at each step more in-depth.
You should pick a tactic for some kind of a strategic reason: the tactic is easy for you to do, you can commit to it, or you hypothesize that the tactic will work with the clients you are targeting.
You will have to go through these steps for each one. So at first, I recommend picking either the easiest one for a quick win or the one that is most time-consuming to get it out of the way. Your choice!
Step 2: Break the tactic down into its component parts
Like a home-cooked meal, each marketing tactic has its own ingredients that have to be purchased and put together.
If you are sending out sales letters, do you need to design stationery or order business cards?
If you are making phone calls, do you have a basic script for how you want to introduce your services?
Make a list of every action you need to take, content you need to produce, or materials you need to order.
Step 3: Figure out how much time each part will take
Each component of your tactic (action, content, materials) will take a different amount of time to produce or execute.
You could write an email script in about 15 minutes, but it might take you a day or two (or more) to write a good letter.
Or, you might want to practice your phone skills on a few people before you call, and it could take a while to organize that process.
Carefully estimate how long you think each part will take you.
Step 4: Schedule each step in a planner
Once you have each tactic broken down and timed, you must schedule each one, preferably in small chunks that don't feel overwhelming.
A quick example to get you started
Let's say you want to reach out to prospective clients to introduce yourself and your services.
Step 1: You decide to send out letters, because you want to give people something concrete to have in their hands and you think that you will be memorable that way. You also don't like emailing or calling, so letters feel like less of an intrusion to you.
Steps 2 and 3: Your letter-writing campaign can be broken down into the following steps, with the time allotted next to each:
Compile a list of 100 prospective clients in an Excel sheet with a contact name and address: 3 to 5 hours
Determine what kind of goals these clients are going after in their businesses and note these down on the spreadsheet: 1 hour
Write a letter that speaks to these goals and how your translation service helps clients meet them: 1 hour to draft, 1 hour to edit and proofread
Buy stationery, envelopes, business cards, stamps and labels: 1 hour
Print your letters: 1 hour
Label your letters: 1 hour
Stuff the envelopes: 1 hour
Mail the letters: 10 minutes
Now you have a rough estimate of time, as the whole process will take you about 10 to 12 hours to complete. (And note that this is only the time estimate for your first campaign, as you will get faster and faster every time you do it.)
Step 4: Add each task above to your calendar.
For example, spend one hour a day for a week putting together a mailing list for your sales letter.
The next week, you could draft your sales letter for 30 minutes on a Monday, design and order your stationery for 1 hour on a Tuesday, then edit and proofread it for 1 hour on a Wednesday.
You could then set 3 hours on Thursday and Friday to print the letters and stuff the envelopes, and then take the weekend to finish up and mail out if you need some extra time.
And then write down how much time it took you so that you can improve your productivity the next time around.
Your calendar is business gold
Like you, I don't feel like I was put on this earth to promote myself. All I want to do is translate.
But I know that, like house cleaning, marketing tasks just won't go away, and they are necessary to keep my business on track.
When you use your thinking superpowers to plan your marketing calendar, you'll find these tasks get easier with time.
A step-by-step calendar shows you a start and end date. You know that the whole project won't take forever.
This will help you get faster and more efficient, and put your overthinking brain to rest once and for all.
And that, my dear translator, will transform your business like nothing else.