8 Easy Ways to Do Hard Things—Like Marketing Your Freelance Business

Doing things that we’re already good at make us feel good. But doing things that are uncomfortable—like marketing a freelance business—is frustrating and stressful. Learn 8 ways to overcome the practical and psychological hurdles to doing your marketing.

Doing hard things—like marketing your freelance business—is hard. We want to do things that we’re already good at, because they make us feel good. And doing things that are uncomfortable causes frustration, stress, and sometimes anxiety.

That’s probably why finding time for marketing is the #2 challenge, according to freelancers who took my 2021 survey on How Freelancers Market their Services.

But the real problem isn’t finding time for marketing. The real problem is that most of us  procrastinate about doing hard things—like marketing your freelance business.  Some freelancers do little or no marketing.

And this can be deadly to your freelance business. Because good marketing is crucial to getting the steady, high-paying clients you deserve and building a successful freelance business.

2 Things that Make Doing Hard Things Hard

Two things hold us back from doing hard things. One hurdle is practical and one is psychological.

If you’re like most freelancers, you never had a chance to learn about marketing. That’s not your fault. And if you’ve tried to learn about marketing, you’ve probably found that most of the advice and content isn’t relevant to a freelance business.

The Mighty Marketer makes it easy for you to learn how to market your freelance business, and overcome the practical hurdle to doing this.

Start with 10 Steps to Your Freelance Success: The Ultimate Guide.  The free guide shows you a proven step-by-step process for finding and attracting awesome, high-paying clients who need the help of talented freelancers. It has links to lots of posts from the Freelance Success Blog.

Also, read the Freelance Success Blog, which offers real-world, practical advice, a healthy dose of inspiration, and freelance success stories. Some posts include free checklists, templates, and other tools.

Do What’s Best, Not What Your Brain Wants to Do

It’s harder to overcome the psychological hurdle —what your brain wants to do— than the practical hurdle to doing hard things.

“Our brains tag effort as bad because it’s hard work,” says David Rock in “How to Convince Yourself to Do Hard Things.”

Also, our brains crave immediate reward. And it takes time to see the results of doing new things—like marketing a freelance business.

“Everyone experiences bouts of procrastination or work-avoidance, and the guilt that comes with them. There is no avoiding these experiences entirely, but there are some strategies that can help us stay focused,” says David Badre, author of On Task, in “Tips from neuroscience to keep you focused on hard tasks.

Once you understand what’s happening and have some concrete ways to work around what your brain wants to do, it will be easier to do hard things like marketing your freelance business. You can use these tips on doing hard things for marketing your freelance business, doing hard work for clients, and anything else in your professional or personal life.

8 Research-Backed Ways to Do Hard Things

1. Know That You CAN Get Better at Hard Things —Like Marketing

If you can answer “yes” to 2 questions, then you can become a better marketer.

  1. “Do you want to do better?”
  2. “Are you willing to feel the discomfort of putting in more effort and doing things differently?”

“Anyone can get better any anything,” says Peter Bregman, in “If You Want to Get Better at Something, Ask Yourself These Two Questions.” Bregman is a business coach who has worked with hundreds of leaders. He says that to get better, you need to:

  • Want to do better
  • Be willing to be uncomfortable and do something different
  • Wait for the results.

Learn more about how to get better at marketing

The Easy Way to Become a Better Marketer

2. Do Hard Things When You’re in a Good Mood

Don’t try to do hard things when you’re upset. Rock cites a 2016 study that found people are less likely to try to do hard things when they’re upset. “When they’re feeling upbeat, however, they’re more likely to take on the hard-but-essential tasks that ultimately make life better,” says Rock.

I know that it’s easier for me to do hard things when I’m in a good mood and have a lot of energy.

3. Challenge and Reward Yourself

Challenging and rewarding yourself will help you get past the brain’s natural tendency to do what’s easy, says Rock. For example, say to yourself:

“Do I want to work on my marketing and move closer to getting the steady, high-paying clients I deserve or do I want to compete against hundreds of freelancers for low-paying work on a freelance job site?”

After you work on your marketing, reward yourself. Go for a walk, have desert or a drink, or buy something you’ve been wanting for a while. The reward can be anything that makes you happy.

4. Use a Growth Mindset

When you start going back to your old ways of thinking and behaving, use a growth mindset to get back on track, says Rock.

If you have a growth mindset, you believe that you can change your freelance future by learning new things, being persistent, and taking the right actions—like marketing your freelance business. You’ll be willing to work hard to reach your goals. You’re much more likely to face challenges head-on and overcome them.

But if you have a fixed mindset, you believe that your future is set in stone. And you may believe that you shouldn’t have to work hard to succeed as a freelancer. Since doing better is beyond your control and you expect success to come to you without effort, you’ll give up.

Learn more about the growth mindset

4 Easy Ways for Freelancers to Develop the Growth Mindset

5. Create Time for Hard Things

“Set aside large blocks of time,” and “be consistent,” says Badre. If you wait until you have time for marketing, you’ll never have time for marketing. “We should try to reserve a consistent time and place for our hard work and be protective of it,” he says.

Put marketing on your calendar just like you put a meeting with a client or a deadline. And then do it!

It doesn’t matter if you don’t make progress, says Badre. Just doing your marketing helps you build the marketing habit (#8).  This makes it easier to continue to do your marketing.

Depending on the marketing actions you’re working on, set aside 2 to 4 hours (2 hours, for example, to work on direct emails and 4 hours to work on something more complex like your website content or your year-end review). Choose times when you won’t have to deal with last minute requests from clients, like evenings or weekends. Friday afternoon is a good time to work on marketing too.

We need a large block of time, says Badre, “because of the intense thought and work required by hard tasks. . . Switching frequently between tasks makes producing quality work harder.”

 6. Minimize Distractions

Don’t multitask, because it reduces your efficiency and the quality of your work, says Badre. Make it easier to do hard things by minimizing distractions. Turn off notifications for email and social media. Turn off your email and your cell phone. Tell family members or other people you live with not to disturb you between certain hours unless it’s an emergency.

“As much as possible, we should keep our space and time for hard work clear of other distracting tasks,” says Badre.

 7. Take Breaks from Hard Things

While you do need to sit down and get your marketing done, you’ll be more productive if you take breaks. “It is important to take breaks from difficult work,” says Badre.

When you’re sitting at your desk, you’ll probably feel pressure to do your marketing right. But if you’re doing something creative, like working on key marketing messages, your LinkedIn profile, or your website content, things don’t always go well.

Taking a short break can help you solve a problem and do better marketing. Go for a 10-minute talk. Do some yoga or meditation. Take a shower. When you’re not working, and not doing anything you need to think about, your brain is free to think of better marketing messages or whatever you’re working on. You’ll come back to your desk refreshed and with good ideas.

8. Build the Marketing Habit

All of these things will help you do more marketing and build the marketing habit. And making marketing a habit makes it much easier to keep doing your marketing.

The right habit-building strategies will also help you build a marketing habit that sticks.

James Clear, best-selling author of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones offers this 5-step process for building good habits:

  1. Start with an incredibly small habit.
  2. Increase your habit in very small ways.
  3. As you build habits, break them into chunks.
  4. When you slip, get back on track.
  5. Be patient. Stick to a pace you can sustain.

Clear and Daniel H. Pink both talk about working on your habit at the right time of day for you.

“One of the secrets to sticking with a habit is asking yourself to act at the right time,” says Clear.

“We are smarter, faster, and more creative in some parts of the day than others,” says Pink, bestselling author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing and other books. He also says that the difference between our best and worst part of the day can be huge. And at certain times of day, we’re better at some things than others.

Pink divides the day into three parts:

  • Peak (morning and late morning):
    • Best focus
  • Trough (afternoon):
    • Less energy and alertness
  • Rebound (late afternoon and early evening)
    • Most creative

Learn more about simple ways to build the marketing habit

How to Make Marketing as Easy as Tying Your Shoes

Do Your Marketing

Now you know how to do hard things—like marketing your freelance business.

Use free Mighty Marketer content like 10 Steps to Your Freelance Success: The Ultimate Guide and the Freelance Success Blog to learn more about marketing on your own.

Get Results Faster

If you want to start getting the clients you deserve faster or need more help, check out my 7-week online course, Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve. Available with coaching or as self-study, my online course has helped hundreds of freelancers grow their freelance businesses.

Ready to Become the Freelance Success You Were Meant to Be?

Get on the VIP list for early access to the course.

Email themightymarketer@comcast.net and type VIP List in subject.

Learn More About Doing Hard Things

Content from The Mighty Marketer

FREE TOOL: 10 Steps to Your Freelance Success: The Ultimate Guide

How Freelancers Market their Services 2021 Survey: Results Report

7 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Start Getting the Clients You Deserve

The Easy Way to Become a Better Marketer

How to Make Marketing as Easy as Tying Your Shoes

Other Content

David Rock, “How to Convince Yourself to Do Hard Things,” Harvard Business Review.

David Badre, “Tips from neuroscience to keep you focused on hard tasks,” Nature.

David Badre, “On Task: How Our Brain Gets Things Done.”