One of the most persistent barriers to the success of self-employed professionals at marketing themselves is the “I don’t know how” problem. Here’s how it often goes.

I don't know

An expert or a colleague advises you to take some specific marketing action: “Collect all your leads in a contact management system” or “Write a white paper” or “Ask your website visitors to subscribe to your mailing list” or “Develop some referral partners.” You evaluate that idea, and decide it’s a good one. “Great,” you say, “that’s just what I’ll do.”

So, you sit down to get that thing done, and that’s when it hits you — you don’t really know how. Your sources made it sound easy, and maybe it is, for them. But you’ve never done it before, and aren’t even sure where to start. Sure, you could hire a consultant to help, take a class through your university extension program, or read a book, but what if you lack the money or the time? You need to get moving on marketing now and your financial resources are limited.

Here are five fast ways I frequently recommend to my clients and students to get their marketing projects completed, so they can start landing more clients.

1. Watch a YouTube video – Let’s say you need to manage your contacts, but don’t want to spend any money on doing it. In less than 60 seconds of searching, I found YouTube videos on how to set up a contact management system (CMS) on a spreadsheet, how to use Google Contacts as your CMS, and a survey of the best free CMS solutions. None of these videos was more than five minutes long.

2. Take an online class on Udemy – Suppose you want to write a white paper to educate your potential clients on the advantages that working with a professional like you can bring. Udemy currently has two classes on how to write a white paper that cost $10.99 each and take two hours or less.

3. Ask a professional colleague – Whatever you need to do in marketing, a colleague of yours has already done it. If you ask successful colleagues about how to gain referral partners, they’re likely to tell you about a blog post that explains exactly how to do it, a case study on referral-building specific to your industry, or even say, “I’m always looking for good people to refer to; let’s talk about what sort of clients you’re seeking.”

4. Post a query on Facebook or Twitter – Can’t think of anyone to ask? Ask everyone at once. Post to your Facebook or Twitter profile a question like “What’s a good, cheap way to manage contacts?” and within hours, you’ll hear from others how they’re doing it, what’s working for them, and what not to do. If you don’t have a lot of friends or followers, post your query on an appropriate Facebook group or in a relevant Twitter chat, and you’ll get plenty of helpful advice.

5. Hire someone on Fiverr or Upwork – What if you want to start building a mailing list from visitors to your website? A quick search on Fiverr produced a MailChimp expert who will set up your sign-up form, autoresponder, and ezine template for $50. Want to offer new subscribers an ebook in return for their email address? On Upwork, I found a pro who will format your content into a 20-page ebook for $100. Both these folks are top-rated by others who have hired them.

Don’t let your marketing get stalled by not knowing how to proceed. Help is out there, and it can be fast and affordable. Choose one of the five approaches above, and you’ll be on the path to getting more clients in no time.

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