The research we conducted in the spring of 2023 aimed to identify the most pressing struggles faced by freelancing creatives who work with eco-friendly companies and nature-protecting non-profit organizations. 

As we delved deeper into the individual problems, we discovered mindset limitations, comfort zone crises, and other significant details that holistically block eco creatives from collaborating with their ideal high-ticket mission-aligned clients.

Research methodology

To gain specific insights into this particular focused group, we conducted qualitative research, which is not meant to be representative. While the sample size was small, this exploratory method allowed us to dive deep and understand individual behaviors.

I personally wrote individuals in relevant groups and communities to participate in the survey, which generated a total of 28 respondents, as well as conducted 24 interviews, each lasting approximately 60 minutes, both before and after the survey. The survey remained open for 18 days, while the interviews were spread out over several weeks.

We also performed thorough desk research, utilizing reliable sources and methodologies, to complement our field research with strong quantitative findings.

As an advocate for quality over quantity, it’s important to emphasize that the focus here lies on the quality of the data we gathered which ensured valuable insights.

Adding a note about surveys in general: Oftentimes, they are not representative of true human behavior as people often show off their best side when filling out surveys. That said, I found this one to show honest results since 1) the answers came from freelancing creatives who are fully invested in the growth and sustainability of their businesses and 2) I followed it up with in-depth interviews which allowed me to dive deeper into their answers and interact with them on a 1:1 basis.

The main struggles

One noticeable insight we could gather during our desk research was regarding the biggest challenge freelancers face on a day-to-day basis. According to a survey by freelancermap, three major struggles stand out:

  • Landing clients – 56 %
  • Separating personal life and work / work-life balance – 36 %
  • Getting a better payment – 31 %

Read more about the freelancermap survey here.

These insights were also reflected in our Freelancing Creatives Survey. While some participants were able to find enough clients, they encountered a problem: Their clients’ budgets were often too low.

However, upon closer examination, we discovered that this issue stemmed from eco creatives not giving their dream clients the opportunity to find them. In other words, they failed to establish themselves as experts in their field in front of their audience. We will explore this topic further in the upcoming sections.

First mind block: Marketing ethics

“I wish there were a way to market my business that aligns with my values” – if you nodded your head right now, you are not alone. We found that this thought reciprocated with 71.4 % of freelancing creatives in our survey.

Marketing, however, is not the problem, it’s the abuse of it.

The lies and psychological manipulations we see in our daily lives have tuned many creative minds to thinking “This is marketing and it’s icky!” The truth is, marketing is a beautiful gateway between a brand and a client to help each other achieve their dream.

Clipped Wings

During our research process, we noticed a lot of desires, expectations, mistakes, fears, misconceptions, frustrations, etc. from young and veteran eco creatives who were trying to make a mark.

We observed four common traits which may also be the factors holding you back from soaring high.

1. Marketing: An evil necessity?

Despite recognizing the benefits and importance of marketing (78.6 %), many freelancing creatives in the eco space perceive it as dishonest, pushy, or feel unsure about how to approach it.

However, this perception is misguided.

[Discover how marketing’s misuse for manipulation is the real issue in this article: No more marketing manipulation with these easy ethical practices.]

This is not surprising because consumers are becoming extremely aware of the fact that the marketing causes overconsumerism which enables excessive harm done to our planet.

I intentionally made a mistake above, did you notice? I wrote, “marketing causes overconsumerism”. That is simply not true. The abuse of marketing causes overconsumerism.

It’s the companies who exploit marketing to persuade consumers to buy things they don’t need, and often, don’t even want.

Which is why I started Ethical Brand Marketing, to help people promote their products and services in an ethical way, the way marketing was intended to be used.

Marketing is necessary and only causes ‘evil’ if abused

2. Lack of strategic planning

We asked freelancing creatives if they had a marketing strategy and 62.5% said “NO”. We also asked if they were happy with their income and found out that those without a marketing strategy were mostly dissatisfied with their income.

To be exact: 11.1 % are scared they have to go back to corporate, 50 % are struggling to make ends meet, and another 27.8 % are doing well and also know there’s more potential, leaving only 11.1 % claiming they’re doing great. However, upon further inspection through in-depth interviews, half of the 11.1 % don’t have a steady client base and are only secure for the next few months. That’s a lot of fear, dissatisfaction, and insecurity!

Correlation between not having a marketing strategy and satisfaction with financial situation

For the love of your business, plan for profit!

3. Resistance to self-promotion

Not only do many creatives market without strategic planning, half of those without a marketing strategy do not incorporate offers in their content, fearing they might come off as too self-promoting.

Yet, if your content doesn’t showcase how you can solve your potential client’s problems, it might just end up on their overwhelming to-do list, and they could look elsewhere.

Let’s say you’re a copywriter in the EU. You’re expected to keep up with GDPR changes because your content needs to comply, as does any copywriter working with clients from the EU. You can enlighten your audience about an update, and then craft an offer to optimize their text for compliance. Don’t just leave them hanging after dishing out the news. Give them the opportunity to slide into your DMs to discuss the nitty-gritty. Remember, it’s not about self-promotion, it’s about problem-solving. And who doesn’t love a good problem solver?

For the love of your craft, let your clients know you can help!

I’ve seen similar scenarios play out over and over again by whom I call ‘Well-Intentioned Messengers’ = talented creatives not putting out their offer after providing valuable educational content.

Not only are you doing your potential clients a disservice by giving them more work to find someone else to hire, you’re also showing them that your expertise does not lie in marketing your brand, even though that is literally your job for their brand when they hire you.

I invite you to put yourself out there and dare to be rare! Each piece of content is your chance to work with a new mission-aligned client.

You just have to make it easy for them!

4. Not knowing clients well enough

When asked to describe the problem their biggest clients solve for their end consumers, 35.7% said ‘I don’t know’, 7.1% said their client base is too varied to answer correctly, 35.7% described what their clients offer and only 21.4% described an actual problem.

Responses to knowing the problems the end consumers have

Not every freelancer’s job is to solve problems for end consumers. However, your job as a freelancing creative is to attract clients for your clients. You either create content for them or help them in some way.

In order to do that and serve your clients well, you have to know what struggles the end consumers are facing and what they will resonate with.

Knowing your clients’ real problems helps you build irresistible offers which increases your client loyalty

Now you know all that stands between you and your ideal mission-aligned client is just a proper bridge of communication.

And that bridge is called “Marketing”.

Shape the future of your freelancing business

If you’re having any of these challenges and are willing to change your situation now, you’re just in time!

You don’t have to revert to the same old marketing strategies that don’t align with your values. You can market your business in a way that feels authentic and ethical, and I’ll show you how.

Later this year, I’ll be launching ‘Marketing by Nature‘, a brand-spanking new interactive program just for nature-loving freelancing creatives like you.

As an early adopter, you’ll play a vital role in shaping this program — your feedback and experiences will directly influence its development and refinement, meaning you will receive personalized assistance in building your marketing strategy, all while steering clear of sleazy tactics.

You have the unique chance to get intense coaching during our time together and, as an early adopter, will receive lifetime access to this program for 50% off the regular price.

This beta version is not the final version and will be delivered live by me. Actually, there will never be a ‘final’ version. I will continuously add onto this program for as long as this program is alive.

If this unique opportunity is right up your alley, schedule a call and we’ll discuss the details.

Increase your visibility and make your marketing work for you

Let's talk

How do you feel about marketing? Is there anything you've been doing that has, or hasn't, been working out for you? I'm curious to find out, so comment below and let's talk!

Create on and prosper,

Jessica

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