Congratulations to Danielle Vick for Winning the March 2016 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The Challenge was to write an essay that answered this question:

What’s the most important self-marketing task you do for your freelance writing business, or the one you plan to do when you launch your business?

Danielle shared an uplifting account of a major hurdle overcome in her freelancing career, which brought about surprising benefits. Enjoy her winning submission:

Like many writers before me, I sweated over my website.

In hindsight, setting it up wasn’t exactly rocket science. But at the time, I found it vaporized precious hours. And the worst part was I felt those hours were wasted.

I just wanted to write the copy, fling it up on my website, and have it look precisely how I wanted it to look. Learning how to achieve that tested my limits.

In the end, I was quite proud of my website. It looked great, and I felt I’d overcome a major hurdle.

I moved onto the next step and sent out my carefully crafted prospecting emails.

Every morning, I checked the stats on my website. Not too surprisingly, my numbers were discouragingly low. Really low.

I did try to learn how to perform SEO and code my way to the top of the search engines. Really, I did. One day, when my curiosity was more than I could bear, I typed my search words into Google.

I was nowhere to be found. As in, nowhere.

I took about five minutes to be brokenhearted.

But being discouraged wouldn’t get me jobs. So, I tried to look at it a different way and began down the path that would, ultimately, turn out to be my best self-marketing tool.

I first chose this method to try and trick the search engines into finding me. But I quickly found it had other benefits.

It allowed me to hide behind my fears. I despise cold calling. I know we’re supposed to be brave and approach our new career with courage. But sometimes, breaking old habits is hard. I find cold calling makes my palms sweat, my cheeks blush, and more often than not, I end the call feeling lethally discouraged.

But perhaps most importantly, this self-marketing method allowed me to actually practice and hone the skill of copywriting.

My most important self-marketing tool turned out to be… writing blogs.

In the long search for clients after I finished the Accelerated Program, I found it hard to fit in the Write portion of the Write-Market-Study routine.

Writing blogs allowed me to practice all three.

To write good-quality blogs that would be useful to my industry, I had to do a fair amount of studying. Then, I had to actually write them. And finally, I had to market those blogs. I published them on my website, on LinkedIn, on other free blogging sites, and even shopped some of the better ones around to environmental magazines.

Write-Market-Study? I combined all three, and I got something better than more website traffic.

I got jobs.

By posting regular, high-quality content on my website, I ultimately achieved what hours of trying to figure out coding could ever do.

Now, when you type in environmental copywriter, I’m the first name on the page.