In the early days of freelance life, I used to be shy about the fact that so many leads seemed to come from chance encounters, recommendations and friends.
I always imagined that when I had Properly Made It I would move beyond all that, and operate from a place of a highly functioning, SEO-perfected website, a powerful and organised social media content calendar and all the other things I do for clients. A slick machine that would work smoothly to deliver work onto my plate at a consistent rate.
Nope. Still not there.
And increasingly not convinced that I want to be.
Yes, the shiny stuff can be really helpful if you can get it up and running in a way that fits your business and your life. But do we really need to downplay the more homespun, personal approach because it feels less… predictable? Less measurable? A bit more human and weird?
I’m a big fan of the wonky approach. I think it works. I’ve found some great fit clients through personal contacts, random chats, and people following me on socials and liking my vibe. I’m a fan of the slow-grow organic burn. The human connections.
Having a website that works for you and some balance in what you’re talking about on social media is helpful, absolutely. It’s worth planning and aiming for. But don’t lose yourself in it. It’s just one of many bridges that connects you with your people.
YOUR people. Not just any old Googler. And I think that’s the key.
Those people who will voluntarily be in your orbit, where trust develops. Your fans, your peers, your advocates, your friends.
We don’t need to build a shiny automated business machine, unless we want to. We can love, nurture and celebrate our messy growth as we bumble on. One step forwards, two steps back and the occasional lurch to the side.
No it doesn’t feel very businessy, does it? At least not how I expected “Running A Business” would feel, having sat behind the comms wheel at a large institution where everything must run glossily and smoothly at all times.
But I am not glossy or smooth. I am all for the hang outs, the shit-shooting, the laughing at stupid memes, sharing books and thoughts and life kind of stuff.
Maybe this isn’t something to be fixed. Maybe this is just how it works.