When you first start to use your voice, you're afraid people will turn away from you. They will think you're a monster. They will scorn and persecute you, take away your privileges.
When you first start to speak out, it hurts.
But soon you realize that if you don't use your voice, you will never change a thing. If you stay silent, you will enable the evil.
So you use your voice, because you owe it to the ones who came before. You use it because silence no longer is an option. You use it even though it hurts. And people turn away.
But in their place, new people come. The right people. Your soulmates, your compañeras, your comrades, your family. So you use your voice some more, and the abundance blossoms all around you.
And then you run through the streets yelling USE YOUR VOICE! USE YOUR VOICE BEFORE YOU'RE DEAD! like a madwoman. But who cares? You don't. And maybe you are a madwoman. But you aren't silent and you never will be again.
Your voice is the only thing you truly own. It's like a fingerprint, you know? Nobody has one like yours.
Women writers, feminist freelancers, and permaculture entrepreneurs:
you need to know this stuff.
Tips for success and a free downloadable checklist for how to build your own freelance marketing funnel.
by Heather Jo Flores
Guess what? Your marketing strategy is a whole system design. As a long time permaculture designer, I should have known it would be!
What follows is a “stuff I seriously wish I would have known when I started” list of essential tips for online entrepreneurs, especially if you’re relatively new at this and have spent any time at all resisting learning about “marketing” because it’s yucky.
Let’s jump right in!
1. Lift other people up, especially people who seem like your closest competitors.
Your work is different than theirs, or at least it should be. And they are probably awesome people, right? I mean, if they’re doing work that intersects with your own passion, calling, and creative expression, then chances are you have a lot in common and could probably even be friends. If you openly and sincerely promote the work of people you admire, the light will shine back on you a thousandfold. This is basic abundance theory, and it works.
Join this group for mutual support.
2. Find your niche.
If you don’t know your market, if you don’t know who your audience is, then how do you know what to offer?
Take the time to figure out exactly who you want to serve and how. Start with asking yourself who you want to have in your life who you want to interact with, on the daily.
Finding your niche is the second most important part of being a successful freelancer. (The first most important is daily practice, and lucky for you I offer awesome online courses on BOTH topics!)
3. Give, give, give.
Give ridiculously valuable content away for free, like this game-changing freelance marketing guide I just made for you.
Even if you’re thinking, wow this is great writing! I could sell this to a magazine! Yeah, totally, of course! Do that. Send out a query, and if you get the gig, awesome. But if you don’t, or if you just can’t be arsed to hunt around for a publisher right now but you’ve just written something really brilliant, just send it out to everyone!
You can write something else that’s even more brilliant tomorrow. Don’t be miserly with your creativity. It doesn’t run out...unless you hoard it. Then, it withers.
Yep, more abundance theory. And y’all KNOW I am not into the woo-woo stuff! But the fact remains: the more you give, the more you get, and when people can see that you truly love being a part of the abundance cycle, they will get on board. I promise.
4. Content, content, content.
Content is queen.
If your voice, your niche, and your offers are unique, original, and authentic, you will succeed. But you have to keep it flowing. No matter what happens with your life, your business, your family, try to make time every day for research and/or writing so that your blog always has fresh, original content.
Sure, you can schedule blog posts months in advance, and indeed you should. But don’t let that make you lazy, because you know as well as I do that the creativity can stagnate.
Take it seriously. This is a job, after all. Generate new creative work as often as possible, even if it seems scattered at first. Even if you feel like a complete imposter! Don’t even worry about it. Just. Keep. Writing. You’ll hit the sweet spot eventually. You’ll find your niche. Unless you give up. Then, you won’t.
5. Speak their language.
Speaking of content, what language are speaking? What lexicon are you using? It matters.
Are you writing in the tongue of your chosen brand archetype?
Are you speaking the language of your target market?
Learn the words that your ideal audience wants to hear, and use them. Keywords, hashtags, prose, sales copy, social media blurbs—it all needs to be within a lexicon you have intentionally chosen. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Common language leads to trust.
You aren’t tricking them by doing this! You are accommodating them, meeting them where they are at, and honing your own message and identity as a creative and unique individual in the world.
6. Shed the shame.
De-stigmatize self-promotion! You are not an imposter. Show off your feathers and, if it helps, think of it as “communicating” instead of “marketing.” This is your art! You're allowed to share it and to make money on it too.
Personally, I think the bias against “self-promo,” which is especially prevalent in women’s communities, is rooted in patriarchy, and in the age-old traditions of telling women to STFU about their ideas.
When I say self-promotion, I’m not talking about smarmy MLM’s or whatever, (though even they can have value sometimes too). I’m talking about women being afraid to promote their own creative work because they think it will turn people off.
And to augment the problem, there are a ton of focus groups on Facebook, for women writers and a zillion other types, that strictly prohibit the posting of anything you wrote, made, or thought of yourself, and I find this just absurd.
What the heck is the point of spending a bunch of time yammering on in some facebook group about everything BUT the work of the women in that group? It makes no sense!
I moderate several large groups on Facebook that actively encourage self-promo in all of my groups. And guess what? It’s never a problem. Nobody is ever spamming or trying to sell Ray-bans! They are networking, actually, and bringing real change to each other’s lives.
if you’re a creative freelancer, people need to know about your work. Or you’re never going to get paid. And you need paid, right? At least once in a while, yes you do.
And if you resist learning the small but specific set of skills you need to succeed as a freelancer, just because those skills are labeled as “marketing,” then you are doing yourself and your potential readers/clients/friends a great disservice.
Because here’s the thing:
People don’t know. Your friends, colleagues, and social media buddies don’t know how brilliant you are. Maybe some of them do, sure. But most of them—the vast majority of them—do not know who you are, what you create, and what you can do for them as a client. And they want to know. They spend money on services like yours, and they want to know about their options.
I can’t count how many times I’ve had somebody I correspond with regularly say, months after I felt like I was over-promoting some course, say to me “OMG you’re offering THAT?!? I had no idea! I want it!!” So, do not underestimate the power of what I like to call "friendship marketing."
But ethical, friendship-based marketing goes far beyond just talking about yourself on social media.
Which brings us to our final item:
7. Build a freelance funnel.
Every freelancer needs a fully-automated freelance marketing funnel, so they can give spend more time writing and being creative, and (almost) no time re-posting, re-blogging, cutting-and-pasting, and all that other tedious stuff it takes to get paid.
If you’re a permaculture person, you can relate the design of your funnel to how you might design your garden: so that most of the elements are automated, self-perpetuating perennials that need very little maintenance, while you focus your energy on whatever new things you want to grow/write/create!
You might already know about funnels, or at least you’ve heard of this mysterious “marketing funnel” thing-y. You might even have one already built, and if it’s working perfectly and not taking up too much of your time, then you know I am absolutely right about this.
But without the right information, building your funnel is easier said than done.
And if you’re anything like me, you searched high and low for a step-by-step guide to building a simple and functional funnel, but ended up having to just teach yourself the process because the short version of this information is actually really hard to find.
I found a lot of links that, on the surface, promised to teach me "the anatomy of a sales funnel," and "how to make money as a freelancer," but none of them really explained it. They were all just lead magnets for cheesy marketing and consulting services and training programs that cost more than I made my whole first year as a full-time freelancer.
You do NOT need to pay somebody $2500 to teach you how to build your funnel!
You don't even need to pay them at all, because I'm giving you everything you need to build a gorgeous, multifunctional funnel, without spending any money.
If you’re confused, overwhelmed, and not even sure what in the heck a funnel is and does, and ESPECIALLY if you haven’t yet realised that your funnel is your new best friend and can make it possible for you to spend most of your time gardening and being creative then this guide is exactly what you need.
Like most acquired skills, building a marketing funnel is super easy to do, with some clear instructions. But it's damn hard to figure out by yourself!
So, to keep you from making all the mistakes I made, and because I think that every woman writer and permababe-preneur (I just made that up!) needs free access to a clear and actionable formula for setting up a sales funnel that will quickly and painlessly connect you to your ideal clients/friends/community, I made you this:
HOW TO SET UP A FREELANCE FUNNEL
(without spending any money)
The guide is a downloadable PDF, written entirely by me: just 3700 words of clear, actionable instructions in the form of a step-by-step checklist, with links to all the tools and resources, in case you get stuck.
P.S. By inviting you to download this guide, I am inviting you into my very own funnel, where I share my own writing, ideas, and offers for women writers and permaculture women. And I promise you: it isn't yucky at all. It's awesome.
So, since the medium is the message, you will not only get the guide itself, but you will get to see and participate in a working example of exactly the type of system I am teaching you.
It’s all totally free. I'm not trying to hustle you and I have no products related to marketing nor am I hustling up work building sales funnels for other people.
I'm just really excited to have finally learned this system and I want you to have access to this information so you can get your creative work out to people who will pay for it, and spend more time doing what you love!
See you real soon
by Heather Jo Flores
What do you want?
Back in 2015 I spent the entire Spring and Summer touring around the USA for Food Not Lawns. I taught workshops, turned lawns into gardens, and made hundreds of new friends. When I got to Indiana, I took three days off to catch up with my friend Garry, a sort of Uncle From Another Muncle character, who has been my writing mentor for thirty years.
Garry describes me as having been “a very serious child,” and loves to tell the story about how I made a Rubix Cube costume out of a painted cardboard box and won First Place in the Cerritos Mall Halloween Contest. I used to show him the weird little stories I wrote and he always critiqued them with clarity and sincerity, always encouraged me to “just keep writing.”
These days, Garry is a successful screenwriter with a dozen feature films under his belt. He just turned sixty. He has a wife and three grown children, and writes Hollywood movies in his cozy studio on the old family farm in Northwest Indiana. I found it beautiful there, pastoral, as long as you don’t mind the mosquitoes. Cornfields sprawl in every direction. I found zen in the monoculture, peace in the predictability of rural Indiana. It is basically the opposite of the West Coast. There are no hipsters, no gentrification to speak of, and coffee still costs a dollar. I found comfort in that. But of course it was an illusion.
Garry and I stayed up late, cracking obscure literary jokes, carrying on about the hero’s journey, and geeking out on the ancient art of storytelling. I told him about my MFA thesis, about my assertion that a true female heroine wouldn’t use violence to solve her problems, she would use her mind, her wit, her lineage, and her experience. She would negotiate, rather than fight. And she wouldn’t just solve her own problems or quest for her own treasure, she would only find satisfaction in a victory that helped others. We talked about how the proverbial beast, the dragon to be slain, in whatever form manifested, shows up in all great stories ever told, and how that beast is a metaphor for what lies within each of us. We mused over whether perhaps the problem with this profit-driven, destructive culture is that we have been spending too much time trying to slay and control our beasts, but not enough time trying to understand and befriend them.
My last night in Logansport, I went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant with Garry and his whole family. All of the clientele, including our party, were white, blonde, tall and thin. I, with my raven black hair and short, curvy body, was by far the brownest person in the room. Until I saw that the staff was entirely Latino. When our waiter came to our table, he asked each person in turn, in English, what they would like to order. But when he came to me he said, with a broad smile:
“Que quieras, mija?”
What do you want, my child?
My grandmother used to call me mi’ja. It’s a term of endearment used commonly in Latino families. And it warmed my heart to feel seen here, by this brown-skinned waiter in this Mexican restaurant in Indiana, as one of his family.
Later that night, while Garry and I were having our chat, he brought it up.
“Did you see the metaphor there?” He asked me.
“Aren’t you searching for something?” he asked.
Garry laughed and shook his head. “No, Heather, not the way you are. You think everyone is searching? Most people are sleeping. Most people are just going through their lives without embracing any quest at all. But you, you are on the quest of your life right now. And as a writer, you are your own protagonist. The heroine of your own journey. So, in keeping with the pattern of any good protagonist, tell me: what is your greatest desire? What is your simple, concrete goal?”
Que quieras, mija?
What do I want? I want a home, a focus, and to feel like I am doing meaningful work in a community that appreciates me. It’s an easy sentence to type out but what do those things actually mean? Dare I unpack that?
A place to live, a practice to love, and a way to contribute that makes use of my skills and provides for my needs in return. Seems simple enough. Permaculture, sustainability, community, right livelihood — these terms are familiar to us, but what do they really mean? For me they imply regenerative human ecosystems, habitat, shelter, interaction. Connection. I want to be an animal in the system in which I live. Not exactly like Tarzan and Jane but…close. But more than that, I want to feel like my unique set of skills and experiences is doing the most it can do.
Is this what I would call “home”?
Wherever you go, there you are. Physically. And wherever you find yourself, that’s the path. Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan talked a lot about the “path with a heart.”
Is that the way home, then?
Home is where the heart is, that’s what they say.
Hmm. My heart is in my body, and my body can’t seem to stay in one place for more than a few seasons. Ok, I know that old saying means home is where your family is, where the people you love, live. But for me those people are spread out all over, and to be honest I wouldn’t want to live with most of them anyway.
Perhaps home is where the art is? And again we come back to the body. I use my body to make the art, but where do the ideas come from? My brain, also my body? Or somewhere else? I have never been able to settle on a belief system for that one. All I know is that I don’t know.
Where does the art come from, and where does it go? In my case, everywhere. I have left my art in every house I have ever lived — more than a hundred houses now. My life has taken me to so many places, and I leave a trail of art-crumbs so that my family can find me, in case I get lost in the woods. I leave the art behind, but my body goes with me, and everything I have done goes back to it.
We cannot talk about home without talking about privilege.
In this culture where a basic human shelter is not considered a basic human right, the question of what it means to have a home becomes inextricably connected to the question of what it means to be a human. And for me, my decisions to be childfree, and to eschew the norms of an “average American woman,” have profoundly affected my perceptions of both home and humanity.
Having a safe, secure and stable home is a privilege, but it should be a right. We are born and we exist. We didn’t choose that. And while we are here, we need a place to sleep, to eat, to shit, to make love. We need a place to be, to live, to express and create. And the entire capitalist system is built around forcing humans to work in order to have a place to live. And, according to the particular destiny of vicinity in which we might find ourselves, some people have to work a lot harder for a lot less space to live in than others.
Me, I grew up on the road. Single mom, two kids, and we never stayed in one place more than a year. It wasn’t because we enjoyed traveling. It was because my mom had such a hard time keeping a roof over our heads that, a lot of the time, we didn’t have one. It was just cheaper to sleep in the van. Mom was a hippie, a groupie, a teenage single mother and survivor of severe sexual, verbal and physical abuse. We parked the van, the car, the station wagon (we also went through a lot of cheap used cars) in somebody’s driveway and stayed awhile, then moved on. Sometimes we had an apartment. Later on mom got better at finding cute little houses for cheap rent. She fixed the place up, made curtains for the windows.
By the time I dropped out of high school in tenth grade, I had attended nineteen different schools. As an adult, the longest I have ever lived in one house was about three years, and that only happened twice: once at the Ant Farm (our punk house named after the colony of carpenter ants who lived in the kitchen ceiling) and then again at the Hope Farm (it was an acronym for Holistic Organic Permaculture Education.) Both times, it was a love affair and garden that kept me there so long, and the falling apart of said relationship that forced me to move. The agriculture was the part that made it feel like home, and the sex was the nexus, the vortex, the nucleus of the experience. Biology runs the show.
So, what do I mean when I say I want a home? Do I mean that I want to find a house and get a mortgage? No. Hell no. That is not at all what I am talking about. When I say I want to find a place that feels like home, I mean I want a tribe, a connection that feels like I can finally, for the first time since I was born, stop running. I want to belong. To be loved. To grow food and share it. To express my ideas and opinions and have them feel useful, valued, accessible. A farm and some dogs. A field of seeds and a grove of trees. A group of friends who laugh together and trust each other without question.
Forget all the reasons I shouldn’t want these things or why I think I don’t deserve them. Forget how untouchable they may seem at this moment. I want them and I don’t have to justify that to anyone. All I have to do is find them.
The Destiny of Vicinity
Sometimes I talk about “the destiny of vicinity.” Whatever I find myself around, that’s what influences me. That’s my quest, my personal yellowbrick road. That’s what I do, whom I meet, who I love and fuck and live with. And those relationships influence my thoughts, my feelings, my choices. No man is an island, and women? Even less so. How about you? Are you at “home”? Or just in a house somewhere? What is the compass you use to navigate your life? How has the placement of your physical body affected your path through the world? Have you mastered the fine art of being in the right place at the right time?
We all follow a path through life that unfolds according to where we find ourselves living, working, studying. Often these locations were not choices made by ourselves, but rather are connected to our families, employers and opportunities. I am fascinated by the way a person’s life is ultimately connected to where they find themselves. This connects to community work, partnership, and so much more.
Comfort vs. Free Will
People always say to me “I envy you, you have so much freedom. I feel trapped in my life and you just seem to go and do whatever you want.”
But freedom can become a prison of its own, and what a lot of people don’t realize is that my ecdemomania is largely fueled by economic and social imperative. It costs a lot of money to stay in one place. And it really helps if you fit in, or you might find yourself in danger. I don’t have a lot of money, and I certainly do not fit in. And so what many people seem to see as me making “choices,” I see more as me making the best use of the limited options I have available.
And so, back to the destiny of vicinity.
If I refuse to accept the options that fell into my lap by accident, then where do I place myself in order for the things that I want to become available to me?
Where do I go?
Do I continue the path of happenstance, feel my way, clue by clue, through the world?
Do I accept my destiny as a vagabond, a life spent entirely on the move, and just keep running? Trust that this ability to run is the pattern that was given to me, my super power that will guide me through?
Or do I hover and wait and focus and pray?
I am determined to figure it out, one day, one step, one mile at a time.
I wrote this piece at the tail end of ten years of perpetual wandering with no partner, no stable home or job to speak of. I had just spent several months in an adobe house in the hot springs town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and was about to hit the road yet again, still searching for my true place in the world.
But then something shifted. It was as if, through writing this, through allowing myself to explore the layers of my predicament, I broke free from the pattern. Shortly after, I stumbled into what can only be described as the healthiest and happiest relationship of my life, moved to Spain, and settled into an abundant, effortless creative practice that seems to hold none of the daily turmoil that used to follow me around. What comes next remains to be seen, but for now, I have finally, at forty-six years old, come home.
So now it’s your turn:
Que quieras mija?
Are you a smart, independent woman who wants to grow your own food, heal the Earth, and make a living as a freelance writer or artist?
Then you’re in luck, because that’s my jam!
What's a heroine's journey and why does it matter?
Are you a freelance creative?
A permaculture entrepreneur?
A feminist marketer?
Then you are definitely going to want to see this.
Looking for the #freepermaculture garden blog?
How to Write a Heroine's Journey
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