Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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September 8, 2023

The Best Free Marketing Tool: The World in Your Head

by Lisa Norman

fantasy world with floating islands

This is part 3 of my series on sharable newsletters, an expanded answer to questions from part 1 and part 2.

This marketing thing has been the hardest part of writing for me, and I’ve met a lot of writers who have had the same experience. Some indie publish because they get tired of trying to market to agents and publishers, only to discover that now they must market to readers. Even traditionally published authors now need to market directly to readers. Seriously? After sweating blood, often for years, to write the thing, now you have to go find your own audience?!?

Yep. Welcome to writing in the twenty-first century.

How Do I Find My People?

The most common question I get asked related to book marketing is: "How do I find my fans (readers, subscribers, etc.)?"

And the answer is: there is no magic wand. I don’t have an easy answer. But I’ve been studying authors and watching their careers for years and I can tell you, there IS an answer.

It begins with something only you can truly know: Who are you? What do you want to be known for as a writer?

The Most Important Part of Marketing (with my apologies to Socrates)

It was Socrates who said, “Know thyself.” That advice can be so stress inducing, there’s no wonder they killed the poor man.

Some of us, me included, were raised to think that it was absolutely rude and the height of hubris to say, "This is what makes me special.” And just having to answer the question, “What makes you special?" is almost impossible for me. I get all twitchy.

I ask my students this question, and I’ve heard “Me? There’s nothing special about me!” too many times.

Some of us have heard too many times that we are not special. We've experienced failures and disappointments. Even looking at that question is painful. Secretly (and some openly) they believe that they are not special.

Traditional marketing starts with, "What do you give to those who buy your product?" (Marketers call this your value proposition.) And in the creative writing world, that translates largely to: "Who are you and what makes you special?" When professionals ask this, they aren’t trying to be mean. They’re looking for the magic wand that will give you success, because that answer is the most important part of marketing.

Ouch. No wonder so many writers have trouble with marketing!

But I promise you, you ARE special. You’re a writer, and that is magic.

Pro Advice on Marketing for Writers: Learn Your Value

I cornered a big-name marketing guru and asked for suggestions on marketing for writers and he blinked. This man makes millions of dollars in marketing. He works for some of the biggest corporations, and this stopped him cold.

After a very long pause, he reiterated everything we've always heard: write great books, get them out wide, share lists, create your own list, know your value, and lean into what makes your work special.

Later he came back to me and made another point that I thought proved what a pro he is. He said, “Writers are in the entertainment industry. Their value is in the stories they tell and the entertainment they offer. Learn your value, and then use that.”

I’ve heard this from the pros more than once. They aren’t trying to be vague. They’re actually trying to help.

Building Your List: You Are the Key to Success

During the research for this series of articles, I looked for hints and tips on getting started building that all-important list, and there wasn't a magic method. Oh, sure, you could buy a list. (Don't.) Or you could join in newsletter swaps (those actually work SOMETIMES, if you are in a good group, but I've seen them result in very weak lists if you're not extremely careful, and it is hard to know how solid a list is before you participate).

The only thing more useless than a small list is a big, weak one. Once you’ve got to a big list, you’re paying to send emails, and now you’re paying to send out things no one cares about. Small and powerful is better.

Remember: I work with authors with lists of many different sizes. I’ve had to talk more than one writer with a huge list out of deleting the whole thing because it was weak. They’d participated in swaps and contests and now their list was full of people who wanted a Kindle or a free book from someone else.

I want to encourage you: You are not alone.

The sad fact is that no one, no post, no expert is going to be able to give you the key to instantly growing your list. BUT — I can give you insight into how to find it. You are the key to your own success:

The magic is in you.

The Magic Wand of Marketing Is Your Joy

Get away from writers and hang out with avid readers for a while, and you'll quickly discover that they think writers are amazing. Why? Because writers have entire worlds in their heads! We have stories, characters, and magic, all going on behind our eyes! Your true fans are going to love the unique magic that is you, the unique stories that live in your head. The unique things that make you … you! And so, to connect with them, you need to connect with yourself.

Let's get started!

First, dig deep into what you enjoy. What can you write about with joy? How does that show up in your writing? For some people, it is mystery, romance, adventure, quirky stuff... it can be anything. And it will be uniquely you. I can't tell you who you are when you are having the most fun. But I can tell you that when you find it, THAT is the most important piece of the marketing puzzle.

  • Why do you write?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • What makes you laugh?
  • What is so important to you that you’d defend it to the death?

The answer is your unique magic.

The List and Your Unique Magic

Once you’ve found it, I want you to look at your existing list as an experiment. Don't judge it by quantity. It is your research pool.* Try posting something fun, something that makes you happy. DO make sure that you're using all the best practices: a catchy subject line, a punchy hook. But be genuinely you. And make sure that you are giving something to your people.

Then watch.

* If your list is zero, then start chatting on social media, blogging, or just go hang out where there are people and find a chance to talk about… that amazing thing. For one person I know, it was a particular fandom. When she found herself in a room with others who felt the same, she turned to me and said, “My people! I found them!”

Now understand: we often can't judge if something is working or not right away. Sometimes the best sign that you have that it has worked is if someone emails and asks a question. If they respond to a newsletter or a blog, take note. I once had a mentor tell me that if one person asks a question, 9 others probably had the same question and didn’t ask. If someone in our modern world takes the time to email you, call it a win.

Look at this blog! Writers in the Storm is known for engagement. We ask questions! And we have some fascinating discussions in the comments. Why? Because we’re all here to talk about the same general topics, and they fascinate us! For WITS, the ideal audience is writers. But for your blog and your newsletter, you want to appeal to readers.

The List: Your Open Rate

More important than how many people are on your list, I want you to look at a statistic called your “open rate.” This means how many people opened your email. If you sent out emails to 100 people and 10 opened them, your open rate would be 10%. Your email system will try to track this, but with all the modern privacy protections, your actual rate will likely be higher than what you see in your statistics. 10-20% is pretty good. Consider anything higher a win.

You want to treat statistics like this as a trend, so don’t worry about if there were 41 or 42 people who opened the email.

Let’s say that you send something out every two weeks. Fun pictures of your cat or your fish. If 10 people opened the first one and 3 people opened the second, that’s going in the wrong direction. Either your list has the wrong people on it or they wanted something else from you. They see something else magic about you. Then you need to decide: are cats central to your stories? Or have you wandered from the heart of who you are? (I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like cat pictures???)

You may also want to ask your people a question and see how many answer. Or put a hook to a blog post in there and let them click through to read it. If they clicked to read more, you know they are interested!

Understand: people are busy. If they give you 30 seconds, that means they like you. More than that and you are doing great!

If it looks like people are reading your messages, lean into that topic. Post more about it, do something similar. But remember: it must always be fun for you!

Going Viral vs. Growing Slow

Let’s say 10 people opened that first email with the cat. Then let’s say that you noticed a couple of new people signing up to your list. The gold standard in our modern world will be when you see that picture going viral (being shared), but don’t hold your breath. It happens. I’ve seen it happen to some of my clients, and it is amazing when it does. But most of the time… you’ll get 12 people to open the next newsletter. That’s a win.

Want to know how one of my clients went viral? He posted 3 times a week for 3 years. He studied his statistics and he found out what his true fans loved. And then, he posted more of that. The post that went viral (and launched a career) had been posted 6 months previously. It took that long to catch on and get shared around. Truth: he wanted to quit after a month. He’s not quitting now.

Silly side note: someone recently shared that exact blog post with me as an example of something truly amazing. The person who shared it didn’t know that he was my client, didn’t know how powerful that post was. They just knew it was amazing and wanted to share.

Too Fast

Another student I had went viral with his very first post. Blew me away. He had so much potential! Sadly, when his next post didn’t have the same success, he stopped posting. The first post had been fun. The second was work, because he thought he had to replicate that success. After that, he thought writing articles was just too hard.

This should not be painful, because it should be coming from your center of fun and things that you truly enjoy. If you don’t love it, you’ll never have the energy to keep it up, so don’t try to do what works for someone else. There’s a sign outside a church near me: “Be you. Everyone else is taken.”

Give your content a cycle or two (weekly, monthly... whatever). And then maybe try something else. See what is happening. Watch your statistics. Slow growth is GOOD growth.

There’s a saying that the first 10 subscribers are the hardest to get. The next hardest will be getting to 50. It'll be a little easier to get to 100. From what I've seen watching a bunch of authors build their lists, it seems to get a lot easier after 300. (Note: this does not apply if someone has bought or swapped for that first set of subscribers.)

I can’t count how many writers I’ve seen give up between 20 and 50. Almost always, they say that it is too hard to keep generating content. If it is hard, you aren’t working from the core of your joy.

Best Marketing Strategy: Be You

I asked my husband (he teaches firefighters and EMTs) how to lift something heavy. “Lift with your legs! Keep the thing as close to your body as possible. Don’t twist. Don’t bend. Don’t lift it over your head.”

Do you see the analogy here? If you aren’t using your core strength, you’re going to hurt yourself and you won’t be able to keep going. Stay close to your core truth. Be you.

When you get the feeling that you are starting to connect, that people are starting to share your posts, lean into that topic. Give them more of that. If they are engaged, ask them what they want... what do they like most about what you have to offer?

Once you know that you have true fans, people who love what you create, people who see your stories as uniquely entertaining, then you can ask them what they want more of!

Especially if you’ve bought your list or if you don’t know your value, don’t ask someone else to tell you what it is. That can lead you in the wrong direction.

Being You Enables Powerful Reader Engagement

This type of experiment can take years, and I haven't found a reliable shortcut. But when you find your unique magical signature, your style, you'll recognize it. You’ll feel it. Your fans will become more interested. And this knowledge will inform your writing career and all your marketing.

When you find it, everything becomes easier. Even writing.

Have you ever talked to someone who isn’t listening? They’re looking at their phone and offering vague encouragement like, “Yeah. Uh huh.” You know, the conversation where you have to fight to stop yourself from saying, “And then an elephant walked in and crushed the waiter, so we decided to leave.”

You know that feeling… you haven’t connected. Readers can be like that.

Now contrast this conversation with a moment you remember talking to your best friend about something you both are interested in. You’re finishing each other’s sentences. You’re playing off each other. One time a friend and I got laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe. She happened to have an oxygen tank handy and we both started taking puffs off of it so we could keep laughing! That is “engagement.” Find it with a reader and you have a fan. It won’t always be laughter. Sometimes there are tears. Sometimes you give them nightmares. The key is, you make them feel something.

Small Can Be Beautiful

A small, engaged list is much more powerful than a large, oblivious one. As an example, I was working with an author who had about 30 people on his list. One of those people happened to be a book reviewer in his genre who was committed to seeing this author succeed. So committed that he connected with other reviewers to help set up a series of interviews for the author about their new book. That 30-person list could sell more books than some lists I know with thousands on them.

Experiment. Test. Play. You CAN find your secret magic.

I wish that I could give each author that magic piece, but I've found that each author’s answer is unique. I teach classes in this stuff, and each student finds their own answer.

Some authors work with solid creative coaches to help them find that core of their purpose and their joy. If you really don't know what gives you joy, and you can't find it, connecting with a professional creative coach may be a place to start. Here's a post on WITS from my favorite coach for creatives.

Now: What resonated with you from this post? What inspired you to try it with your readers? What would you like to learn more about? Let me know in the comments!

* * * * * *

About Lisa

head shot of smiling Lisa Norman

Lisa Norman's passion has been writing since she could hold a pencil. While that is a cliché, she is unique in that her first novel was written on gum wrappers. As a young woman, she learned to program and discovered she has a talent for helping people and computers learn to work together and play nice. When she's not playing with her daughter, writing, or designing for the web, she can be found wandering the local beaches.

Lisa writes as Deleyna Marr and is the owner of Deleyna's Dynamic Designs, a web development company focused on helping writers, and Heart Ally Books, LLC, an indie publishing firm.

Interested in learning more from Lisa? Sign up for her newsletter or check out her brand new classroom where she teaches social media, organization skills, and marketing for authors!

Top image from Depositphotos.

21 comments on “The Best Free Marketing Tool: The World in Your Head”

  1. thanks for this post, it supports the change I've watched myself go through this year. I've struggled so hard with my newsletters, but this year I told myself to make a plan. By June, I've started to deviate from the plan because there were more exciting things to tell than what I had thought up in December. I'm writing historical fiction. I'm a bilingual German. I have things to tell and show no other author can share. And, as I've learned from feedback on my instagram account, I seem to have a knack for writing little common occurances in a manner that readers find highly amusing.

    I'm maintaining two lists, one for my English subscribers, one for my German subscribers. They are both small, but the German one has a high opening rate and lots of response. It's growing slowly, as you've stated, but it's worth while because those are real fans. The English one has more subscribers which I collected through promos and swaps. I'm beginning to see a similar development there as I'm getting into my stride - and publishing more English books.

    Just this morning I wrote the next newsletter with an experiment I've never tried before: finding beta readers among my subscribers. I'm dead curious how that will work out.

    1. Annette! Congratulations - this is fabulous work! I wish you much excitement from those experiments. And yes, growth can be slow, but if you keep at it - and you're going into 9 months here - you're going to get the power. You've found your strength and you're playing to it. And you're seeing the results in that open rate. You have also experienced what I alluded to: that lists from swaps have a different interaction level.

      You're doing all of the right things! And you're using what you've learned to make everything easier. Woohoo! Have fun finding those beta readers!

  2. Well where to start! Thank you for such an in-depth and useful post (so many posts are, well, just thin and bland and disappointing). Inspiring that we can learn enough of this professionalism - another one a writer has to master - to be successful. I particularly struggle with even the idea of marketing myself, being on the spectrum makes bonding on an emotional level difficult. Other neurodivergent people will get me - not sure that the general public will, though. Any tips for that? or doesn't it matter, should I just build a list of other ND people?

    1. Jackie - have you heard the term neurospicy? I love that one. I'm not always the best person to ask about neurodivergence because (as the mother of some very spicy kids) I don't take the common approach, I don't think. I've had people tell me that since I don't see it as a disability, I'm not understanding or supportive enough. But my approach comes from loving some amazing neurodivergent people and valuing them as gifts in my life.

      Here are my suggestions: recognize your superpower and embrace it. You will have skills and talents and approaches to life that maybe the more mundane folks won't have. But that doesn't necessarily mean that these things won't appeal to mundanes. I consider neurodivergency to be a gift. Have I met those who have trouble connecting to mundanes? Yes. Are there times when great power comes with great responsibility? Yes. But your ideal readers are going to see YOU in all of your sparkly uniqueness and they will love you.

      I so grateful for your comment because I wanted to dig deep and try to give real advice... while not being overwhelming and confusing.

      Be you and focus on the people who are going to love you. Enjoy the adventure.

      1. Just one more comment about bonding on an emotional level - only you will know if this applies to you. Some people who struggle with this have become very adept at SEEING the emotions. Where mundanes may just feel the connection and not be able to put it into words, some neurodivergent people become much more aware of it and see it as a physical thing. A mundane person might not see how they use and interact with this emotional connection. It just "is" and so for them, the ability to make it easily actually doesn't help as much with marketing as you might expect.

        They can be more aware of the ebb and flow of emotions, but not understand how they work. And while I do not recommend becoming a psychopath (kidding), you may find it easier to manipulate the thing you can see that others can't. Hence the reference to "with great power comes great responsibility."

        1. Thanks Lisa - so helpful, and thank you for your time in answering me specifically. I'm still (always!) amazed when someone seems to like me, or trouble to spend time on me... I think that is what I have to work on too. You're very generous, and that is something you can be proud of.

          1. Those emotions of self-doubt *may* have a history in the same things that drove you to become a writer. You are unique and special, and yes the "right" people - what I call your fish - are going to LOVE you and they will love the UNIQUE you. You're doing great!

            I see too many authors who try to become what they think people love. That is draining and exhausting.

            You're doing great!

            And I love neurospicy people! You'll find a lot of people who do! It is the "system" that tries to figure out how to smush them into the same mold as everyone else that has a problem. Once we break out of those molds we find that everyone is unique and that is beautiful.

            Thank you for the kind words, but I genuinely enjoy these types of questions and conversations.

    2. Hey Jackie, perhaps this will give you a bit of a lift: I'm following a neurodivergent person on Insta. She's an author, but she also posts about the special challenges she faces to increase awareness. I don't know if you'd be comfortable with something like that, but I see that she gets a lot of interaction on those posts and people express their gratitude. I've learned quite a few things from her that help me with my quirky kids.
      I don't think you necessarily need to bond with people, just be authentic and they will be able to relate to you.
      Good luck!

  3. Thank you for that encouragement. I have a small mailing list--about 33 or 4--. My opening rates are around 25-30%. Not too bad. But it's not growing, despite a free and exclusive short story by me.

    My followers on my blog and Medium are growing more quickly. I'm not noticing much increase in sales from my emails, either.

    Like you say some others think, I'm wondering if an email list is worth it. I only get responses from one person, a fellow author.

    1. VM - you get a customized lesson. (grin) You've given me great information and detailed the choices you face. You're also at a critical choice point that can give you a huge boost or set you back. Let me give you some feedback for what I'd do if you and I were sitting down for what one of my clients calls a "take over the world" session.

      You have information. Now the trick is: what are you going to do with it? Will you throw away the list? Or will you study what you've learned?

      You also have more information to explore that I don't want you to miss, because this is where the power is. What is growing your following on Medium? Is the content there different than the content in your emails?

      Your blog is POWER. And usually that is tied to your list in some way because people want to be reminded of new posts so they can re-engage. So following the blog should PUT them on your list in some form. I've seen people who don't consider "follow" on the blog (which generally sends out notifications via email...) to be a part of the list. If you have the list of those people's email addresses and you've had permission to send them updates from your blog, that *is* an email list, and I consider it to be the same as a powerful newsletter.

      There's no rule that newsletter and blog must be different or separate. When I have clients who feel these two MUST be different, I beg them to include blog updates to the end of their newsletters with links back to the blog. I'm a big believer in reusing content!

      You may want to investigate how you can use your blog as an automated newsletter. If that works, you can lean into it and the list becomes something that happens when you write your blog posts, and your blog posts are where the power is.

      This isn't an either or. It can be a both AND. Medium AND your blog. Your blog AND your list.

      Let's say you have something awesome on Medium and then you post a follow up on your blog... can you use that to move people from Medium to your blog? A line in your bio "___ talks more about (topic) on their blog (name) here (link)." Or whatever you may need to do to respect their terms and limitations.

      You have a free story as a lead magnet. That doesn't help with future open rates if the short story is a "sign up for my newsletter to get ___" and then the newsletter doesn't contain more of what they signed up for!

      I haven't seen these "freebies" be the best way to get people to engage in long-term contact. Open rate is all about "what have you done for me lately?" If they signed up for a free story - have you given them any short fiction in your ongoing newsletters? Or have they realized that they got the story and the newsletter is just marketing?

      Think about something at the bottom of a blog (or in the footer): "Loved this post? Don't miss out on future posts! Get them directly in your email..." It is leaning into the understanding that they liked the blog, so they want more. Give them more of what they love, *provided* that this is on brand for you and something that ties into the core of what you are doing in your writing.

      What is the value of the list to you? It reaches your people and lets you have access to them if things like Medium go away. Also, anything you post on other platforms will only reach a small portion of your people. Generally the percentage of those who are reached is higher with the list. Of course, that only works if you've got the open rate to go with it.

      So what can you give to the list that they only get if they open? How can you tempt them to open? (Think about Fear Of Missing Out - FOMO - although I'm not recommending always leaning into that because that can annoy people quickly.)

      What are they getting from you on Medium that they are NOT getting in the emails you send? What can you to do change that? What can you do to make sure that when your email hits their inbox they save it?

      The newsletter software I recommend has an interaction over time feature to the statistics. I love seeing email stats that show some people opened it right away, others saved it and opened it over their weekend or in their downtime, showing that they are savoring the content.

      Here's my translation of your comment:
      Your list is hanging around to see if you'll do more of what they wanted, but they aren't getting what they want. You *are* giving that content to Medium and they are responding there. Re-think your email content, or make your life easier and just send out your blog content to your list. You'll know you've hit it when the open rate goes up, and hopefully you'll start seeing the list numbers growing again. You're just under the next "stage" at 50. So you're actually going through a VERY common growth stage. Figuring out how to get from 50 to 100 will be a powerful moment for you, and it will be rewarded.

      You're facing key decisions, and those decisions are what is going to get you over 50, and then over 100... and then get the wheel really turning.
      (look at the wheel here: https://writersinthestormblog.com/2021/07/5-reasons-why-authors-need-a-website/ )

      Here's to a ton of success for you!!!

  4. Lots to think about! Sometimes I feel as though I should start from scratch. When I began my website I had no idea what I was doing. LOL

    Over time, my writing has evolved and I probably should have a deep think over all this.

    Wonderful, thoughtful post, Lisa, thank you!

    1. Ellen - that's not uncommon. When we start, we don't know! My own list has gone through multiple incarnations and changed focus more than once. You can change and still protect those precious connections.

      I've seen people who throw it all out and start over. I don't recommend that unless there's some sort of dramatic shift. Let people choose if they want to stay around as you move into your new space. Many of those people will have seen a glimmer of who you are and they're waiting for you to lean into it!

      Have fun as you move forward with this!

  5. I love posts like this. After all these years and years here at WITS, I've never set up my own mailing list. I should have - I know how, and I routinely do it for other people. I haven't because I haven't been in the place these last 8 years to be consistent. Consistency really is the key to happiness in all marketing endeavors.

    I see 2024 as the year to put all these things in place. After cancer, after a household move, and when I finally (finally) have an office. Woo!

    1. Jenny - hugs. Consistency is a big deal, but it isn't the *only* deal. I teach writers all the time that if you can't be consistent, don't let the stress bother you! You do what you can, and that's enough.

      For lurkers: just think what might have happened if you had picked up just a few followers along the way for all of those 8 years...

      Jenny - you wouldn't let your clients hurt their business this way. But I will tell you that the best marketing person I've worked with doesn't even take the time to build her own website. Not because she can't... I've seen her do amazing things. Not because she doesn't see the value... because she's built businesses that make a TON of money for her clients. But simply because she's so busy caring for her clients, she neglects herself.

      You are not alone. I look forward to seeing what you accomplish in that next year! The good news is that you *do* have a presence and probably a bunch of people who *wish* they could be following you.

  6. Based on this series of posts, I started a newsletter on Substack. It didn't go viral, but I did get a lot of readers, and some subscribers.

    1. Oh, Denise! Congratulations!!! Keep at it. Viral doesn't happen right away for most folks. It can take a year or more of content to get your stride. Watch your stats and be yourself. You just made my day!!!

  7. My husband has two sayings. Well, he has a lot of sayings but this post made me think of two in particular.

    One is, "get rich slow."
    The second is, "a little bit of a lot is a lot."

    He held those two sayings close through his entrepreneurial career. They kept him (us) going through the decades of ups and downs. One step at a time.

    1. Your husband is a very wise man. And that's it: slow is powerful. People see the sudden spikes (where someone suddenly becomes very visible) and they think that whatever happened there is the key. But from what I've seen those spikes were often caused by the day-to-day little things done over time that paid off all at once. The trick is not to become discouraged during those day-to-day moments.

  8. My word! I don't even know where to begin with this one. So much goodness and information--even in the comments!

    I really enjoyed the lifting analogy--that really struck me. I took a couple of things from that.

    I think I have been so personally stumped with the subject of "me" because I didn't know how to encapsulate that. There are a lot of reasons for that but there are also historical inhibitors old stories and things I've been told that are still hanging about. It's a big hurdle to get over when you have troubles seeing yourself clearly.

    I also thought about the way some people approach marketing which is they want to have someone do the equivalent of the fireman's carry for them and that doesn't really work. You don't use your "core" at all which is the true essence of you. In fact, some willingly give it all up to someone else who could carry you in the wrong direction! I'm not saying don't get marketing help. I'm saying that you really do have to find your center before you can get effective help, unless someone is helping you find it (different story altogether). And in some cases, that is the heavy lifting. And by some cases, I mean me. I'm a case.

    Ultimately, I'm agreeing with you. I love this. Thank you.

    1. "me" will never fit in a box for anyone, I don't think. I work on the Venn diagram where the "me" we show is the part of us that matches what the reader loves... the part we are comfortable showing. Maybe over time that becomes more comfortable?

      I love your mention of a fireman's carry related to marketing! I think we all would love that. I've met some good marketing folks, but I've never met one who can do as well as the author can. Imagine being lifted by a tiny firefighter. They can get you out, but it is gonna take some time. They're probably gonna drag you. They'll do the best they can, but they don't really know YOU. And if they do, then they've taken a ton of time to develop that relationship... and if you're paying them then that means you're paying for a lot of time up front.

      I'm not saying marketing pros aren't worth it. They ARE. But my favorite way to work with them is in consultation where they point out ways you can improve and direct you to maximize your efforts. AND if possible, they use some of their carefully curated connections to open doors.

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