It's a myth that our workflow must be in a perpetual feast-or-famine cycle.
If you do at least a few small marketing activities every day (or every business day), even when you have enough work and even when you feel panicky about lack of work, you can eventually get to the point where work finds you instead of the case always being that you must find the work. I’ve been self-employed for 21 years now, and this has happened for me. It has happened for other freelancers I know who have been in the game for a long time.
No, marketing doesn’t mean going around plastering messages everywhere like “I’m the best [editor, proofreader, indexer, designer, etc.] ever” or “Please send me a project so that I can pay my mortgage [or rent].” So many freelancers say things like “I don’t want to blow my own horn.” But that’s not what marketing is.
All that marketing means is doing things so that you’re visible online where your target clients can find you. It means sharing knowledge, not bragging. It can involve teaching courses (to potential clients to show your expertise), writing blog posts, being active in professional associations so that colleagues see what you can do and will think of you for referrals, being active on professional email lists (such as Copyediting-L), posting articles and status updates to LinkedIn, writing articles for professional newsletters and journals, and tweeting about your profession without saying, “Please contract with me now!” It doesn’t have to be done in every possible venue either; choose a few that feel natural to you and start talking.
It’s not going to happen within just a couple of weeks, and you’ll have to be dedicated to marketing your business. Also, not every marketing activity has to be a huge, time-consuming project. There are lots of little things you can do.
You might find these blog posts of mine helpful:
If you’re an introvert, don’t let that stop you. I’m one, and I’m all over the Internet.