Because I find myself spending far too much time chasing down gigs, I enrolled in a marketing course to help me target the “right” clients. The beginning exercise requires that I define what I do and whom I serve, as well as provide a realistic description of the ideal client.

Wow, that’s more difficult than I thought it would be. First of all, the broad term that describes what I do is “write and edit.” That makes me, generally, a “writer and editor.” But, wait, there’s more! I’m also a “freelance writer,” “freelance editor,” “content provider,” “blogger,” and half a dozen or more other things as well that all basically point to the same concept. Writer. Editor. For hire.

Try performing a Google search on “freelance writer.” You’ll have to go several pages in before an individual’s name comes up. Most of the search results focus on the how to become a freelance writer, how to make a living as a freelance writer, how to find work as a freelance writer. Many others are platforms where people can hire freelance writers. If I ran a Google Adwords campaign on “freelance writer” alone, I’d have to pay thousands a month just to show up in the first five pages of results. Not first five results, but five pages of results.

Then my homework entailed describing my ideal client. That, of course, sent my mind veering off to current and past clients with whom I truly enjoy working. What that comes down to is I look forward to producing content for them and feel fairly rewarded by their business. Unfortunately for me and this assignment, there’s little commonality among those clients. They have no commonality in business type, business focus, industry, or market. What they do have in common is a positive client-vendor relationship. I’m happy to work for them; they seem happy to have me work for them. I find those traits difficult to quantify or list.

As with many things, I’m probably overthinking it. The crux of the problem, however, remains in the broad application of what I do. Does a company need content produced for it? A newsletter? Blog? Annual report? Website copy? Brochure? Proposal? If so, then that’s probably right up my alley. Does a company produce content that needs improvements? Brochures? Proposals? Newsletters or magazines? Business plans? Annual reports? Again, I have trouble quantifying or listing target “products” within target industries.

I can exclude a few when it comes to producing content. Technical writing isn’t my bag. Neither is medical writing. A lot of scientific writing doesn’t suit me, either: I simply haven’t the background or knowledge to be of much use as a writer for such projects. But I can edit the work in any field to ensure correct grammar, focus on active voice, and so forth.

There’s a reason I suck at marketing and I’m beginning to learn how to quantify those reasons in order to improve. But business success requires marketing. Since I don’t have an unlimited budget, effective marketing is necessary. I have no budget to waste.

I don’t believe that marketing is solely based on a “Hey, hire me!” outreach. It also includes a softer approach, such as a demonstration of value. To that end and to show you that I’m really not the greedy shrew this article suggests, I will have a Christmas gift for everyone. Coming soon, I will publish a short story based on the centuries-old fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin. Told from the perspective of the miller’s daughter caught between the proverbial rock and hard place–a father’s lie, a king’s greed, and an imp’s ulterior motives–the story contains no explicit romance. Remember, though, fairy tales were originally written for adult entertainment, so the adult themes remain.

Look for “Skeins of Gold” to be posted as a free download by December 25.