Movie Plots Don’t Make for Good Business Strategy

3 min. read
November 18, 2022

2022 has been a record year for me in every respect. I have marketing to thank for that.


Few words inspire more raucous enthusiasm, more adoring praise, more…

Just kidding.

Freelancers treat marketing like a tax auditor. “Rancor” better describes the relationship most of us have with it.

“Oh, you’re here. Best to get it over with, I suppose. You’re absolutely sure you must stay?”


When we first start working together, my coaching clients inevitably make confessions like this:

“I wish I could just do the [writing, design, insert thing you like here], and let the quality speak for itself. I don’t particularly enjoy marketing. I’m not particularly good at it. I prefer to focus on my craft.”

I used to think the same thing, and as time passed and quality didn’t grow my business the way I hoped, I started calling my belief in it the Field of Dreams Fallacy. If you build it, they will come.

Movie plots don’t make for good business strategy

Even if you are really good at what you do, high-quality work isn’t enough oomph, enough forward momentum, for two specific reasons:

  1. Freelancing is a crowded marketplace. The quality of your work may speak for itself, but with everyone talking at the same time, how will your dream clients hear that quality? We need consistent marketing to amplify it.
  2. Our clients often aren’t the best judges of quality, and for the ones with good taste quality isn’t always the deciding factor.

Here’s a short, incomplete list of other factors that shape a would-be client’s purchasing decisions:

  • Cost
  • Timelines
  • Recession
  • Gas Prices
  • Indigestion
  • Internal politics
  • Past experiences
  • Payment schedules
  • Midterm elections
  • External market forces
  • CEO’s travel schedule, plus marketing director’s romantic turmoil, plus the number of angels that can fit on the head of a pin

We’re like, “Hey, when you’re ready to hire someone, I do really good work.” 👋

They’re like, “Who can get this taken care of so I can keep moving down my list?”

Usually, she’s looking for “good enough” because she simply doesn’t have the time or bandwidth to roll out a logical, methodical hiring process:

  • Track down the best freelance candidates for FILLINTHEBLANK
  • Compare portfolio samples or other tangible forms of proof
  • Schedule interviews, ask well-crafted questions, and score candidates
  • Compare scores and hire the best candidate

What did you do when you needed a tax accountant, doctor, or auto mechanic? Did you assemble a list of the best providers, based on referrals and your own research, and rigorously vet them?

You may do this every so often—for example, before you get LASIK done on your one set of eyeballs.

But usually, we’re too busy to ferret out the highest quality option for every purchase.

Do you believe your would-be clients are so different? They aren’t. They often shoot from the hip. They go with their gut.

They’re using more emotion than logic.

Ask Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast and Slow), Chris Voss (Never Split the Difference), and Antonio Damasio (Descartes’ Error) how many of our decisions are driven primarily by cold logic, and they’d tell you only a tiny fraction.

With most creative and marketing decisions, our clients follow the path of least resistance.

As they’re walking downhill, will you be standing right in the middle of the path?

That’s what consistent marketing does for you: It makes you the easy, obvious choice.

Your dream clients won’t hire you if you’re hard to find. They will hire you if they keep bumping into you.

Are you making yourself the easy, obvious choice?

What helped me was doing my marketing first thing each work day so I didn’t procrastinate.

Do you currently have a morning marketing habit?

If you know you need to form one, I can help.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info

Austin L Church portrait photo.

About the Author,
Austin L. Church

Austin L. Church is a writer, brand consultant, and freelance coach. He started freelancing in 2009 after finishing his M.A. in Literature and getting laid off from a marketing agency. Freelancing led to mobile apps (Bright Newt), a tech startup (, a children's book (Grabbling), and a branding studio (Balernum). Austin loves teaching freelancers and consultants how to stack up specific advantages for more income, free time, and fun. He and his wife live with their three children in Knoxville, Tennessee.


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