Do you struggle with your marketing?
Is it hard to keep track of client and guest post pitches?
Are you not seeing any success when it comes to networking?
These are some of the most common frustrations a lot of freelancers have.
I know, I was right there with you. I thought I could keep everything in my head, or clutter up my inbox. But that never worked.
I knew I was still missing out on client and relationship building opportunities. And that was costing me money.
At the end of last year, I got tired of it. So I made a change.
And whew, did that finally help me get my life in order.
Enter Streak for Gmail.
In this post, I want to share how I’ve been able to use Streak to keep track of my marketing.
But wait, there’s more!
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Why freelancers need to get their marketing organized
- Some background on Streak
- How to get it up and running
- How I use it for specific marketing tasks
Ready to dig in and start leveling up your marketing skills?
A real life example of why marketing is essential for freelancers
Let me tell you a story.
It’s about a freelance writer. She looks something like this (helmet on to protect her identity):
She’s been at it a close to a year. It’s been a struggle at first, but over the last few months, things started to click.
She secured a couple of clients. Things seem to be on an upward trajectory. So, when it came to marketing, she took her foot off the gas.
After all, things were good, right? These clients weren’t going anywhere.
Then one day an email appears. The subject line? End of contract.
Inside, the email is the standard it’s not you, it’s me, only in digital form.
We’ve been cutting back on marketing. You’ve done a great job, but…yadda yadda yadda.
The only words that matter come at the end: we won’t need your services after this month.
Here’s an example of this in real life (my own):
So, yea. That sucks.
Now, what happens when our freelancer sees this? Let’s go back to her.
She gets the news email and has a few choices:
2. Cry. Then panic.
3. Cry. Panic. Then cry some more.
There may or may not be ice cream eating here as well.
Now she’s back at zero. She’s taken a big hit to the income. And she doesn’t have any irons in the fire or warm leads.
It takes a mountain of effort and hustle (and more crying, ice cream, and panic) until things get back on track.
That was me a few years ago. Not prepared.
I’d say that was a good lesson to learn the first time. But I’m hard headed.
So, it took this process repeating before I finally got it.
Yea, I know.
You might have learned this by now too. And if you haven’t, class is in session.
Marketing is the lifeblood of freelancing. You have to do it, especially when you’re new to it.
And here’s the thing: the marketing process doesn’t end. Clients can (and will) disappear at any given time. So you always need to have stuff in the works to find new clients, back up plans, and backups for the backups.
Without it, even the smallest change in your current client roster can leave you in trouble.
Being a freelance writer, I focus on things like the following:
That’s pretty much the roster. And as awesome as I am (I am) even I can’t keep all that info in my mind palace.
I needed help, and that brought me to Streak.
What is Streak CRM?
Alright, first let’s tackle the CRM part.
That’s business world speak for a Customer Relationship Manager. A CRM is a tool that helps you keep track of customer relationships in one place.
These get used by everyone from freelancers to Fortune 500 professionals to track customers through the sales cycle.
Usually, these systems are massive and expensive. Not ideal for the soloprenuer, freelancer, or small business.
Streak CRM is helping to change that. It works directly with your Gmail. No extra tools or programs necessary.
Here are the things I love about Streak:
- Easy to access: It’s always there in my inbox, but at the same time, it doesn’t change the look and feel of Gmail.
- Customizable: You can do a lot of tweaking and create a system that works for you.
- Intuitive design: It looks good which makes me a lot more likely to use it.
- At a glance: I can get all the information I need on a potential customer or pitch in one glance.
Oh and I almost forgot…you can use it for free.
How to install Streak for Gmail
If you want to dive in and give Streak a try here’s how to do it.
Go to streak.com.
On the home page, you’ll see a big orange button that says “Install Streak for Gmail.”
This is going to add an extension to your browser. It’s unobtrusive, you can barely see it.
Once that’s done, log into your Gmail.
You’ll see this pop up:
Google will ask you which email address you want to use. Ha, as if I’d give you my real email address!
Next, you’ll be asked by Google to allow Streak to in your inbox.
Streak will try to help you get set up along the way. They will ask to pick which type of team you’re on.
I chose sales since I’m using it as a marketing focus.
It then asks what you want to track.
I chose deals. If you want to use it in another way, try some of the other options.
Note that you aren’t married to your selections for life. If you don’t like them, you can change them later.
It also asks if you want to take a quick tour, which is probably a good idea.
Alright, cool it’s installed.
Here’s what it will look like on your Gmail sidebar at first:
And here’s what it looks like when you click ‘Sales Deals’ from the sidebar.
Ok there is a lot going on here.
Hold up. Before you start freaking out, remember this is a suggested template. It can (and should) be tweaked to your needs.
That’s what I’m going to cover in the next section, using my own set up as an example.
Customizing Streak to work for you
When I first started playing around with Streak, I too got a bit ambitious. Then I realized that as a solo freelancer, I didn’t need the whole shebang, just a modified version.
Here’s what I have working right now, I’m sure as I get more into it I will make some tweaks.
This is a screenshot, I’ve whited out some names to protect the innocent.
My system has four parts.
- Pitched guest posts
- Pitched companies
- LR networking (you likely won’t need this one, unless you’re trying to steal my job)
- LF networking
This is about as simple as it gets. You can adjust to your own needs.
In the meantime, you might want yours to look more like mine.
If you want to make changes, keep reading.
Step 1: Change the overall name
Streak starts by calling your stuff “Sales Deals.” Don’t bother paying attention to anything below that (for now) because those are part of a paid plan.
We’re sticking with the free version for the moment.
All you have to do to change the name is click where it says “Sales Deals” at the top and change it what you like.
I call mine “Marketing” because I couldn’t come up with a clever name that means marketing.
Step 2: Decide on the number of stages (plus names and colors)
When you hover over any of those colored arrows at the top (Streak calls them stages), you’ll see a widget icon appear.
Click that, and you’ll have the option of renaming, deleting, and changing the color.
When you start, you’re likely not going to need all the stages they have. So feel free to delete. I only have four on my system.
Step 3: Decide on column headers
Admittedly, I haven’t done much with the headers, as you can see from above, I just have name, stage, freshness, and notes though Streak does have some cool options.
Once again, you can add, delete, move, or change these by clicking on the drop-down arrow.
I keep mine pretty simple, but I’ve recently gotten into the ‘freshness’ option since it’s an easy way to see when I should be following up.
You can find that here:
That’s it in terms of set up. See, I told you it was easy.
Now you want to start adding contacts.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Get the email
Remember, this is all email based, so you need to start with an email. This can be an email already in your inbox or one you’re currently writing.
Once you have Streak installed, you’ll see their little icon in grey next to your emails.
Let’s use this one from my inbox to show you how to add it. Open it up.
Wow, this email is awesome! I want to use this to my advantage. So I need to add this to my marketing list to remind myself to send more pitches later.
Step 2: Create a Streak box for it
So click on the orange Streak icon and this drop-down will appear:
You can go with the name they pick or add your own. I generally add the brand or site if it’s a pitch and the name if it’s for networking.
So for this one, I’d add “Very Fancy Blog” as the name since that’s where the email came from (a Very Fancy Blog). Yes, I approved my own guest post for this exercise.
You can choose your own system.
Click on the name.
Step 3: Add your details
Once you do that, you’ll see a new sidebar on the left side of your inbox.
You can start adding information there. Or, you can click back to your pipeline, click the orange icon and see the full sized version.
Now here’s where the magic happens.
You can add all sorts of details in here.
I always double check that the contact is at the right stage. In this case, guest posts.
Then I click on their email, so I have it accessible.
Next, I add a note. I have the notes section as one of my displays on my dash, so it’s a quick reminder of who the person is, our last encounter, what we discussed, etc.
You can also add info at the top too. Anything you add here, once you click “Post” will be saved under the headers.
In this case, I created a task to come up with three topics to include in my follow up email. I also set a due date.
You can see that it’s saved under “Task.”
This part of Streak is where you can go nuts and dig deep into your own needs.
When you go back to your main dashboard, here’s what I’ll see:
I suggest you play around with it to see what options are the best fits for you.
A Few More Features
Beyond what I’ve already covered, Streak has a couple more features I thought I’d mention:
- Email tracking (200 per month): This is a big bonus if you want to get a feel for how your pitches are actually working. You can see if and when emails are opened so you can schedule follow ups.
- Send later: Speaking of follow-ups, the send later option is perfect for this. You can compose all your follow up or checking in emails and then schedule them to go out on a specific date and time.
- Snooze: I’m an avid user of this feature. You can click to ‘snooze’ any email for a particular time or date down the road and when that time comes it reappears in your inbox to remind you to take action.
So why are these important?
Well, the big thing is these email tools help you get a better handle on what’s working and what isn’t. Without tracking you have no idea if anyone has read your email.
But with tracking, you can tell if someone opened it, that gives you a little bit of an opening. Maybe they opened the email and wanted to respond but forgot (it happens!). So you can jump back in with a solid follow up instead of assuming it’s a lost cause.
Just these little tweaks to your approach and strategy can land a few extra clients. Most people won’t go the extra mile.
You can find more on the email power tools that come with the free Streak Gmail version here. I don’t use all of them (yet) but you might find them useful.
Now that you’ve got a feel for how Streak works, here’s a bit more on how I use it.
Here’s a quick look at how I use Streak for Gmail
Remember I said I have four main sections in my pipeline:
- Pitched guest posts
- Pitched companies
- LR networking
- LF networking
This right here is the core of my marketing.
I’ve built a system around pitching and networking that I follow every week. That way it just becomes much more automatic, I don’t wake up one morning realizing I haven’t done anything in the last few weeks.
Here’s a little bit more on how I approach each category.
With the guest posts, it’s pretty self-explanatory. I have a goal for a few pitches every month. So they get tracked.
Using Streak for this has helped me stay on the ball with these. If I don’t hear back from someone, or don’t see a post published, or don’t get payment, I know to follow up.
I haven’t done a great job of keeping track of guest posts in the past. There have been a few that I forgot to follow up on and see about publishing dates, which means I could have a pretty good post sitting there never being used.
I can also use it to easily see where my work has gone so when I update my website, I can add these brands.
And it works well for repeat guest posts too. Things don’t have to end at one accepted guest post; I make a note to follow up a few weeks later and pitch more ideas.
I use a similar system for potential clients that I do for guest posting. Even if I’ve grabbed a few new clients, I don’t stop reaching out to new ones (lesson learned, remember).
There are a couple of reasons for this, but the main one is you never know who might come around.
If I can grab a new gig with a client that pays a lot more and is a great fit, I’m probably not going to say no. Either I’ll make room in my schedule or give a lower paying client notice that things might be coming to an end.
I also like to keep in touch with both past clients, people I’ve chatted with but didn’t land, and current clients to pitch new work. You always want to keep track of these because sometimes they can be an easy way to get more freelance writing work.
Remember, a one off job doesn’t have to be one off. I always like to go back and offer more content, so this is a very easy way to keep track of that.
When it comes to networking, I’ve found Streak to be super helpful.
My networking method is the opposite of sexy. I play the long game, so it’s slow and methodical. One might say there’s even a bit of client getting strategy about that approach over some of the tactics I get in my inbox.
In the past, I admittedly had a hard time keeping track of these in my inbox, and probably let some good networking opportunities fall through the cracks.
Now, I use the notes extensively so when I go back later to connect again; I can reference what we spoke about. This way, it doesn’t feel like I’m starting from scratch.
Let’s Go Streaking!
There you have it. A look at how I use Streak for Gmail to take care of my freelance pitching and networking needs.
So far, I’ve been thrilled with the setup. It helps me feel confident that I’m consistently improving my marketing and putting in the effort. And the results haven’t been too bad either. 🙂
You can’t ask for much more than that, right?
Are you a fellow Streak devotee? Are you using it in a cool way and I’m missing out on an amazing setup? Let me know in the comments!