Blog reader LC had this question about the writing business: “what can I do to promote myself more so work starts coming in steadily.”
Let me illustrate with examples from my own writing career (I’m concentrating on the 7 years of writing online and not the many years of journalism that preceded it).
In the Beginning Was the Pitch
In my early online writing career, I submitted a lot of bids and pitches, but that can be a lot of work for little return. What worked for me was signing up with a copywriting agency that had regular article requirements. That meant that I didn’t have to pitch for work – I got regular emails about available opportunities. Even though I was still competing with other writers, the pool was much smaller, with only a few offered each job. These days, writing for online content providers (like CopyPress, Skyword, TextBroker and others) can provide the same income stability. And in some cases, you even get bylines for your work so that you have some good clips to show to prospective clients. I still do some work through one agency, just so there’s some steady income, though it’s no longer a large part of my work.
Passion and Promotion
One of the other things you need to discover is both what you are good at and what you enjoy writing about. Then take steps to get yourself known for writing about these things. I marketed my services before I even knew what marketing was. I did this first through my own website, where I included PDFs, links to work and more. Your website is the hub for your online promotion efforts. And there are a lot of writers out there, so it’s not just enough to put a clip up, you have (at least in the early days) to give it some context. Talk about what you did as a way of highlighting your skills. if you are ghostwriting, then list the types of projects you have done so you don’t break confidentiality requirements.
Where are Your Clients?
But, don’t confine yourself to your website because at the start people won’t know you exist. You need to connect with other writers who will get to know you and put excess work your way (I work with a couple of writers whom I’ve known for years and we are always helping each other out.) Even more importantly, you need to identify your potential clients, find out where they hang out online, and engage with them there. This will almost certainly mean building a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter and may involve joining a forum. Look for opportunities to be helpful and the rest will follow.
Where you have bylined work, claim Google Authorship if the site allows it, so people will associate your picture with your content – it builds trust. And use a portfolio display solution like Contently to give your clips some pizzazz (not to mention a whole new bunch of search engine entries for your name – more is more!) Link to that from your site and in your email signature, then every email is a potential marketing tool.
Once all that is in place, all you need to do is keep it updated.
If my experience is anything to go by, over time clients will start to find you. Articles that I have written for Unbounce and Crazy Egg have brought new clients my way. And working with editors for one writing project has made them consider me for others. That’s the sweet spot for every freelance writer.
Experienced writers, care to weigh in with your thoughts on this?
Image: Theresa Murray