To make money, you need clients who are willing to pay you for your work. In freelance writing this is often done by pitching yourself to potential clients—pitching story ideas to publications, approaching businesses you’d like to write for, replying to callouts—but there are also things you can do to encourage clients to approach you.
The core of marketing is about letting the right people know that you are available to hire for particular types of work. Marketing is the process by which you ascertain who your audience is and where they are most likely to see your advertising. Advertising is the process by which you let them know that you are available to hire. Both marketing and advertising are required in order to be successful.
Here are some things to consider when marketing yourself and your business:
- Create a marketing plan
A marketing plan is a document that lays out everything about your business, how you promote it, and the time you’ll put into promoting it. It should include information like:
- What are your business goals? (How much money do you want to make? What sort of work do you want to do? What sort of hours do you want to work?) This will drive everything else that you decide to do so it’s important that you figure this out in detail
- Who are your target markets? Are they individuals or business? Do they know they need a writer? Do they find people online or in the newspaper? What are they searching for? What content do they read? What do they need? Remember: it’s likely you’ll have multiple target markets so be specific and create as many as you need rather than trying to fit everyone under one banner
- What’s your expertise? What makes you unique or desirable as a writer? Why would someone want to hire you over someone else?
- What are your rates? Do they change and, if so, why?
- What money do you have to spend on promoting yourself? What’s your budget?
- How will you promote yourself? When will you run advertising and where? Who will you pitch to, how often, and when? Do you have promotional materials—graphics, flyers, bookmarks, gifs?
- How are you going to measure your success? Is it by the number of jobs you receive, the amount you earn, the types of jobs you’re doing? How often are you going to check in on these metrics?
A detailed marketing plan can help you to understand exactly what you have to offer and who to offer it to.
- Consider your website’s function
We’ve already discussed the value of a website earlier in this series, but you also need to keep it up to date and consider what it’s use is. A website is essentially a marketing tool; it’s there for people to find you, to see what you do, and to be convinced to hire you. It should therefore include things like:
- A portfolio: a list of your other clients (big names attract other big names!), links to where your work has already been published, and any appearances or interviews you’ve done that are relevant to your work
- A blog: While a blog may feel like an extra unpaid task on your schedule, it is a place where you can prove your expertise. You can use your blog to talk about what’s happening in your niche, to talk about current trends in your areas of interest, and to engage potential clients. If you consider it part of your marketing plan, it becomes easier to make time for it
Your website should also include basics like who you are, your rates or pricing for various jobs, and a contact form.
- Think about your social media
There is a difference between your personal social media and your business social media and you need to keep them separate. Your business social media should focus on the topics you write about, it should be an extension of your website that proves your expertise. A few things to think about on your social media:
- Which audience are you speaking to on which platform? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. all have different demographics and different groups using them. Think about who you are speaking to and what they want to hear. Cater your content to them
- Use the words ‘for hire’ in your bio and have a link to your website so that they can find your rates. Make sure you check your various message inboxes daily in case people contact you through your social media to inquire as well
- Social media is social, that means you need to talk, and you need to respond to others. Follow the brands or publishers you want to write for and comment on their posts. Be thoughtful and insightful in your comments.
- Advertise properly on social media. DO NOT use the ‘boost’ functions on your posts. Actually create proper ads. All social media sites have a proper ad-creator and they are normally very easy to use. Ad-managers on social media allow you to tailor who sees your ads based on things such as gender, age, location, interests etc. Know your market and use these tools accordingly
- Keep your portfolio updated across these platforms. Post links to your work on your social media so that people can see what you can do, but don’t make these the only posts you put out. As we said above, social media needs to be social
Social media marketing can be hugely effective if used correctly and can help you reach a whole range of potential clients. However, remember not to bog yourself down with too many socials. Pick the ones that are relevant to your target market and only take on as much as you can handle effectively. It’s better to do one platform well than to do five of them poorly.
- Network with other freelance writers
The day will come where you have too much work to take on another job and when that day comes most freelancers will make a referral. Being a part of a network of other writers within your field means not only that you can help others find work, but they will also be able to refer their clients to you.
Networking doesn’t always have to be with writers writing on the same topic as well. Someone may be approached to write about a topic they know nothing about and may instead recommend you in their place.
And as we’ve said before in this series, networking is just a lovely way to reduce the isolation of being a freelance writer.
- Use an email signature
This may seem simple but ensuring your name, title, website, social media, logo and contact details are on the bottom of every email ensures that people know who you are and that you are available for hire. This keeps your brand and your name in your clients’ minds at all times.
It may all seem like a lot to consider, but by sitting down to create a marketing plan when you’re first starting out and then enacting it, you increase your likelihood of success and ensure that any money you do spend on advertising is money well spent, not wasted.