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How to Market Your Skills as a Freelance Writer
 
 

How to Market Your Skills as a Freelance Writer

Being a good writer will not amount to much if you do not know how to market your skills. You can be a good writer and be bad at self-marketing and not make much money. Likewise, you can be a mediocre writer and be great at self-marketing, which can amount to a lucrative writing career.

If people do not know about your writing skills, you will not be able to get enough work to make a living. No matter the level of your writing skills, to be a successful freelance writer you need to know how to market yourself. In other words, you are self-employed, which means that you need to sell yourself to editors, book publishers, or corporations, depending on the type of work you seek.

Any business that survives will need to do some sort of marketing. Whether businesses engage in advertising, word-of-mouth campaigns, publicity articles, or putting out press releases, they need to tell people they exist and what they have to offer. If they do not, they will not go far.

For example, let us say that you open up a small diner on a semi-busy street. Yet you put up no signage to tell people what you are selling. You also do not do any advertising or promotions of any sort. Sitting there in the diner, watching people walk past the door, you may get a person here and there that walks in. Those who come in are curious and want to see what type of business has opened up in that location. Some may even buy, and you may get their repeat business or referrals from word-of-mouth recommendations. However, your sales will be quite limited because most people do not know you exist. On the flip side, think about how well the restaurant would be doing if you put up a sign outside that said "Sandwich Cafe" and listed some of the items you offered, such as "gourmet sandwiches for every taste." Then you also listed some sales or sandwiches of the day. Taking it a step further, you place an ad for a 20 percent discount in the local paper. You also create a nice Web site that lists your menu, directions, a discount coupon, and more. The latter scenario represents one that likely will bring in a steady stream of customers. And if the food and service is good, they are likely to keep coming back again.
While this example is about a restaurant, the same principle applies to your freelance writing career. Just sit back and do nothing to promote your skills and you likely will not get many assignments come your way. On the other hand, set up a good web site and be proactive in marketing yourself and you should garner many assignments. Then you just need to make every effort to turn out quality work and good service and those editors, publishers, and businesses will come back to you time and again when they need someone with writing skills.
Want to learn more? Take an online course in Freelance Writing.


Ways to Market Yourself

There are many ways that you can get the word out about your writing services. You are in no way bound to follow only the suggestions listed below. Keep in mind, as mentioned previously, that if you think of your writing as a business, you most likely will make more money and get more assignments. Your writing is your business, and now you just need to let people know you exist and what you can do. Here are some of the most effective ways to market your writing services:

Web site. It is important that every writer have a web site. This will serve as your main brochure of what you have to offer. Keep it simple, clean, and professional. Stick with a professional URL (Web address), rather than trying to do something cute. Most writers just stick with their first and last name (www.firstlast.com). What you would want to have on it includes services, clips, a short biography, contact information, and a picture of yourself. You can also include things like testimonials and links. Some writers avoid putting a picture of themselves on their site. This is not the way to go. Freelance writing is an isolated profession; and most of the time when you deal with people, it will be through e-mail and phone. Not having a picture of yourself on your site keeps editors from getting to know you because they can never feel that connection of putting a face with a name. Make your site a little more personable, while still being professional, by putting a picture of yourself on the site. Having a Web site does not need to be expensive. You can easily set one up on a place like godaddy.com for around $10 per month.

Business cards. While they are small, they are a great marketing tool and have been used for decades by businesses. You can order hundreds for around $20 at places like vistaprint.com. Carry them with you and hand them out when you think it could possibly lead to work down the road or to those you want to network with. Also, the first time you send an invoice to a new client or editor, be sure to include one in the envelope. Keep the cards clean and professional and include such things as your name, title, contact information, web site address, and e-mail address, and you may even want to use the back for listing writing specialty areas.

Online sites. You can promote yourself online by joining sites like elance.com, ifreelance.com, or guru.com. You also can post classified ads about your writing services on sites like craigslist.com.

Biography line. A good way to get the word out about your services is to also include information about it in your biography, wherever it is allowed. If you write an article that will be used online and you are allowed to have a short bio, use that to offer a plug for your service or site.

Word of mouth. If you do good work, you are likely going to get some business from word-of-mouth marketing. Mention to your repeat clients to keep you in mind if they know others looking for writing services. Networking can be an important method of getting your name out there and building your reputation as a solid writer.

Mailings. Especially for those writers who are looking to do corporate work, you may want to consider mail. Sales letters, postcards, and brochures can all be cost-effective routes to getting your name in front of businesses that may need writing services.

Other ways. Some writers engage in blogging about writing or their specialized subject, while others attend conferences and meetings to network. There are many ways you can promote your services; just be creative and keep looking for opportunities.

Building Your Portfolio



In the freelance writing field it is important to build a portfolio . A portfolio is simply a nice collection of your work that can be shown to other people, should they request to see it. Sometimes editors or business hiring managers may want to see your portfolio. It is also nice to have on hand in case friends and family want to see what you do for a living. Many writers create the portfolio using a nice binder from the office supply store. Even if you have a paper version like this, you should also have one on your Web site.

You do not necessarily want to put everything you have ever done in your portfolio. Instead, pick and choose pieces you feel showcase your best work. If you do a variety of types of writing, it also is a good idea to include an array of pieces so you can show your range. For example, if you do a little magazine and corporate writing, your portfolio should have some clips and samples from other work you have done, which may include press releases, brochures, or other pieces.

Getting Clips

Most magazines are pretty good about sending out the clip, or tear sheet, from the page your article ran on. Some may even send the entire magazine, rather than just tear out and mail that one page. Other magazines are not so on the ball about getting them sent out to you. If you have lots of clips and it is not a big deal to you, do not worry about it. If you have a limited clip file or think that a particular piece is something you would like to add to your portfolio, contact the editor and ask her or him to send it to you.

When it comes to businesses that you may do work for, you will need to request a copy of the finished product. For example, if you write the copy, or text, for a company brochure, it is likely that someone else will be doing the graphics and printing work. Just contact the person who gave you the assignment and ask him or her to send you a copy of the finished brochure for your portfolio.

Clips on Your Site

Having clips available on your site is a great way for potential employers to get a sample of your work. You can either scan in such work, find copies to download off the Internet, or provide links to articles of yours on the Internet. Any of the methods will work. Start by having a page on your site that is either referred to as writing samples, clips, or your portfolio. Then try to add a variety of pieces of work to show your range. This way, employers can look at your site, see your clips, and get an idea of what you are capable of.

Freelance Experience

At this point, you may be scratching your head and worrying about where to get clips if you are new to writing. This is understandable, and it is a little bit like which came first, the chicken or the egg. Editors and employers want to see samples of your writing before giving assignments, but how do you get samples without first getting assignments? There are things you can do in order to have some writing samples ready and displayed on your site. For starters, consider these routes:

  • Write a couple of articles or press releases on your own and post them to your site. Even though they have not been published somewhere, it still will show your writing ability. You do not and should not ever advertise your lack of experience. Always portray yourself as a professional.
  • Write an editorial or letter to the editor and, if it gets published, include it in your samples.
  • Include any sample writing, regardless of how old it may be, or where it was done. If you took a writing class and had to write an article for an assignment, you can include that. You do not need to advertise that it was for a school project. The goal is to show you can write, and doing this will accomplish that goal.
  • Write one or two articles and submit them to an article database, such as articlebase.com. Even though the pay is very low, it can serve as a verifiable writing sample.

Educational Experience
A question that often comes up in the writing field is whether you need a degree. No, you do not have to have a degree to become a writer. However, you should realize that there are many places that will prefer or even require it. This is not usually the case with magazines when freelancing, but many businesses may be interested in your educational experience.

While a degree is not mandatory to be a successful freelance writer, it can help you in some ways, such as with employers that require it. It also can be helpful with knowing more about a subject, critical thinking skills, and just more overall experience at research and writing. If the degree is in a writing or communications area, it can be even more beneficial to the freelancer. If you ever decide to take your freelance writing experience and try to get hired as a writer for a newspaper or magazine, you may find that a degree is required.

Even if you do not go all the way to earn a degree, taking courses like this one will help with your knowledge on the topic. You should always consider advancing your education, even if it is with courses that do not count toward a degree, and always include them in your educational experience on your resume and/or Web site.

 
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