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Monday, November 25, 2013

Market Constantly: The Key to Freelance Success

Occasionally I return to popular, evergreen posts. Marketing is on my mind as I'm going to start a big marketing push in a week or so, as I close in on the deadline for my current ghostwriting project. 
Here's the thing. This project is a full-time endeavor right now, but I know if I don't reach out to new markets soon, sending LOIs, and touch base with former clients, I will be looking at a big gap in work early in 2014. I don't want that. I like to start the year off busy, with plenty of work "on my desk," or new assignments. Talking to freelancers a few weeks ago at ASJA Con Con, I was reminded that even the busiest market constantly
The way you market will depend on the type of work you do, which means that the strategies that work for a freelancer who writes for magazines won’t work for a copywriter whose biggest clients are corporations. You should create your own marketing plan, selecting different techniques that will vary depending on the type of work you do. In addition to those dreaded cold calls, here are ten effective techniques to use:

  • Query lettersIf you write for magazines, whether print or online, a powerful query is your first line of attack. Every query should open with a compelling lead, make the case for the story, show the editor how you plan to approach the topic, and describe why you’re uniquely qualified to write it. 
  • LOIs. Second only to query letters in the freelancer’s arsenal is the LOI, or letter of introduction. You should have a template on hand that you can customize for potential clients, whether you’re contacting a custom publisher, a business, or a potential ghostwriting client. A template you can tweak lets you strike fast if you see a freelancing post or find out about a possible gig. The client will usually hire one of the first qualified responders, so you want to be as close to the head of the line as you can.
  • Your website. You need one. Period. Your website should be designed to attract your primary target clients. If you’re writing for businesses, play up that aspect. If you freelance for magazines, include clips on your site and a list of publications you’ve worked for. At the least, your website should include: a description of the kind of work you do; a brief biography; and contact information. You may also want to list of prior projects or publications or client testimonials as well.
  • Your email signature. One of the easiest yet overlooked ways to market yourself is to create an email signature that describes the work you do. Change it occasionally to highlight different aspects of your business.
  • Satisfied clients. Clients who are happy with your work are one of the best ways to market yourself. Once you’ve proven yourself, ask your editor if she knows of other editors looking for freelancers. If you feel that’s too pushy, at least ask her to pass your name along to colleagues who might hire you in the future. 
  • Article and book sources. I’ve interviewed hundreds of sources over the years, most of who are professionals in the health and fitness fields. I let them know that I ghostwrite and coauthor books, and have had work come through recommendations because of the way I treated a source. 
  • Online job posts. Believe it or not, I’ve found good-paying work through online jobsites like craigslist. Check out, and for freelance job postings. Yes, most of the work is low-paying but there are legitimate gigs to be found if you don’t mind trawling through the dreck.
  • Networking. Hate the word? Put a different spin on it. Don’t call it networking. Don’t call it anything. Just make an effort to create relationships with other humans, help them when you can, and connect. The person you connect with may not be a potential client, but he may know someone who is. The more people who know what you do, the better.
  • One-on-one meetings. ASJA Con Con offered “Personal Pitch” sessions to meet potential content marketing clients this year. If you do a lot of work for businesses, it’s worth it to join your local chamber of commerce or attend other local networking events to introduce yourself to business owners.
  • Social media. Unlike a website, a blog isn’t essential, but it can help you market yourself and your business. Same goes for your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts. Each should contain a brief blurb about the kind of work you do, again targeting potential clients. 
Bottom line is to avoid a common marketing mistake, and one I’ve made in the past. You get busy with work and you don’t market for a while. Then after you crawl out from under your deadlines, you discover that you have to scramble to line up assignments.

That’s why you should set aside time, even if it’s just a few hours a week, to market. That may mean sending out a query or two, touching base with your regular clients, connecting with someone on LinkedIn, or checking online sites for possible gigs. Consistent marketing will make for more consistent work, and consistent money. 

Want more advice? My latest book, Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs, and More, Second Edition (Kindle), includes templates of LOIs that content marketing writers and ghostwriters use, along with sample contracts, nondisclosure agreements, and bids. Don't have a Kindle? Download it here.

***The $0.99 ebook promotion returns! My three most popular short ebooks for writers will be priced at $0.99 for a limited time, including:

  • Dollars and Deadlines' 10 Most Popular, Proven Ways to Make Money as a Freelance Writer
  • Dollars and Deadlines' Guide to Selling Your First Article
  • Dollars and Deadlines' 10 Essential Freelance Templates 

  • If you're new to freelancing, this will be the best dollar you've ever spent! 

    1 comment:

    1. Couldn't agree more. I like, too, for job postings