10 Ways to Promote Your Freelance Writing
Long-time freelancers approach writing as a business, and they market it that way too. Not all freelancers do the same kind of marketing. Some have Websites. Some have blogs. Some belong to writers’ groups and regularly attend conferences to meet with other writers and editors.
There are so many ways to promote yourself it’d be easy to get carried away and have no time left to write. So have a plan. If you’re new to the business, take baby steps, like starting to use an email signature. If you already have a Website, blog and newsletter, consider adding a podcast or planning to attend a convention. There’s no right way to market yourself, just the way that works for you.
Here are 10 ways freelance writers can market themselves:
1. Use your email signature. In addition to listing basic contact information, an email signature can point people to your Website, blog, newest book and anything else you want them to know about you. Learn more in this post about using an email signature.
2. Create a Website. Use a Website to display your resume, clips, bio and any other selling points you think might be important. Include a picture so editors can match a face with a name. Some freelancers pay to have Websites hosted and designed for them. But you can find cheap or free Websites at places that cater to writers, such as Mediabistro, or general business sites such as LinkedIn.
3. Start a blog. Writers use blogs to market themselves in different ways. Some blog as a way to keep their writing skills sharp. Others blog about a particular subject they’re interested in. On his WriterBiz blog, Erik Sherman regularly reviews freelance contracts. Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell uses her blog, K.C.’s Write for You to interview authors. Still others have blogs to create a platform for books they’ve written or are writing.
4. Create an e-newsletter. Like blogs, freelancers use e-newsletters to different ends. Some writers’ newsletters play up their expertise in a certain area, such as Marcia Layton Turner’s newsletter on writing, Become a Six-Figure Writer, and Sandy Beckwith’s newsletter for authors, Build Book Buzz. Other writers use e-newsletters to keep sources, editors, friends and family in on what’s going on in their work life.
5. Start a podcast. I wrote a story about podcasting recently, and learned that if you stick to the basics, they’re not that hard to do. If you’re interested in learning more, listen to this podcast interview I did with Peter Brusso, an Orange County, Calif., consultant who produces podcasts for sole practitioners and other small-businesspeople. It’s a 25-minute Q&A that covers things like the equipment you’ll need, how to come up with topics, where to host a podcast and how to drum up publicity.
6. Network. These days freelancers can network online or in the real world. Online, you can join professional networks such as LinkedIn to cultivate sources, keep in touch with current and former colleagues and redefine how you present yourself to the world. In the read world, you can attend writer-only networking events like the all-media parties that Mediabistro holds around the country, or similar events sponsored by business groups in your area.
7. Join writer’s groups. Sometimes freelancing feels like solitary confinement, so it’s great to hook up with other writers, whether in person or online. My favorite isn’t really a group at all. It’s Freelance Success, a subscription-based Website and newsletter with a very active discussion forum. There are scads of groups for writers, including American Society of Journalists and Authors, Online News Association, American Society of Business Publication Editors, Society of Environmental Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the list goes on and on.
8. Attend conferences. Go to writers’ conferences to meet other freelancers and editors: it’s a great way to showcase what you do, and come back feeling reinvigorated about work. Many writer’s groups mentioned above have annual meetings, and Freelance Success is cooking up its first annual gather, which will take place later in 2008. If you cover a certain topic or field, there’s no better way to meet sources and promote yourself than attending a professional conference or industry convention. The work’s hard, the crowds are brutal and your feet will hurt by the end of the week, but your bank of new contacts and story ideas with runth over.
9. Visit editors. Since I just started writing again after a long hiatus, it’s on my personal to-do list this year to visit editors I write for regularly. I’d have to fly, so this would be a big unreimbursed business expense. But it’d be worth it if face time with my existing clients led to more work, and if I could set up meetings with new-to-me publications while I’m in the area.
10. Be the best at what you do. Be the go-to writer editors love working with. Stick to word counts. Double check grammar and spelling. Write your own headlines; even if you know they won’t be used, it shows you’re thinking. Turn in stories on time. Turn in the story the editor was expecting, or if you run into trouble, let them know well in advance, not the day it’s due. Be willing to do the little extras that editors appreciate, like getting a source to email photos.
Ultimately, you could do all kinds of marketing, but for any of it to work, you’ve got to back it up with your writing.