Stop us if this sounds familiar: You’re a freelance writer who is confident in your skills, but you can’t seem to find the kind of work you’re looking for. Maybe you’ve taken a few jobs, but you haven’t found any consistent, high-paying work, or perhaps you’ve tried to put yourself out there, but it seems like no one is biting.
What are you doing wrong? Is writing for a living just not for you?
Don’t give up hope. You can launch your writing career with some simple marketing strategies.
If you are a freelance writer for hire, you need to make use of marketing. When you start promoting yourself, you get your name out there and help people interested in your services find you.
Like a business marketing its products, you need to treat your writing as your brand and sell it. Turn your career into your brand and connect with people who want to hire you.
Here are seven ways to promote yourself and land great freelance writing jobs.
1. Have Examples of Your Work
Would you hire someone to photograph your wedding if they had no pictures posted? Worse, would you hire someone who only posted blurry pictures taken from a phone camera?
The last thing you want on your big day is to have the moment ruined by an incompetent photographer with their thumb in the frame!
When you hire someone, you want to know they’re going to do a good job. Hiring a freelance writer is no different.
People interested in your services want to know that you are a quality writer above all else. If they don’t know how well you can write, they’re not going to choose you over people with dozens of high-quality samples. They’re also not going to hire you if your samples are unpolished and full of typos.
Make sure you have well-written samples you can show to potential clients. This inspires trust in you as a writer and gives them a reason to choose you instead of the competition.
How to Write a Sample
There are a few general rules to follow when making writing samples.
First, it’s better to create original content for your samples rather than using previous orders. This ensures the content is entirely your own, which minimizes the risk of copyright issues.
You should also make sure your samples are a good representation of the kind of content you want to write. People are more likely to hire you if they see you’re knowledgeable in the content area they care about. Write for the crowd you want to attract.
Samples should be long enough to give readers an idea of your writing style and quality. Two samples of 500-1,000 words are usually more than enough.
Finally, review your samples for any typos or grammar issues. You want to put your best foot forward; don’t give potential clients the wrong idea by sending them sloppy work.
2. Know What Niches You’re Comfortable With
Clients want to find writers who are comfortable in their niche of choice. If they want to hire someone to write business-to-business marketing copy, they’re probably not going to hire someone whose samples are all about keto and Mediterranean dieting.
On the other hand, you could be exactly who someone is looking for if all they want to write are cookbooks. Having these highly specific examples could lead them to choose you over someone who only seems passingly familiar with the topic.
Your niches are your areas of expertise. They tell clients what topics you can write about, which helps them choose you over other writers.
Identifying Your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Interests
What do you enjoy writing? What do you feel you excel at? It’s possible to write about a topic you’re not familiar with, but it’s going to be a struggle.
Your niches should represent the topics you care about and the ones you have fun researching. Try to focus on these topics and steer clear of any niches you have zero experience with unless you’re willing to put in the time to learn.
Generally, clients prefer specialized writers, and it’s easier for them to find you if you specialize too.
Pick a Niche for Your Writing Career
Specializing in a niche or two helps you build your brand. You will stand out from the crowd and find work more easily.
Wherever you choose to market yourself online, search results play a large part in helping people find you.
If you wanted to hire someone to write your cookbook, how would you look for them? You probably wouldn’t use vague search terms like “excellent writer.” Instead, you might use specific terms like “cookbook writer” or “keto diet freelancer.”
When you write for a specific niche, you make it easier for people to find you. You can advertise yourself as a “white paper copywriter” rather than just a good writer. This helps potential clients find you and reassures them that you will do a good job.
3. Use Social Media and Websites to Your Advantage
Digital marketing strategies are key to successfully promoting yourself as a writer. Posting on social media sites and making a website can help clients find you.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is a great place to market yourself. Thanks to trending topics, hashtags, and shareable posts, it’s easy to promote your services no matter what site you use.
Don’t be afraid to connect with others in your industry as well, whether you’re on LinkedIn or Twitter. Look for like-minded people who might need content in your niche or who can connect you to potential jobs.
Make Your Own Website
Making your own website is worth the investment. Your website gives you a completely customizable place to show off all of your work. It is a single link you can give to people to show them what you do and why you would be a good choice.
On your site, you can add your writing samples and showcase your previous work. You can also display contact information and your rates.
Try using specific keywords on your site to rank higher in search engines. This is known as search engine optimization (SEO). Improving your SEO drives traffic to your site and helps you get noticed.
If you have your own website, consider investing in business cards. They are a cheap way to easily share your website with others and drive more traffic to the site.
4. Maintain Your Portfolio
A blank website isn’t going to hold anyone’s attention for long, so keep it updated with your portfolio.
Your portfolio is a way for potential clients to see all of your past work. It can include links to websites where you have been published along with a small blurb describing the type of content. This lets site visitors see your work at a glance and lets them know if you are a good fit for them.
Tools for Portfolio Writing
You don’t need to be a coding expert to have a clear, visually appealing portfolio. There are plenty of online sites and programs that will help you create a portfolio that’s easy for visitors to navigate and shows off your work.
Each site has its own pros and cons. Something like Squarespace can help you set up a website in a few easy clicks, but it’s not specifically geared toward making writing portfolios. Clippings.me is a great portfolio service, but it lacks a few of the bells and whistles offered on other sites.
Try a couple of different options until you find one you like. Choose the portfolio program that best showcases your work.
5. Learn How to Market Yourself as a Writer
Marketing your work is only half the equation. The other half is marketing yourself.
Marketing yourself means connecting with people in your niche and becoming known as the go-to person for a certain topic. It means giving your content a friendly face and learning how to pitch yourself.
Two great ways to achieve some notoriety in your field are networking and community writing events.
Networking is just as important in the writing industry as it is in any other business. The more people you know in your area of interest, the more likely you are to be recommended for work.
You can increase your chances of getting noticed by having a reputation for high-quality work and a pleasant attitude. If previous clients are happy, they’re more likely to recommend you when their friends are looking for writers.
Before long, you won’t have to chase after potential jobs. People will be contacting you and asking you to work with them instead.
Participating in Community Events
A great way to network is to get involved in community events. Look for local meetups for writers in your area, or check out writing conventions. These are great ways to meet fellow writers and potential clients alike; just be sure to bring your business cards!
If you want to flex your writing muscles, writing contests and events are a good place to start. One especially popular choice is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which runs every November, but there are plenty of alternatives to suit any writing style.
At the very least, these events can help you add to your portfolio. More often than not, they will expand your network too. Discussing these events on social media can help you connect with fellow participants and exchange contact information.
6. Keep Up With Trends
Keep a close eye on market trends related to your niches. These trends show you what people are buying and what niches are profitable. If people are reading content in these areas, you can get them to read your content as well.
Remember that you never need to write something exclusively because it is trendy. You should primarily write about topics you care about, but you can capitalize on trends too as long as they are also interesting.
People who find your trending work and enjoy it are more likely to stick around and read some of your other work. Just getting your name out there helps you build a larger customer base.
7. Keep Sharpening Your Skills
All the marketing in the world can’t help you sell bad writing. If you want your results to be worth all the effort you’re putting into marketing yourself, you need to put just as much effort into the content that is at the heart of your freelance business.
The better you become at writing, the happier your customers will be. You will get more recommendations, especially if you are willing to take constructive feedback and improve your work accordingly.
How to Keep Improving
Even the best writers can keep improving.
There is no shame in attending writing classes or seminars even if you know your writing is good. These can teach you writing tips that will help you refine your skills, and you’ll almost always come away with some new information you can try out in your work.
Look for feedback on your work too. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas in need of work so you can remain at the top of your game.
Sometimes, improving is just a matter of practice. Keep your writing skills sharp by using them frequently, even if you’re not working on any jobs right now. Write for yourself, rewrite your samples, or write work you can publish online to get your name out there.