I don’t know a single writer who started really understanding just how important marketing is. I know I was surprised. I sort of expected to either land an agent who would make me famous or be recognized by editors who would contact me for articles. It simply doesn't work that way.
For example, I remember asking my first agent how I could get in the top 10 percent of writers. His response shocked me.
“Anne,” he said, “you’re already there.”
And he was right. I had several books under my belt and could generally get most of my articles placed with the magazines I targeted. But I wasn't yet making a living! I've since found my way by working with individual clients that need writing.
That doesn't mean working with clients is the only way to make a living writing, but even when you have books published etc. unless you get a huge best seller or become famous in some other way you’ll still have to market yourself and your writing. And the chances are, if you become a best selling high income earning author it will be because you marketed yourself. The days of publishing houses and agents handling all the marketing are long gone.
Before I detail the four ways, remember that Lori Widmer has an excellent ebook book called Marketing 365: Daily Strategies. Buy it and do one suggestion a day – you’ll find several techniques that work for you – continues those. There’s also a whole category on marketing for freelance writers right here .
Your own website
I want to shout this one. You simply must have your own website. You need one because it’s where people who want to pay you for your writing are looking for you.
It's not rocket science to get your website up yourself.
You need your own domain name. The domain name is how people find you. It's also known as the URL or Uniform Resource Locator. Technically, it's prefaced with https://www. and ends with .com, .net, .biz, etc. The domain name here is AboutWritingSquared - you can see it displayed in the address bar at the top of your web browser. I use BlueHost (affiliate link) to both buy domains and host my sites.
If you can get your own www.name.com that’s the absolute best. It makes it easy for you to tell folks how to find you, and people will often try your name in Google when they want to find you. If your name isn’t available consider adding writer or freelancewriter to the end, or try your using last name first. I bought AnneWayman.com years ago, but you may be pleasantly surprised to find you can still capture yours.
It's also best to use .com since that's the extension most people are familiar with.
Domain names are sort of like car registrations. You need to renew them every year unless you buy a multi-year package.
You also need a host. A host is where your website is actually stored so it can be served and found 24/7. Good hosting can be as low as $5 a month or so, usually paid annually.
I’m a strong believer in using WordPress or other widely available content management system because they make it easy to set up and then update how your site looks. BlueHost has a one click install of WordPress that makes it super easy. And WordPress is free.
Yes, WordPress is best known as blog software and I’m NOT suggesting you start a blog. Rather use WordPress to create your professional site because it will be super easy to change when you want to – and you will want to update your site from time-to-time. That updating is one reason it's called content management. AnneWayman.com is actually built using WordPress.
If you hire someone to develop your site for you insist on WordPress or some other content management system that makes it easy for you to do the updates. Be sure you get all the passwords and get a lesson or two so you can update your own site when needed. There’s nothing worse than waiting for someone else to put up new information, and paying them to boot.
On the other hand, Lori hates WordPress and uses https://www.weebly.com/ for her site. It's a template driven site. It's free and certainly worth considering.
Business cards help you feel like you’re in business and give people you meet in the real world a way to get back to you. Your card should make it clear what you do and how to reach you.
Yes, you need cards even in this highly connected age – you’ll find you can hand them to someone you meet in a networking group, on the train or even at a party. If it’s got your website and contact info the person you just met will find it easy to contact you.
VistaPrint is a good way to get cards cheaply. Even their free cards with their logo on the back can work well.
Pass out business cards freely. Stuff them in any envelopes you use to pay bills. When you pay for a meal, include your card. The idea is two-fold: every time you hand someone your card you’re affirming you’re a writer to yourself and you simply never know who is going to need your services. Pass out enough cards and someone will.
Social media accounts
Properly used social media will help you build a community of writers and clients. Start with Twitter, add Google+ then develop your LinkedIn profile well and finally, add either yourself or your business to Facebook.
While you need to participate in social media these days, it shouldn't be the focus of your marketing or your time. I suspect 30 minutes to an hour two or three times a week will do it. Much more than that and you’re probably avoiding writing.
LinkedIN also has writing groups and writing job postings. They can be worth exploring. Just a word of caution – participating in the groups there can become a real time sink. Don’t make them a priority.
It’s also worth noting that social media changes all the time. New services are introduced all the time, the way an existing service works changes – it’s never ending.
Be slow to jump on the new – pay attention. You don’t want to miss something that’s worthwhile and you don’t want to waste your time with something that won’t last.
Stay in touch
Staying in touch with past clients and editors is a real key to future success. Most people love to help, and that's true of your clients. Touch base with them every quarter or so, reminding them you're in business and asking gently for referrals and/or new assignments.
Of course, this means you've got to find a way to keep ex client info - Outlook can do it. So can a simple list of names, addresses, emails and phone numbers.
Try a newsletter or postcards, a phone call or mix it up.
Assignment 5 - Get your website started!
Get your domain name or bounce domain names off us in the forum.
Pick a host. Decide if you're going to use WordPress or something else. Ask a ton of questions - it's not rocket science, but it is techie.
The goal is to get a simple site set up now!
If you're serious about freelance writing you need a website. The sooner you get a simple site up the sooner it will start working for you. Posting means you're able to learn how to do this from writers who've done it.
Forum link: Get started on that website!