I’ve been a freelance writer for six years and in that time I’ve tried a lot of marketing tactics. Some have been successful and some haven’t worked so well.
One thing that trips up many new writers is looking for that one perfect way of marketing their writing. Another bad move is to focus all of your efforts bidding for low-paying jobs on freelance bidding sites and/or writing for content mills. You’ll be so wrapped up in low-paying work that you won’t have time to go after higher-paying jobs.
I’m going to share some of the top (and sometimes surprising) ways that I’ve found freelance writing gigs (hint: no freelance bidding sites!). Some of these methods are definitely tried and true while others are random things I’ve tried that paid off.
- Letters of Introduction (LOIs)
I’ll start with the tried and true because LOIs are really one of the best marketing methods if you want to write for trade magazines. Most of my clients have come from sending out simple letters of introduction to editors. I write a lot for trade magazines and LOIs launched my magazine writing career. It really is the easiest way to find trade magazine clients. My trade assignments bring in between $.40 and $1 per word and all it took was an introduction.
Take Away: Be sure to combine both LOIs and query letters into your marketing mix. Also try mentioning in your LOIs that you’d be happy to send story ideas too to let editors know you’re willing to brainstorm article ideas.
- Cold Calling
I’m not a phone person. So cold calling isn’t my favorite way to market my business. But on some occasions, it’s necessary. I picked up the phone when I couldn’t find any contact information for a career website I wanted to write for. I got in touch with the editor and to my surprise he was looking for a writer with experience writing about minority career issues — experience I had. I went on to write many articles for him over the next few years netting me $300 per 500-word article (much higher than the content mills).
Take Away: Pick up the phone to connect with editors.
I randomly decided to update my LinkedIn status one day to announce that I was now providing blogging and tweeting services. One of my contacts sent me a message requesting more information. A few emails and an in-person meeting later and I had a regular blogging and tweeting gig for a local college. This job lasted for six months and resulted from an innocent LinkedIn status update.These types of copywriting gigs allow you to name your price (versus accepting whatever a magazine pays per word). You can quote an hourly rate (like I did) or use a flat rate.
Take Away: Be sure to keep your social networks informed about your current projects and services.
Craigslist has a bad rap when it comes to freelance jobs. So I decided to post my own ad. I was shocked when an Internet marketing agency in New York responded with an offer to blog two times per week for one of their clients. I got $30 per hour to blog. Not bad from a free ad.
Take Away: While all the other writers are replying to ads, try posting your own. My ad included a short bio, a list of writing credits/specialties, and a link to my website. You will no doubt get some spam and/or job offers that sound less than appealing. But you never know unless you try.
- Regular Job Ads
Even though you’re a freelancer, periodically keep your eye on “regular” job boards for freelance opportunities. I landed a major freelance copywriting gig with a non-profit by applying to an ad on a local employment website. Again, with copywriting gigs the great thing is that I was able to name my price. So whatever your current copywriting rates are, you can use those when quoting the project.
Take Away: Don’t dismiss regular job boards. You may just find a great freelance job.
Denene Brox is a freelance writer based in Kansas City and specializes in career development and health topics. She is also the webmaster of Freelance-Write-Now.com, a site that teaches beginners how to get started in freelance writing. Read more of her tips for finding freelance writing gigs. She blogs about career and personal development at www.my-year-to.com.
Interested in contributing a guest blog post of your own? Check out the guest blogger guidelines.
Image courtesy of chanpipat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net