When you look at your bank account at the end of the month, do you want to scream in frustration? Do you wonder why after working so many long hours there is so little reward?
You’re not alone. As freelance writers, because we only get paid for the time we spend writing for clients, everything else we do is an administrative cost. The hours you spend querying publications, combing through the job boards, or working LinkedIn can eat up a significant chunk of your (unpaid) time.
But they don’t have to.
By streamlining your marketing with the following tips, you can escape the marketing time suck and use the time that you freed to make money instead.
Focus on recurring income
Certain kinds of writing can lead to repeat business. Take blogging for instance. Blogs require new content on a regular basis in order to keep their readership engaged. If you can land a few blogging clients you can get steady income that you don’t have to hustle for every month.
Another example is writing for newsletters. With the popularity of email marketing, many businesses send out weekly or even daily newsletters to their clients. Someone has to write these articles, so why can’t that be you?
These types of high volume writing gigs allow you to work on retailer. (That is, an ongoing contract where the client commits to pay you a fee for a certain amount of work every month.) It is guaranteed money and it benefits both you and the client. You can rest assured that every month you have a certain amount of money coming in, while your client can breathe easier knowing that his writing needs are being taken care of by someone dependable and familiar with his business.
Utilize inbound marketing
Imagine a world where clients come to you instead of you fighting to get their attention. Welcome to the wonderful world of inbound marketing. Here you create great content that gets read by your target clients who then contact you asking you to create great content for them. You can write anything from blog posts and special reports to white papers and case studies.
There are several keys to this strategy. First, you must make sure that you write content that your target client is interested in reading. If your prospective client is in the finance industry for instance, then write content related to that niche.
Next, make the content available where your prospect is likely to find it. Keeping with the finance industry example, this could be finance blogs or magazines. Lastly, make sure that after wowing your prospects with your writing you let them know you’re a freelance writer and give them a clear way to contact you. Many people use a short bio after their writing for this purpose. A ‘Hire Me’ page on your blog is another good way.
Case in point: Demian Farnworth, an expert copywriter found himself talking to numerous prospects after publishing just one guest post on Copyblogger.
Last year one single blog post on Copyblogger generated more business for me than [my other efforts] combined… I found myself on the phone or in email exchanges with CEOs and founders for companies like Hubspot, KISSmetrics, Treehouse and Stripes39. In fact, I routinely turned down work as a freelancer because the demand was so high.
— Demian Farnworth, expert copywriter
Encourage word of mouth advertising
We’ve all experienced the power of word of mouth advertising in our daily lives. You buy a product and are so impressed by it that you rave to all who would listen. They then buy it, love it and rave to their friends who in turn buy the product as well.
The company who sold the product didn’t have to do any extra marketing to garner these extra sales. What they did do, however, was create a product so wonderful that they turned a customer into an evangelist for their merchandise.
You can do the same for your freelance business. Just ask blogger Angie Mansfield, who harnessed this powerful strategy to land her a $1000 writing gig. How exactly did she accomplish it? Simple. She asked an extremely satisfied client for a referral.
Need more proof? A Nielson 2012 online survey found that 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.
Don’t let your contacts grow cold
People like to do business with individuals they know and trust. According to Marketing Metrics, it is 50% easier to sell to existing clients than to brand new leads.
As a savvy freelance writer, you should strive to stay in your contacts’ radar. Make sure you always have a pool of ideas you can pitch to the various publications you write for. As soon as you finish an assignment, pitch another idea. This works for rejections as well. As soon as you get a rejection, propose the idea to a related publication and send the original publication another pitch.
Templates are your friend
You can save a significant amount of time by creating templates for your marketing activities. These boilerplates can be customized instead of writing everything from scratch.
For example you can create email templates for when prospects ask for rate sheets and clips. You can have a bio that you tweak slightly for each query letter that you write. Customizable templates also work well in Letters of Introduction.
There you have it. Five ways you can slash your marketing time and focus on the paying part of your freelance business—the writing. What do you think about these techniques? Do you have any others to share?