So you’re a great writer and want more people to notice this and hire you?
Clients seek out writers who have set themselves up as an important voice in an industry or niche. Freelancers have to cultivate that voice and their writing chops to prove they’re worthy of hiring, and get their work seen by the right people.
The more people in your niche who see your work, the larger your client base will grow – but it’s not enough to just write for your readers.
Here’s the deal: the content you’re adept at writing is for your creative audience, but by only writing that type of content, you’re not quite targeting the people who will pay you to write those articles.
Your future clients are online and on social media – you just have to find them.
The Push and Pull of Being a Freelance Writer
Freelance writers have two core components to their business:
- Creative: Writing about a topic in order to educate and/or entertain audiences.
- Sales: Being the type of content creator that clients want to hire for that same audience.
For example, let’s say you write about pet care. Your creative audience is made up of pet owners. Your sales audience (who will pay you to write the content) may or may not be pet owners – it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they’re owners of pet shops or services or are pet-related marketers. They don’t want to read your article, “10 Ways to Reduce Your Dog’s Anxiety When You Leave the House,” for the tips; they just care that you can write it.
Remember that this is all part of the same package.
Even though these components are different, they’re still linked. You have to write, and you have to market and sell that work – you have to be the person behind the content and in front of it.
You’re always going to serve more than one audience. Why? Because you’re freelance. This is a solo gig. You don’t have a sales department to bring in clients – you’re the sales department.
Always be clear about what you do for a living and who you do it for. This is twofold.
You don’t just write about pet care for dog owners. You work with pet service providers to provide content that their audience of pet owners will value. You don’t just write about business tips for entrepreneurs. You write for leading software providers that help entrepreneurs find ways to grow their company.
Your job is bigger than just one audience.
Give Clients a Reason to Hire You
Here’s the basic freelance writing cycle:
- Find a client or publication
- Attract people
- Rinse, repeat
There are definitely times when a person who can hire you is also the person reading the article you wrote (I’ll get into choosing the right publications in a bit so there’s a greater chance of this). Readers are simply in a different stage of the process than when they become a client. It’s your job to push them through the process and to that next stage.
How do you do that? Give them a reason to work with you.
Express your expertise and knowledge through the articles you write. Say things other writers don’t say. Fill in gaps that competing articles missed. Give real-life examples of when you used a strategy you’re suggesting.
For example, if you’re writing yoga tips, talk about one you personally tried. The reader/potential client will know that you (a) can write this stuff and (b) are actually experienced in it, too.
Create an Online Portfolio
You can have a public portfolio that you direct people to as well as a private portfolio that only you can access.
The public portfolio should be a sampling of your latest, best work. Your private portfolio is basically a collection of all your published work for you to pick and choose from when you need to show a certain side of your work. Details you should include in each are the title, publication name, date of publication and topic. Then you can just grab links when you need to send clients samples.
Here are four more must-know portfolio tips:
- Make it organized and easy to navigate. Visitors shouldn’t be confused by a complicated or cluttered portfolio.
- Link to your social accounts.
- Make sure visitors can share your articles via email or social media.
- Include up-to-date contact information in an obvious spot, like at the bottom of the portfolio or on a “Contact Me” page.
Vary Your Social Media Strategies
Facebook and Instagram users are on there to chill out and take a break. They’re chatting with friends, watching videos and browsing for items to buy (and maybe getting into a heated debate). The point is they’re not there to do business.
While you may not meet many people on these social platforms who want to hire a freelance writer (or who are actively seeking one at the moment), you will find people who want to read what you wrote about a topic. Posting it is a way to spread your work to that creative audience we talked about – and you never know whose eyes your work will end up in front of.
Twitter and LinkedIn are much better for engaging future clients because people who hang out here are in a business state of mind. Twitter definitely has a lot going on, but if you seek out people in your writing niche, you can create a targeted feed and network.
Remember, using social media isn’t an overnight solution. If you need immediate clients, send cold-call emails to prospects or reply to job postings.
Join Facebook and LinkedIn Groups
Plenty of Facebook and LinkedIn groups are built around niche topics, so your target audience is most likely represented somewhere.
Make sure you clarify that you’re a writer in the niche, not another type of professional. For example, if you’re a real estate writer and you’re posting an article you wrote in a real estate-focused group, clarify that you’re a niche writer. Agents won’t hire you to write for them if they think you’re another agent.
Also, don’t mistake your peers for your audience. Writer groups may help with your career in other ways, but you’re not going to land clients there (unless your clients are other writers because you offer coaching or training).
Engage the Social Media Algorithm
Your family may always “like” what you post on social media, but they’re probably doing it out of love for you instead of true interest in the topic. The algorithm thinks that this is your audience, though, and when mom hits “like” on your post, Facebook then shows it to your aunt, brother and cousins. Family’s awesome and all, but they’re not your audience – and they’re not going to hire you.
There are two great ways to combat that:
- Use live video as often as you can. Live video gets a lot of engagement, and social media platforms then reward you by showing your content to more people (i.e., more of your audience).
- Create a Facebook or LinkedIn group instead of simply joining one. You’ll have a front row seat to your potential clients.
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Know How to Engage with Prospects
- When responding to comments or emails, take the time to mention that you work with clients. The person emailing you to compliment you on your article may not even realize you take on other clients. Simply clarifying that you do is a great first step toward working together.
Make your client-facing information easy to find. For example, put a link to your client services page in your email signature.
- Mention that you offer discounts or perks for referrals. Even if the reader doesn’t have a need for a writer, they may know someone who does.
- You’re probably going to mention other industry people in your articles. When you do, share those articles on social media and tag the mentions. They’re probably people you admire and would love to work with, so this is all part of relationship-building.
Choose Clients Wisely
When choosing which publications to write for, think about the following:
- Will you get a byline? If someone likes what you wrote and may want you to write for them, will they know your name and have a way to get in touch with you?
- Can you add a link back to your website in the byline?
Also, write for outlets where your sales audience hangs out. For example, if you write about real estate and you need to bring in clients, publish on websites that real estate marketers read, not home buyers, such as websites that offer marketing advice to real estate agents.
Within the article, you can mention that you also write about real estate, not just about real estate marketing. Your website, which you’ve hopefully linked to in your byline, can have an optimized landing page with an explanation of your services and examples of the real estate copy you’ve written.
Write Guest Blog Posts
Guest-post a few times on one relevant, influential blog, then move on to a new site to expand your reach and build your reputation. If you’re not able to start with a popular website, start small and work your way up as you build authority. To stay in good standing with your contacts, focus on one publication at a time. Don’t simultaneously guest post about the same topic or industry multiple times on various sites.
Writers, Start Your Sales Engines!
When it comes to engaging the target audience, your content should be all about them. When it comes to getting clients, though, you need to create or show them content that is about what you can do for them if they hire you.
Engagement is at the center of closing clients – you can write all you want, but you also have to act as the face of your company if you want anyone to hire you.
Remember, though, that you don’t have to do everything at once. Some strategies you may never do at all. It’s just as important to determine what isn’t right for you as to decide what you should try.
Chances are, your target audience isn’t all in just one place, so you can explore the options.