Interested in freelance writing? Opportunities for freelancers abound.
Of course, there are pitfalls. Many can be avoided if you know what benefits you provide your clients, and how to get known to prospective clients.
A big tip: it takes time to build a freelance writing business; you need to become known for what you do. So, although there are more opportunities than ever, you need to be patient.
When you market your freelance business, focus on education: what you do, why you do it, how it fixes clients’ problems.
Freelance writing: they don’t know they need you
I suggest you focus your marketing activities on educating prospects, because:
- A potential client may not know he has a problem;
- He may not realize that the problem is solvable; or
- That you can fix the problem.
Let’s look at four savvy ideas to get freelance writing gigs—fast.
1. Job ads: rewrite them before you respond (seriously, please do this)
Before you respond to a job ad, rewrite the ad, in your own words.
Sounds pointless, right? You’re thinking that this is a complete waste of time…
Here’s why you rewrite job ads and requests for proposals (RFPs) in your own words:
- It gives you time to think, and to develop questions. Always, always ask questions when you begin working with someone. Feeling shy? Ignore that, and ask;
- So you don’t miss important elements of a project and under-quote.
When I hire writers to work on projects, I know that I can whittle 50 pitches down to one possible (or none at all) in a few minutes. Instead of responding to the project brief, writers respond to their own interpretation of the brief: they’re not paying attention.
When you respond to a project brief, you must be 100% certain you know what the buyer wants. What challenge is he trying to solve? Then you need to tailor your pitch to meet that challenge.
2. Choose a niche you love, and get known in that niche
The best freelance writing jobs are never advertised, therefore if you want to get higher paying jobs, create pitches, for a specific niche.
Firstly, what’s a niche?
A niche is a market.
From Shopify, on the value of niche markets for anyone selling anything (you’re selling your writing services):
Carving out a niche market and positioning yourself as the go-to brand for a specific audience not only establishes your credibility over competing generalists but also results in a more focused business.
If you pitch yourself as a generic “freelance writer”, chances are you’ll end up with low-paying jobs. As soon as you can, choose a niche.
Occasionally, a niche may choose you. For years, I wrote for heavy equipment manufacturers; I didn’t choose that niche. One client recommended me to someone else and before I knew it: hey presto, I had a niche.
Next… Pitch early, pitch regularly, and never stop pitching.
What’s a pitch? Pitches are queries: proposals. You’ll pitch publications and companies for which you’d like to write.
3. Craft a mission statement and bio (but keep the mission statement to yourself)
Why write a mission statement? It’s necessary, to keep yourself on track. The statement you’ll create isn’t a jargon-filled, cynical mess of pointless verbiage as most mission statements are.
Here’s how to create it. Write down in 250 words exactly what you intend with your writing career.
For whom do you want to write? Why do you want to write for them? What skills and abilities do you have? How much income will you make?
You create a mission statement so that you can get clear in your own mind on exactly what you offer. I promise you that if you devote half an hour to this, it will do amazing things for you.
Create a bio, in several forms, too.
… (your bio) is written to entertain, as well as inform. Although it’s written in the third person (you refer to yourself as “Jill Smith”, rather than “I”) an executive bio is written conversationally: it sounds like your voice.
Use your bio anywhere and everywhere: on your website, on social media, on press releases and other marketing materials…
4. Develop your freelance writing website: it’s your silent sales person
Your website sells YOU 365 days a year. If you don’t have a site, create one.
Use the questions in this article; the questions are applicable to freelance writers as well as authors.
So, there we have it. I hope these ideas help you to succeed in your freelance writing career.
This book will help you if you'd like to write more, more easily.
If you already have a writing career, but feel that you're not living up to your potential, this book will help you, too.More info →
The challenge for writers today is that we’re competing in a global marketplace. So, when you rely on job websites like the freelance marketplaces to get gigs, the race is to the bottom. The buyers want cheap writers, and the cheapest bid wins.
You can avoid becoming a commodity: learn to pitch. Get wonderful clients and charge top fees.More info →
Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.