Looking for marketing strategies for your freelance writing business—strategies you might enjoy?
Start by thinking about what you love about your writing business. Perhaps you enjoy being your own boss. Maybe you enjoy working from home and spending time with your kids. I enjoy the writing itself; it’s both fun and challenging.
What you love about your business helps you choose your marketing strategy: either inbound or outbound. You can combine these strategies of course, but if you dislike marketing, choose the one you’ll enjoy.
Marketing strategies for freelancers: inbound and outbound
Choose the strategy you enjoy: hunt gigs, or get clients to come to you.
Outbound marketing involves proactively reaching out to consumers to get them interested in a product… inbound marketing centers on creating and distributing content that draws people into your website.
In summary: in outbound marketing, you approach prospects; in inbound marketing, they approach you.
Although there are dozens of marketing tactics you could employ when you use these strategies, I’m focusing on two: the freelance marketplaces (outbound), and visibility marketing (inbound.)
1. Get hired on the freelance marketplaces (outbound marketing)
As freelancers, we were part of the gig economy long before it became fashionable. In 2021, the “gig economy”—project-based, short-term work—is huge, worldwide. It’s growing too, at around 17% per year.
Depending on how it’s measured, the gig economy was estimated to be at 40% of US workers in 2020, with similar numbers in other western countries. According to Statista:
In 2023, the projected gross volume of the gig economy is expected to reach 455.2 billion U.S. dollars.
As the gig economy has grown, so have the freelance marketplaces.
Some freelance writers love these sites, others hate them. The big challenge is that when you’re bidding on projects on freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Freelancer, you’re competing with freelancers around the globe.
Some bidders will enter low bids, because the cost of living in their economies is cheaper. Be aware of this, and enter bids which work for you.
Focus on setting up your portfolio on each site, and create good proposals. Before you know it, you’ll have a rating on your chosen freelance marketplace. At that stage, winning projects will become easier.
Be aware it takes lots of time to get traction on these marketplaces.
New, smaller freelance marketplaces: as the gig economy grows, so do your options
I’ve noticed lots of smaller freelance marketplaces popping up over the past couple of years. Some are agencies, others are cooperatives.
These smaller marketplaces are country-specific, so check local forums, and do local searches on the search engines.
Gig hunting not your style?
No worries. Focus on inbound marketing: visibility marketing.
2. Visibility marketing: it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you (inbound marketing)
In freelancing, your name gets passed around. After you’ve been writing for a while, people approach you: you get the majority of your gigs via word of mouth.
Before you’re in the happy situation of getting daily approaches from people who want to hire you, write for websites which get traffic to become visible.
Many publications and websites pay writers; they’ll give you a bio, which links to your website. (Yes, you need a website, more on that in a moment.)
You can also write free guest posts for blogs you enjoy. When you guest post, you’ll usually get a longer bio, with a couple of links.
By the way, be aware that links are the currency of the web. When you complete a project for a client, be sure to ask for a link, as well as a testimonial. The more links you get to your website, the more traffic you’ll get, because your site will move up higher in search engine rankings.
Yes, you need a website: start slowly and grow your site
When I suggest to a freelance writing student, “You need a website,” they tend to cringe. Yes, creating a huge website will take you a lot of time, but you don’t need that when you’re starting out. Start with a single page.
Broke? Even if you have no budget, a site like Wix lets you create a simple website for free. When you’re making decent money from your writing, you can opt for a paid plan to grow your site.
Inbound or outbound marketing strategies? Choose a strategy you enjoy
Marketing your freelance writing business is essential, and it’s vital you choose the strategy you (mostly) enjoy. Otherwise you won’t do it.
So, have fun with your marketing. With the gig economy growing ever larger, there’s never been a better time to be a freelance writer.
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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.