3 Ways Smartphone Apps Can Help Writers Get More Gigs

Carol Tice

by Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

As the mother of three, my smartphone is often more useful than my husband when it comes to entertaining the children, reminding me to administer antibiotics and making dinner reservations.

As a writer, my smartphone is indispensable when it comes to generating business. It is my prospecting team, my marketing team and my administrative assistant all rolled into one.

Here are three ways I use my smartphone to help my writing business:

1. Find new clients

Subscribe to coupon services such as LivingSocial or Groupon to learn about businesses in your area that are trying to attract new customers. Chances are, if companies are working with deal sites, they have money for promotional activities and have some clue that using new technology will help them improve business.

If you would use the service anyway, buy the coupon. Evaluate their current online strategies and content and look for ways to offer enhancements with your writing. Do they lack a great newsletter? Is their blog sadly out of date? Could a professional biography of the owners or founders make their business stand out from the crowd? All of those projects need freelance writers, and it could be you!

I recently purchased a LivingSocial pass for a summer golf camp for my son. After seeing the quality instruction they offered and exploring their website, I planned a quick conversation with the camp owners after a session and suggested we meet to discuss their promotional strategy for the coming year. They are now eager to work with me for both their golf camp and football camp!

2. Get more work from existing clients:

QR codes are going to open up a world of business for freelance writers. Businesses can generate their own QR codes and customers can scan codes using smartphones to access phone numbers, email addresses and more importantly, text codes and website URLs.

A QR code allows customers to easily scan the black-and-white square — like you see above — and access the associated content without having to remember, jot down or type in complex web addresses or numbers. This means businesses need to have quality content waiting at the other end of the QR code – content that you can write.

How can you translate this into more gigs for you? I have created my own QR code using QRReader and printed it on my business cards and project proposals. I teach customers how to scan the code and gain access to a special offer on my website. I show them how easy it is to provide detailed information and high quality content using cutting edge technology.

3. Let prospects to view your portfolio — from anywhere

If you’ve ever had a chance encounter with a potential customer, you’ve probably wished you could carry your portfolio everywhere. But that’s just not practical. That’s why you need Dropbox, which allows you to easily share large files. Dropbox is on my iPhone, my iPad and my laptop. One folder in my Dropbox account has my best writing samples. I don’t have to type in my web address, I just open the app and show my potential customer something great.

At a recent networking function, I mentioned I write biographies. A professional photographer approached me after the meeting, saying she’d try to visit my site to view my work. I opened my iPad and selected a great piece from my Dropbox folder. The file also contained the shortened biographies my clients now use on their LinkedIn and Facebook business pages. The photographer was impressed that I had such a handle on technology and could quickly and easily share my samples. We are currently negotiating for her needs.

Are you using QR codes in your writing business? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan, owner of Sweet Tooth Communications LLC,  is a freelance writer and social media consultant in Pittsburgh, PA. She writes on parenting, health and fitness, sports and healthcare issues. She blogs about her family’s mistakes and masterpieces at Try It & You May.


  1. Terri Huggins

    I have to completely agree with you on number one. I cannot begin to tell you how many potential clients I’ve gotten after shooting them a quick email after reading their Living Social or Groupon deal. After signing up to so many deal sites the amount of emails you receive can get annoying but its definitely worth it if it means a new client may come your way!

  2. Susan

    There are some excellent ideas here! In fact, I’ve had gigs wehre I actually wrote the offer for daily deals sites, so that can be a nice steady source of work. However, businesses generally pay nothing for those offers upfront (the deals site only gets paid once customers buy and they take their cute), so it doesn’t necessarily mean they have a ton of money for promotions. Doesn’t mean they don’t, of course.

    And I love your idea about QR codes! I got an email from a colleague yesterday and she used a QR code in her email signature, which I thought was brilliant! Really positioned her as a forward-thinking freelancer.

    • Elizabeth

      Hi Susan – I’m glad you found the QR code in the email innovative, I had some people say it seems redundant. Typically it’s used to connect people from hardcopy printed material to online material. One thing to consider – if someone’s scanning a QR code, they are using a smartphone. Lots and lots of writing is hard to read on a smartphone screen, so make the content targeted and easy to read in a small format!

    • Lexi Rodrigo

      Excellent suggestions! I’m feeling better now about how much my smartphone costs 😉

      I do have the same thoughts as Elizabeth about putting a QR code in an email signature. Wouldn’t it be much easier to put a hyperlink to a landing page?

      Anyways, thanks for making me think of new ways to use technology to find leads and clients.

  3. Linda

    Wow Elizabeth. This post has given me new ideas I’ve never considered. So useful!

    • Carol Tice

      That was my reaction too — I’m not a high-tech person (my joke is my next blog will be called The Last Adopter), and I thought these were some innovative marketing ideas!

  4. Susan Springer

    Great ideas! I printed a QR code to my website on my business cards. I think it brings an “old fashioned” marketing tool into this era. Plus there’s a wow factor because people have seen the codes but haven’t necessarily used them yet. Make sure to look at your site on a smartphone to make sure it’s sized properly to be viewable in the smaller format.

  5. Mandy Harris

    Those are great tips. Makes me start counting down the days until I’m eligible for an upgrade discount. Almost got one last time.

    The daily deals idea is a great one that I’ll start using right away.

  6. Ruth - Freelance Writing Blog

    Wow – all thinking outside of the box suggestions! Thanks.

    I’m going to read through my Groupon updates with a different perspective in mind now. Thanks for the tips.

    • Carol Tice

      I KNOW! I loved this post, just stuff I had never thought of before.

  7. Jennifer Roland

    I love the idea of using QR code on biz cards and proposals. I just printed my business cards, so those will have to wait a bit, but adding a QR code to a proposal with a targeted offer can help you close. Great ideas, Carol!

    • Jennifer Roland

      Of course, after posting my comment, I realized this is a guest post. So, great ideas, Elizabeth!

  8. Elizabeth

    Thanks all – I think associating with such talented writers on Make a Living Writing really stimulates creative business marketing! Also…my perspective is the counterpoint to Carol, I tend to be an Early Adopter (& techie optimist).

  9. Sheen Edward

    I guess I need to get that QR code of mine.Looks like I need to maximize my smartphone’s capability. Thanks for sharing this techie news.

  10. Carrie Schmeck

    Thank you for three more reasons I can use to justify getting a smartphone!

  11. Laura

    NotesDeck syncs all notes from Evernote and Dropbox and Simplenote (!!!) so all my notes from other apps are already in it. And they show up on all my devices instantly (iPad, Mac and iPhone).



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