What Advertisers Can Teach You About Marketing Your Writing: 3 Success Tips

Carol Tice

by Jennifer Carsen

Regardless of what kind of writing you specialize in, there’s a lot to be learned from the world of advertising.

After all, if you can’t get your name out there, and convince potential clients that you’re the best person for the job, it doesn’t really matter how good a writer you are.

Here are three sure-fire ways to boost demand for your work:

1. Ask “What’s In It for Me?”

This is one of the very first things new marketers are taught: Your audience doesn’t care at all about you.

They care about themselves—their desires, needs, and problems. Accordingly, your website and other marketing materials should appeal to these instincts:

Bad: “I’ve been passionate about writing since the age of 3, armed with a wide-rule notebook and a blue crayon…”

Better: “My rewrite of your home page will highlight your company’s unique strengths and bring in valuable new leads for you.”

2. Target a highly specific niche

Gerber doesn’t advertise its strained peas on the front page of the New York Times. That would require wasting a whole lot of money to get in front of millions of people who have no interest in strained peas (i.e., people who don’t have small children at home).

Instead, they target markets aimed at new parents. Similarly, you should not try to be all things to all people on your writing website.

Highlight your specialties. You may feel that this limits your potential opportunities, but it actually has the opposite effect of attracting the exact people you want to write for.

Think of it this way: If you need heart surgery, and you have the choice of a heart specialist or a generalist who does just a few heart surgeries a year, who are you going to pick?

Bad: “If you need it written, I can write it!”

Better: “I specialize in writing blog posts and feature articles in the areas of food, fitness, and travel.”

3. Spotlight your testimonials

You can talk about how great you are all day long—but what’s really compelling is when other people talk about how great you are.

It’s pretty easy to get testimonials from previous clients. Assuming they were happy with your work, all you need to do is ask.

Testimonials are most effective when they’re specific and believable, so don’t try to clean up your clients’ words too much.

Also, if you’re just starting out, don’t forget that even non-paying clients can provide you with great testimonials—maybe you did a bang-up job on the flyer for your son’s school fundraiser, or a volunteer newsletter.

Bad: “I’ve been told I have a real way with words.”

Better: “The brochure Joan wrote for us led to a 4% increase in sales last month. We were thrilled with the finished product and found her very easy to work with.”As long as you make a consistent effort to focus on your clients’ needs, and demonstrate how you can effectively meet them, you’ll always have a steady flow of work.

What do you say on your writer website about your services? Leave us a URL so we can check it out.

Jennifer Carsen is a writer, blogger, and blog consultant who helps writers and other solo professionals build a following of raving fans. 

55 Comments

  1. Sara

    wow. awesome blog site .. never seen such blog .. thanks a lot for sharing such a unique stuff ….

  2. Amruta Marwah

    Hi Carol and Jennifer,

    I have been following your blogs and tweets and the advice you extend really helps with writing and organizing my thoughts and my blog better.

    I have a major problem though, that I haven’t found my niche yet. I like science blogging and that is something new I am trying, but I started off just blogging about random stuff. I like to write about a variety of topics, and am still not sure if I have a niche area. Although, I have been contributing to some dailies in India about cultural differences in US and India, but that is not something I write all the time.

    If you could please take a look at my blog, and give feedback, that would be great. Also, if you find time to read the blogs, and think that I could have an underlying niche, please guide me with respect to that.

    Any other suggestions and recommendations are more than welcome. Hearing form professionals and experts like both of you really pushes amateurs like me, towards improvement.

    Thank you for your time,
    Amruta

    • Carol Tice

      The thing about using your blog as a writing sample, Amruta, is that all prospective clients want to see you understand niche blogging. For good-paying work, it’s all niche writing, not “write about whatever you want.” So they want to see you can develop and execute many posts on the same topic.

      You can certainly pick a niche — just pick one! Science is certainly a great niche area. If you have some knowledge in that area.

      Just know that ultimately, which niche you blog on isn’t that important — I’ve gotten gigs blogging about surety bonds off my writing blog, for instance. You can show your topic expertise in other work samples you’ve done, and your blogging expertise on your blog…if that makes sense.

      Pick a topic you’re passionate about and can see yourself developing many post topics for…and maybe one you could develop or sell products in in future, so that the blog might become its own income stream.

      I see in your bio you’re a microbiologist! You should GO for the science niche in writing…it’s a good paying one.

    • Amruta Marwah

      Thank you for your suggestions and advice, Carol. It will definitely help me with working devotedly towards finding my specific niche in science. Your expert advice about science blogging will surely provide me with the confidence to venture into this area.
      As for the topic expertise and blogging expertise, did you mean that, maybe I could have topics within my blog and then write more posts about certain topics?
      Also, about developing or selling products on the blog, I am not sure how that would work for a science blog.

      If it is not too much to ask, could you please take a look at my science blog, and see if something like that would help me be better at niche blogging. I am still working on finding better sources for material, so there is not a lot of content on it yet.
      http://biomilieu.blogspot.com/

      Looking forward to your suggestions,

      Thank you again for your time,
      Amruta

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Amruta —

      If you want a lot of advice on your blog, I recommend joining A-List Blogger Club …they are the headquarters for that sort of thing. You can read about my great experience there on that link.

      What I was saying is just pick one niche and blog on it. You don’t need to have a bunch of sub-blogs on different topics. It’s hard enough keeping up one blog, I say!

    • Amruta Marwah

      Thanks Carol for the great suggestion! I will check out the A-list Blogger Club to improvise on my blogging skills.
      And I completely agree about keeping up one blog being more than enough 🙂

      Thank you for your valuable advice,
      Amruta

    • Jennifer Carsen

      Hi Amruta–

      Thanks for inviting us to check out your site. I agree with Carol that it’s important to just go ahead and pick a niche–you can always change it later if you want. Also, in the beginning stages of blogging, it’s putting the cart before the horse to worry too much about how you’re going to monetize it. (If you’re really intent on making money online, there are easier and faster ways to go about it.) Find something you really love writing about first, and then go from there. Also, I would remove the creative commons and no-copy mentions from your sidebar–they add clutter and don’t serve any real purpose (they also contradict each other to some extent, as the creative commons encourages sharing, while “no copy” does not!). Good luck with your blog!

  3. Janine Boldrin

    I’ve recently redesigned my site and would love some feedback. I think I have to improve on my testimonials. With transitioning to a new design, I’ve had a little bit of a learning curve on how to update and add, but I think I’m finally at a point to add more (if necessary). I try to keep current articles posted – – which reminds me, I need to update my clips page again! Thanks for the look….

    • Carol Tice

      That’s quite a nice site you’ve got there, Janine! And an interesting writing niche.

      Just one comment I’d make is it’s very hard to contact you through this site, as all you have is a fill-in contact form. How often do you like to fill those out, and how confident are you when you do that someone will really respond? Yeah. Me too.

      What you want to do is kill that contact tab and get a real email — and ideally phone — into your sidebar there, so it’s visible on every page.

    • Janine Boldrin

      Thanks Carol! Definitely! I never thought of adding an email address to the sidebar for each page. I’ll do that this afternoon. And thanks for taking the time to look at the site. I’ve enjoyed following you on Twitter, plus I get a lot of great info. I can put into action from your blog.

    • Jennifer Carsen

      Hi Janine–

      I took a look at your site as well, and I don’t really have anything to add beyond what Carol’s already said–I love how narrow your niche is; that’s a great strength you can use in your marketing (not to mention your SEO efforts).

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Using Storytelling Elements as a Catalyst to Spread Your Content - [...] That right there, my friends, was Rob Eager’s way of drawing you in with a story in order to…

Related Posts

You CAN Write a Query Letter That Gets a “Yes”: 5 Resources

Freelance writer getting a gig after learning to write a query letter.

Love them or hate them, queries are one of the most important marketing tools for any freelancer who wants to write for magazines. And the skills you learn from writing a good query letter also help business writers and copywriters pitch their potential clients.

If you’ve been sending queries off into space and never getting a reply, you may think it’s impossible to break into new magazines. But it’s not true! Editors are always looking for new talent.

To help you learn to write a query letter that will get you the gig, we’ve pulled together a collection of five of our best posts on pitching:

Can’t Write? Try These 9 Ideas for Writing Motivation

It’s the bane of every freelance writer’s life: You know you need to sit yourself down and get some writing done, but nothing happens. The writing motivation just isn’t there. Sometimes, you can't even make yourself sit down with the computer -- even if you...