It’s every writer’s dream: Great clients just call you, out of the blue, and ask you to write for them.
You don’t have to look at job ads, go to networking events, or make cold calls.
Think it can’t happen? I know it can, because I haven’t had to actively market my business for over a year now.
Marketing-types call this “inbound marketing.” In other words, the gigs just flow in, rather than you having to go beat the streets for clients.
How does it work?
You need a strong online presence, so those great clients can find you, check you out, and decide you’re the one they want.
Essentially, you’re going to build a network of information online that draws clients to you.
It takes a little work, but it’s so worth it.
You don’t need to be a search engine optimization (SEO) genius, either. You can start getting found by taking a few basic steps.
Here are the elements you need:
1. A strong writer website. We talked about writer websites already in this series, but it’s worth repeating. Wherever else you’re seen online, prospects are going to trail back to your website to read your work.
So get as many great clips on there as you can. And make sure they can read them, without having to download anything.
Most importantly, stuff your writer website with words prospects might use to search for you. If you take a look at my tagline, you can tell what I’m trying to rank highly for on search.
You may not believe that putting a key phrase in your site’s headline or tagline can possibly make a difference with all the websites out there in the great, big Interwebs. But it really will.
You won’t believe the quality of clients that are using natural search to find writers, either. I’ve been hired by several Fortune 500 companies now off searches on Google or LinkedIn for writers in my city.
To help your writer website pop up high on searches for freelance writers, keep updating your site. I have a “favorites” sidebar I like to put new articles into, to keep refreshing my content. If it’s a slow month, I try to find a static page to rewrite a little.
Many writers have their blog hosted on their writer website, which is another way to keep adding content.
Tweeting your article or blog post URL adds another link back to your site, which helps, too.
2. A strong LinkedIn presence. Fully fill out that bio and stuff your profile’s tagline with search terms. Mine says “award-winning writer, blogger, copywriter, and writing mentor.” Those are the gigs I’d like to do more of, so I’m helping people who need those types of writing and mentoring help find me.
Make sure your LinkedIn profile links to your writer website, or offers a portfolio of clips right on LI.
Also fill out the “skills” tabs available on your profile with the writing types you do. Skills are basically another way for search engines to help prospects find you.
3. A “hire me” tab on your blog. Especially if your blog is your main online site, it’s critical that you put a up a “hire me” tab that spells out to visitors that yes, you are available to write for others. I know more than one writer who has immediately gotten good-paying offers after adding a “hire me” tab.
4. Consider more profiles. While you might not want to bid against the universe for gigs on Elance, oDesk or Guru.com, it can be good to have a profile posted on heavily trafficked, highly ranked freelance portals. I call this strategy “lurk, don’t work.” When I got an ebook-ghostwriting nibble from one quality prospect, I discovered they had come across me from a Guru.com profile I’d put up years ago and forgotten.
5. Keep updating everything. What keeps your website and LinkedIn profile ranking well is continuous updates. Try to get on both your profile and your writer site once a week and change something. Do a status update on LinkedIn once a week or so that talks about a writing assignment or challenge you’re facing. Answer a question on there. Participate in your groups. Keep expanding your connections (with people you know, not everyone who sends you an invite.) Tweet a link back to a clip.
Yes, it’s a bit of work to create and update your website and LinkedIn profile — but not much. Once your site is up, you shouldn’t need to spend more than 15 or 20 minutes in a typical week.
Is that more work than developing customized prospecting emails, or sitting through those Chamber luncheons? I don’t think so.
And there’s nothing like the feeling you get when the phone rings and a prospect says, “I saw you on LinkedIn, and was wondering if you have some availability to write for us.”
How are you using inbound marketing to find writing clients? Leave a comment and tell us your approach.
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