Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #9: How to Get Free, Targeted Online Ads - Make a Living Writing

Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #9: How to Get Free, Targeted Online Ads

Carol Tice | 13 Comments

Marketing for freelance writers: Advertise online for free.

If I told you there was a way to get free online ads in front of your best target prospects that lasted nearly forever, would you believe me?

Well, there is.

This free-ad scene is a little bit hidden and takes a bit of searching to find the right spot.

But if you can uncover the right place for your niche and know how to get your ad in, you can advertise yourself to your exact target client without charge, for years.

What is this piece of magic?

Let me introduce you to the joys of online resource guides.

Most professional organizations and associations — for lawyers, dentists, naturopaths, accountants, you name it — have an organization website.

On this website, they often have a page of resources for members that help them run their business. A list of web designers, CPAs who specialize in their industry, marketing consultants…and freelance writers.

The trick is sleuthing out where good resource guides for your target market are hiding.

The challenge is that every organization likes to call these pages a different thing.

For instance, for advertising my Freelance Writers Den community, the Writers Market online would be a great place. They have a Paid Services page — many pages, actually — that lists professional service providers such as writing coaches, lawyers, and editors.

You’ll have to scout around to see where you might find a resource directory for the sort of clients you want. If you really get lucky, you may get a chance to list in one where you are the only freelance writer in the directory. Win!

The best thing about resource directories

What could be better than the fact that they’re free? My experience is, they are rarely updated or reviewed.

That means once you’re in, you often stay in for simply ages. Professionals in your niche who’re looking for a freelance writer just keep finding you on their association’s resource page.

Beautiful, huh?

In some cases, the association would like you to make a special offer to their members in exchange for being listed.

In other cases, these type of listings are paid. Even so, it may be worth it to get in front of a hand-picked audience of well-heeled professionals.

Not every association creates these, but if you can find one, reach out and ask if you can be listed. They may want to vet your credentials or get some referrals, they may not.

But you could jump through a hoop or two and offer a half-hour free consult or 10 percent off a first job for exposure like this and it would be well worth it.

If you’ve tried things online such as Facebook ads — which I have — you know you can spend a lot quickly, and not necessarily get a result.

I’d much prefer to be parked on a resource page for years that my top-dollar prospects might browse, at little or no charge.

Need more marketing help? This place is writer-help central…

Join my freelance writer community



13 comments on “Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #9: How to Get Free, Targeted Online Ads

  1. Julie on

    Really nice article with very useful tips! Thanks for sharing this, it was really helpful for me to reach my resolution for the new year, to get a higher traffic to my online business.

    • Carol Tice on

      That Writer’s Market one was free, though don’t know if it still is. Regional associations to me are good targets for the free listings.

      BTW, I know that WD link isn’t working for others — realized I’m able to access it because I’m a member. Hopefully others will report in on open links that are good examples of resource pages.

  2. Corinne on

    Thanks for yet another great tip Carol! I have advertised my services on Craigslist but I have never thought to look for online resource guides

    • Carol Tice on

      I know other people who’ve advertised on Craigslist, which seems to be a great way to attract…the low-pay, bottom-feeding type of clients that hang around Craigslist.

  3. Carrie Schmeck on


    Speaking of being listed, is it appropriate to ask to be listed along with the web designer on sites I’ve written? (You know, at the bottom, usually, where the designer tag is found.)

    • Carol Tice on

      I don’t think anyone thinks to look at the bottom of websites for a writer credit, so I wouldn’t think it’s a great referral engine for writers. People expect to look at the bottom for designers, so maybe it helps them a bit.

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