Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #6: What You Need Up Your Sleeve

Carol Tice

Marketing for freelance writers: Why you need business cards. Makealivingwriting.comToday, I only want to talk about one tiny thing. It’s usually less than three inches long.

But it can have an outsized impact on your freelance writing income.

Have you guessed? I’m talking business cards here, people.

That’s right, the marketing tool that’s older than dirt.

There’s a reason business cards are still around. It’s because they’re useful.

Even if you have no plans to do in-person networking, I want you to get some. (There’s really no excuse since you can get free ones from places like VistaPrint.)

Why do you need business cards in today’s digital world?

Because you never know.

You never know when a casual conversation at your kid’s school will turn up the news that Joey’s dad heads marketing at a medium-sized company in an industry you know.

And then you start fumbling around and scribbling your number down on a napkin? That’s not very pro. And that scribble will be easily lost or mislaid.

And then you open your purse and take out a business card and hand it to his wife? Now you’re talking.

Next, Joey gets that card and sticks it on his desk, where it hangs around for a few months until he suddenly realizes he’s swamped.

He needs a freelance writer. And he doesn’t really have time to look through 300 resumes off a Craigslist ad.

Then he says, “Didn’t I get a card from a writer recently?” He looks around his desk, and there you are.

Most businesspeople keep cardfiles of business cards, so the card allows your info to hang around their office until a prospect is ready to use you.

How to make your business card better

Here’s the thing about most business cards: They’re boring.

When you’re a freelance writer, you can’t let that happen to your business card. That little square of paper is an opportunity to show you are a word stylist.

Mine shows my title as “CEO and Janitor,” which almost never fails to get a reaction.

Linda Formichelli’s says “My clients think I’m swell.”

You want something on there that starts a conversation, and gives a sense of your personality. Otherwise, you haven’t made the sale that you’re a creative writer.

You can also use that often-blank other side of the business card to make your card one that’s never thrown away.

How? Put an offer on it — 15% off your first project, or a free half-hour consult. Whatever makes sense for your business.

Now that card is never hitting the trash — that’d be like throwing away money.

21st Century business cards

Beyond the writing, what can you do to make your business card special?

I use one of the most obvious ways — instead of paper cards, make business-card magnets. Those get tossed onto the front of the filing cabinet and then stay there forever.

The minute you hand it over, people feel the weight and start looking it over. You’ve made an impression.

Magnets cost more than business cards, so I’m saying, “I take this seriously. And I’m not cheap.”

Also, when’s the last time you threw out a refrigerator magnet? They’re so useful!

If you’re really slick, you could put a QR code on your business card that leads savvy recipients to more information about you — maybe a special offer page on your writer website, or a free report they can read.

There are loads of eye-catching new twists on the business card you could try. For inspiration, here’s a great post that’s got 22 different examples of ways to use QR codes on business cards.

Whatever strikes your fancy in business-card style, get business cards. They’re as much for you as they are for prospects.

When you hold those little rectangles in your hand, you can’t deny it — you’re a freelance writer. You have a business. You’re looking for clients.

Now, you’re ready to go out and promote it.

Do you have a business card? If so, share what makes your card stand out.

Need more marketing help? Here’s a place where you can get a bunch…

Join my freelance writer community


  1. Susan B. Bentley

    Cheers for the advice, Carol. I loved Ruth’s suggestion of adding ‘I met Ruth at…on…’ and I hope other people start using that as I’m forever trying to write little reminders of who people are all over their business cards! As for me, I went with simplifying my contact details and adding a business photo, with the hope that people will remember ‘that girl with 60s glasses and red hair’! You never know.

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...