The One Best, Easy, Cheap Marketing Method for Freelance Writers

Carol Tice

Of all the questions I get asked about freelance writing, there’s one that comes up over and over again. It’s about marketing.

The question takes many forms — here are a few I’ve gotten recently:

What’s the best way for a beginner to start making money?

What’s the best, inexpensive way to market effectively?

What would be a good first step for marketing one’s writing talents to online markets?

What sort of marketing activities can you do if you have very limited time to jump-start a freelance writing career?

What’s the number-one step for someone wanting to begin a freelance writing career?

When telemarketing for work, what’s the best script to use?

What’s a good way for new copywriters to get clients?

How do you find the editors who will hire you?

Ultimately, all these questions are really the same question:

Where is the shortcut to freelance writing success?

Isn’t there one quick, easy, trail around the mountain and down into the valley of great-paying clients that I could show new freelance writers, so that marketing is a snap and they earn big money real fast?

Not that I’ve discovered.

Why? Because every human being, you may have noticed, is different.

The best way to market your writing depends on you.

What sort of writer are you? How brave are you? How willing to put yourself out there? Are you too shy to cold call? Hate parties? Love to schmooze on the phone? Don’t have time to craft individual marketing emails?

Who you are — your life experience, the types of markets you want to write for, your level of drive and commitment — plays a key role in determining your marketing strategy.

There is no one best telemarketing script that works for all occasions.

There is no single marketing method that is fast and easy and works like a charm for everyone who tries it.

What’s quick and effortless to me in marketing might be time-consuming torture for you.

Anyone who’s promising you that if you just pay them big bucks they can teach you their no-fail marketing system — I think they’re full of it.

Yes, you can — and should — learn about different marketing techniques and what’s working today. But then, you need to go out and try some of those methods and see how you feel about doing them, and how they work for you.

And when I say try, I mean a lot. For three to six months, full out. I don’t mean send a half-dozen tossed-off queries and then conclude querying just doesn’t work.

The best type of marketing for you is the type you are willing to do, and keep doing.

Stop wondering where the shortcut is.

Start marketing your business.

That’s the only way you’re going to find out what marketing works for you. For every writer, it’s going to involve some trial and error.

My experience is most writers waste way too much time worrying about the best way and spend way too little time trying some way — any way at all is better than continuing to plan how you might market your business at some fuzzy future date.

Personally, I found answering Craigslist ads very inefficient in getting good clients, while adding key search terms to my writer website and LinkedIn profile was well worth it. In-person networking rocked, too.

What will you discover? You won’t know until you get out there and market your writing.

What’s your best marketing method right now? Leave a comment and fill us in.


Image: Stock.xchng – ba1969


  1. Tom Bush IV

    I am a 76 year old man with the advantage of having several vocations and interests.I enjoy writing short non-fiction stories. i believe my stories have a market in “niche” magazines.
    I don’t imagine writing unsolicited submissions with SASE to an editor is very effective.

    Thjere are so many magazines on the market, there must be multiple opportunities to get my writing accepted (and paid for)

    Any suggestions appreciated.

    Tom Bush

    • Carol Tice

      You probably want to grab a copy of The Writer’s Market, Tom, for help researching markets that accept the type of articles you write.

      And yeah, we mostly email our queries these days. There are definitely plenty of paying markets out there, so dive in and take a look!

  2. Thea Easterby

    Hi Carol
    This post has got me thinking. I have made the biggest marketing mistake of all – not doing any. The question – how brave are you? – jumped out at me, which speaks volumes.
    Time for me to get cracking on that score.

  3. Brendan McCrain

    Here’s an idea:

    Deliver a great product or service and treat your customers right.

    As far as I’ve witnessed, in my own career and in the businesses I’ve worked with, this is THE secret to success. As a freelancer, I find that this philosophy can be applied to anything, including (especially) your marketing.

    Make your marketing itself a service to your clients. You’re trying to make their life easier right? So do it right off the bat by focusing your marketing efforts in directions that benefit the client from day 1. Why should they have to search for you through clearinghouses with thousands of writers or do something so old-fashioned as respond to an ad by calling you. How can you make it even easier to hire you than writing an email or responding on LinkedIn? Can you create a service that is already benefiting them before they ever write you a check?

    Carol, how many of your Den-folks were reading your blog and applying your strategies before they signed up? All of them, I’d bet. Perfect example of putting your service exactly where the customer needs it, so “working” with you is a formality, you’ve already developed the relationship.

    Next, treat your customers right. Not enough people do this, even though everyone says they do. Treating customers well isn’t a strategy. It’s just being good people. We all know how to do it.

    Oh yeah, give people free things. It’s easy to spend so much mental effort on demanding fair fees and feeling confident charging what you’re worth, that you can forget to give breaks where they are due. Any client who has work for you every month and doesn’t haggle you too hard on your rate, deserves a comp here and there.

    Why? Because they’ll tell everyone about you. Very early in my career I found a small graphic design studio with a few clients and a small budget. I cringed and took some tiny fees to build my portfolio and crossed my fingers hoping I wasn’t screwing myself. Today, they’re my biggest client and I get every penny I ask for on every project and most of our clients come back in 3-4 months for more services. I hardly have to market at all because I treated ONE client right.

    There are thousands of ways to prospect but there is only one way to be you. Be really good at that and we’ll all be rich.

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