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. Renée

    My best advice is attend networking events and keep filling that pipeline. Just last week I received a call from someone who had been referred to me at a networking session back in March. We had one call and nothing came of it so I put this potential client out of my mind. Needless to say I was pretty thrilled to have this client contact me and offer me a nice plum project! In that same week, I also received a call from someone who said they got my card at a recent event and would like to know about my services. You just never know… A note about networking, though: be selective about where and with whom you network. Smaller events make it easier to work the room and avoid places where there are likely to be more job-hunters than business owners and decision makers.

  2. Doc Sheldon

    Good stuff, Carol! I suppose it’s just human nature to always look for the easy way to achieve our goals. As a few have said, there IS no silver bullet, yet there are people out there eager to break out their credit card for any “easy” offering.

    Personally, I’ve chosen to limit my marketing efforts to word of mouth, and it’s served me well. The vast majority of my business comes to me via referrals, and with only four of us writing, that’s enough to keep us busy 7 days a week.

  3. Katherine Swarts

    That “no one thing works for everyone” may be the best job-seeking-related comment I’ve ever heard. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s nearly had a nervous breakdown over the “mass-telephone-cold-call” approach that so many recommend. With all due respect to Peter Bowerman, who launched a major freelance writing business in six months with that technique, I’m a writer and I feel much more comfortable approaching potential clients in WRITING–traditional queries, “cold call” e-mails, social networking, etc. Actually meeting people face-to-face at networking events helps, too: joining the local Chamber of Commerce and at least one other professional group (those with small-business foci are best for one-person writing operations, especially if you hate the high rates and red-tape requirements of corporate-oriented organizations).

    One approach recommended particularly for job seekers (freelance and otherwise) who struggle with people skills is found in the book “Developing Talents,” by Temple Grandin and Kate Duffy. Summed up, the key points are: don’t waste time envying those who can sell themselves naturally by force of personality; build up an impressive portfolio (or collection of samples) that by itself showcases your skills as irresistible; get to know (and listen to) people who know the business and know people in the business; develop a solid mental picture of what exactly you want to be doing; and concentrate on back-door opportunities rather than the hugely competitive world of job ads. (The book was written for those whose lack of natural people skills is due to actual disability–i. e., certain forms of autism–but the approach itself has potential for many others.)

    • Carol Tice

      Temple Grandin is so awesome, isn’t she?
      But she cuts right to it — if something sounds wretched to do, it’s probably not the marketing format that’s going to be for you.

      Others love the mindlessness of not having to research companies and just picking up the phone. You can get a lot of reach-outs done quickly.

      Personally, I’ve never done cold calling, I prefer warm emails. So that’s what I do. The trick is to experiment, find out where your marketing comfort zone is, and then WORK IT.

  4. Gip

    I like the idea of contacting at least one new prospect every day. I’m not nearly organized or motivated enough to contact 10 before 10, but doing one per day would mean that the wheels are always turning.

    The best way to market yourself is to keep trying, I think. In fact, “keep trying” seems to be the answer to most of life’s problems.


    • Carol Tice

      Right on, Gip. Early on, for my ebook I interviewed Nathan Hangen, who told me about blog monetizing, “Don’t give up before it pays off.” I think about that quote nearly every day! Applies to everything in freelance writing.

  5. Joseph Putnam

    It’s super easy to waste time looking for a shortcut when the answer is that it just takes time and effort. I come across this with businesses as well.

    Some of the businesses I work with expect their website to be a silver bullet that attracts thousands of customers with zero effort. The reality is that a website is one tool in the marketing tool box. Often cold calling can lead to more customers than putting money in the slot machine named Google AdWords, but a website is a critical complement for cold calling since most customers will also want to check out a companies website.

    So I agree: It’s more important to keep trying to find out what works than to spin your wheels attempting to divine what the best way will be without actually experimenting. 🙂

    • Carol Tice

      That actually IS how you divine the best way…by DOING it.

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