I often hear from freelance writers who say they suck at marketing. They hate cold calling! They’re too shy for in-person networking! Prospecting — ugh! Social media marketing — who has the time!
They look at online job ads, and then complain about how crummy most of the advertising companies pay. They’re stuck writing for low-pay content sites…because, well, they just hate marketing.
Recently, I realized there’s one form of marketing these writers probably already do very well. Here’s how you do it:
Do an amazing job on every assignment you have, for every client you have right now.
Your best form of marketing is always creating really stellar writing, each and every time out. Some important reasons why:
1. Repeat business. Exceed expectations and be ready with more story ideas or copywriting project proposals, and your existing clients will keep using you. That’s a lot less work than having to pitch and get one-off assignments from a long string of different clients. Who needs to prospect when you’ve got a steady stream of work coming from current clients?
2. Referrals. Editors get together and dish about who’s a great writer. They ask each other who to hire. Small-business owners go to chamber networking events and talk about tradespeople they use. If you’re outstanding, you’ll get mentioned. Presto! New clients without you having to cold-call anybody.
3. Better clients. Your awesome clips are your ticket to the big time. Write a sharp advertorial article for a startup, you could be writing one next for a $1 billion company. As it happens, that exact thing happened to me, so I know it works. I also got my first staff writing job for a trade publication — at a really substantial salary — off $100 article clips I wrote for the L.A. Reader. Every once in a while, I meet a writer whose strong clips on a content site got them a good-paying private client. Even in an environment that has a generally bad rep, outstanding work can take you places. That’s what I love about this career — you can literally write yourself to where you want to go.
4. More free time. As much as I’ve come to love the thrill of the hunt in active marketing, if you’re fully booked with lucrative clients and don’t need to block out time to write queries, call prospects or attend networking events, well…that’s more time you can spend with the family.
My work is out there online, marketing my writing services, every minute of every day. So is yours. What’s it saying about you? If it’s powerhouse stuff, it’ll be your marketing machine. If it’s mediocre, it’ll send a string of loser clients your way. You can shape your career direction just by delivering big on what you’re writing today.
Final note — my online buddy Jenn Mattern of All Freelance Writing is the guru on this passive-marketing lifestyle — if you’re interested in this type of marketing approach, you might want to check out her book, The Query-Free Freelancer.
Photo via Flickr user Intersection Consulting