How to Market Your Freelance Writing Skills

Guest post by Paul Dunstone

Like all professional fields, the field of freelance writing is a competitive one. With an endless array of freelance writers out there with incredibly strong portfolios of work, you may be asking yourself, how do I compete?

The key is to take the “one foot in front of the other” approach. If you’re truly committed to becoming a successful freelance writer, then ensuring that you consistently find new ways to improve your skills, market yourself, expand your portfolio and list of clients are ways to get there. By focusing on constantly improving your offering as a professional freelance writer; you will at the very least, be moving closer to your goal.

Regardless of whether you’re looking to secure your first client, stepping up to tender for an enterprise client, or developing a consistent stream of freelance clients so that you can move to full time freelance writing, the process of becoming a more successful freelance writer is one that requires a commitment to life-long learning and mastery of a number of arts.

One of the best ways to expedite your climb up the freelance writing ladder is to study the habits of those who have been successful in your field. Below I’ve created a list of the top ways to help you get ahead in the freelance writing game and provide your freelance writing clients with what they’re looking for. These tips should assist you to be not only in the game, but at the pointy end of any tendering process and hopefully secure more freelance writing work.

Marketing your freelance writing skills: how to get in the game

1. You must have a website

Having a website is an absolute must these days for freelance writers. Just the same as when you come across a business that doesn’t have a website and you find yourself saying “I can’t believe they don’t have a website”, potential clients will be thinking the same about you and in many cases will eliminate you from the tendering process.

Even if you don’t have a portfolio of work to publish on the site there are numerous other marketing activities you can undertake which will aid in impressing potential clients. These include:

  • Implementation of quality branding through the purchase of a great domain name
  • Implementation of great visuals which sell the quality of everything you do i.e. logo design and screen layout
  • Provision of a clear and logical place to provide contact details and links to social media channels you participate in
  • Provision of an “About” page which gives the client a feel for the freelancer they may be hiring
  • A pricing guide upfront to reassure the client of what they will be getting and how much it will cost
  • A list of testimonials and feedback from companies you’ve worked with
  • Implementations of a contact form so that you can receive enquiries 24/7.

2. You need to be in social media

Whether you decide to setup a Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus account, you’ll need to be on at least one of these social networks. Why you may ask? Because like it or not, social media has become a major extension of almost all business activities undertaken these days and your customers will be researching you there.

Socially, it has become the norm that professionals in a digital environment are active on social media. Generally it’s Twitter professionally, and Facebook is kept for personal activities, and in the case of a freelance writer I would suggest Twitter as a great place to start.

Twitter is fantastic for connecting with other freelance writers who may be able to help you out if they’re unable to complete a job, or know of a client looking for a freelancer. On Twitter, you also need to be aware that your potential customers will be looking to see what you have to say, how active you are, and what sort of person you are. So if you have career aspirations as a freelance writer, keep it professional and remember to link to your website and portfolio.

3. Group your portfolio by industry

People love to know who you‘ve worked with, and especially if it is with someone in their industry.  People often tend to group their portfolio and testimonial items randomly with little emphasis on industry.  This mistake is often overlooked. By showcasing that you’ve completed work within a particular industry you can demonstrate that you have prior knowledge of what’s important in the work you are being asked to complete. There have been numerous times when I’ve hired based on experience within a particular field, and this has always worked out for me. I strongly recommend considering this as part of your marketing activities.

4. People love brands

People love brands. They trust brands. They also like to be associated with brands that are successful and that is a major asset for you if you have worked with some well-known brands. They don’t have to be internationally recognized (although totally include those ones), but they should be reputable. Choose wisely which brands you showcase, and when tendering, include those of particular relevance to the client as the focus of the tendering process.

5. The quality of your work is everything

A portfolio that includes all your work is not necessarily a good one. I understand the need to fill your portfolio up with as much work as possible, but this is not the best idea. Only include the work you are really proud of in your portfolio. Unfortunately clients have a nasty habit of clicking on the worst items in your portfolio first, so if you’re not comfortable with any of your pieces, don’t include them. Your quality of work is the most important aspect you have at your disposal, so if you’re not comfortable with it being shared online to the masses, this is probably a good indicator it shouldn’t be in your portfolio.

6. Everything you do is marketing

Unfortunately across most industries, professionals can tend to forget that they are judged not just on their primary skills set, but the way they are conveyed in the marketplace. I can’t tell you how many freelance writing websites I’ve been to which frankly just terrified me, forcing me to leave quickly. So whether it’s business cards or your website, you need to maintain a high standard of professionalism at all times.

You may be thinking…”I’m not a web developer or graphic designer, how am I supposed to create a fancy website and marketing material?” The answer is you’re not. Get someone else to. You’re excellent at what you do, and that’s content writing. Selling yourself through words should be easy, let someone else work with you to present your image. Most importantly, whatever you do, if you’re not experienced in web design or graphic design it’s unlikely that the final product will be at the level you need it to be. So get some help and don’t penny-pinch to save a few dollars. It will cost you more in the long run.

7. Accounting talk travels fast

At the end of the day, transactions between freelancers and clients need to be hassle free. If they’re not, then often a client will just drop a freelancer in place of someone else who causes them less trouble. It seems obvious, but you need to stay on top of invoices, transact across a medium a client can handle, and accommodate their needs effectively. Remember the client has the money, and timeliness and quality of work is what they’re paying for. Keep your books in order and this will go a long way to avoiding any unfortunate discussions about a lack of organization on your behalf.

8. Embrace feedback, and if necessary adjust

Sometimes when we put our heart and soul into projects and they just don’t work out it can be tough. This also goes for freelance writing. If a client gives you some varied or negative feedback, you have to find the positive in the situation and learn from it. Don’t fight it, just learn from it. Even if you think it’s crazy, there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

One of the biggest opportunities from varied feedback is to up-skill. If some criticism of your writing style comes through, or criticism of your research, try to make a fair assessment of the work you completed and what your client is saying. Often there is wisdom in what they’re trying to communicate, even if it doesn’t come across that way. By researching the job further, or making a special effort to improve a piece, you can really learn a lot and endear yourself to a client as they will respect you listened to them and made a concerted effort.

Paul Dunstone has worked in the digital media industry since 2004 and currently holds the position of Chief Executive Officer at Job Stock. Paul overseas numerous operations at Job Stock including the Job Stock blog which discusses issues pertaining to the freelance industry, and the Job Stock freelance marketplace due for release later this year.

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  • http://bloggingtipstoday.com Joseph Adediji

    Great Post Paul,
    these are excellent ways for marketing our freelancing services. I totally agree with you on having a website, most of my clients hired me after seeing what I do on my blog.
    Thumbs Up for this post!

    • http://www.jobstock.com/blog/ Paul Dunstone

      Your exactly right Joseph.

      Potential clients are always going to be researching you during a tendering process. They will generally look at your previous work, online reputation, and quite often whether or not you have worked in their particular niche or industry. Ensuring you present a really great website to “knock their socks off” with your best work is essential.

      I’m glad this technique is working for you.

  • Diane Peters

    Hi Paul,

    I really agree with your point about grouping your portfolio by industry. It’s amazing how crucial this can be to getting referral work. I tend to write for a quite diverse range of clients, and I’ve often managed to get referral work based on the work I’ve done for clients in the same or related industries. Great tip!

  • http://www.thuthuatwordpress.com/the-visa-tra-truoc-trustcard-prepaid-card Ben Troy

    I think creating a Professional Website It is vitally important for every contractor and jobseeker to have a professional website. You must have a good looking, professional site that represents your skills, talents, and showcases your service offerings

  • http://www.writeyourrevolution.com Sarah Russell

    Great post Paul – definitely agree with all of the points you’ve brought up here!

    One thing I would add, though, is to be careful that the desire to be a “perfect” freelancer doesn’t prevent you from actually moving forward. Things like having a professionally designed website and perfectly designed portfolio are hugely important, but they aren’t 100% necessary to secure freelance projects (assuming a strong skill set, of course).

    Waiting to have all of these different elements in place before striking out isn’t necessary, as it’s possible to grow and develop your marketing strategy and business practices as you go. It’s definitely important to work towards all of these recommendations as a goal, but not being perfect right off the bat shouldn’t prevent you from seeking work either.

    Thanks for sharing this :)

    • http://www.jobstock.com Paul Dunstone

      Well said Sarah.

      Becoming a top freelancer is definitely a journey, and getting too focussed on perfection can be detrimental. I’m a big fan of getting the fundamentals like a website ready and in place though, as it’s tough to go out the market without at least some form of portfolio. However like you said, working towards a full arsenal of marketing tools and constantly seeking out work is a great strategy.

  • http://myandroidmag.com/ Android Mag

    I donot used to get time for freelance writing, as I write for my own blog. though your article is informative, and there is no harm to know this, as who knows the future :P

  • http://www.kunkelbuslines.com Alex

    It is good to have a website when one is trying to market his freelance skills. This will help bloggers to find you and also have a check over your work and type of writing. One can use this personal website to market his writing skills very easily because readers can have quick access to it.

  • http://www.lavishdreamhair.com James

    I’m working as a freelancer since 1 year & I’m making decent money through it. You have provided some really good tips to expand my reach, being active on Social Media helped me a lot. I like the point about people loving brands. Good post, thanks a lot for sharing.

  • http://www.worldofshades.com/ Daniel

    Brilliant post Paul! Marketing is integral to the success of any freelancer. I totally agree with you- the quality of your work is everything. I believe the content you provide either makes you or breaks you. One thing I would like to add here is – the freelance should make sure to write guest posts for backlinks, instead of traffic because doing this will result in a lot more traffic for you in the long run. Completely enjoyed reading this post! Keep up the good work! Cheers!

    • http://www.jobstock.com Paul Dunstone

      Thanks for that Daniel, glad you enjoyed the article.

  • http://www.landmarkvenues.com Smith

    Thanks a ton for these useful tips, I’m planning to do Freelancing. Networking with other freelancers in other industries is the best thing. I think freelancers often try to network with others in the same field and rarely do you get work from your competition.

  • http://www.teplegals.ca Katie

    Some great advice there- especially “Embrace feedback, and if necessary adjust”. I think starting a newsletter will also help freelancer to market their writing skills since newsletter create a bond with your audience and position you as an expert. It’s a great way to establish yourself as an authority and do remind clients that you’re there.

    • http://www.jobstock.com/blog/ Paul Dunstone

      Great comment Katie. Sending out a regular newsletter is a fantastic way to connect with your audience. We send out a regular newsletter and it works great for us on multiple fronts; both traffic and engagement.

  • http://www.abacusselfstorage.com Megan

    I’m a student & I want to become a freelancer as the income is negligible right now,u have shared some excellent tips. I’m very much alive on social media, that seems to be an advantage. Good post, thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.jobstock.com Paul Dunstone

      No problems Megan. We’re launching our freelance marketplace soon. Feel free to preregister with us for our launch at http://www.jobstock.com.

  • http://www.migrationlaw.com Jack

    You have shared some really good points, Some freelancers are great writers but they don’t have much work due to lack of contacts. I’m a student & want to work as a freelancer for my pocket money & you have shared some useful points, will definitely use it.

    • http://www.jobstock.com/blog/ Paul Dunstone

      No problem Jack…glad you found it useful.