This appeared in WCDR’s “Word Weaver” newsletter in 2009:
One of the most difficult things beginning freelance writers tackle is the concept of marketing. People think that in order to make a living writing, all they have to do is write. NOT!
Like operating any business, freelancers have to think about a whole lot of other things such as invoicing, bookkeeping, paying taxes – and attracting clients who will offer work that enables writers to invoice, have books to keep and taxes to pay.
Marketing your work takes time and can be accomplished in many different ways. I’d like to share two methods in this column that might surprise you. The first is to write with creativity, especially your leads. The initial few sentences in any piece of writing are the most critical, especially in today’s hectic world where there are so many things competing for readers’ time. People read headlines and leads, and if those aren’t interesting, they often move on to the next article. It’s important to write an attention-grabbing lead. Then, of course, the rest of the piece has to maintain that level of interest.
How does this tie in with marketing? You never know who’s out there reading your bylined material. Several times in my career, I have been contacted by clients who read my articles in newspapers and magazines and liked my writing style. They contacted me. Imagine that … reverse marketing!
The other method I suggest is to be reliable. Get back to your editor with good solid writing by deadline day within the word count asked for, and you stand a good chance of being hired again. Does that sound too basic? Just ask editors how they feel about this. I’ve sat on the editing side of the desk for years, and it can be a challenge to find reliable writers. As I’ve said many times, I’d rather hire a good reliable writer than a brilliant flake. A little professionalism goes a long way in this biz.
There are many other ways to market your work – business cards, brochures, flyers, newsletters, workshops, etc. But the best marketing is still word of mouth. Be sure you give them something good to talk about!