How To Promote Yourself as a Freelance Writer
As with any self-employment, one of the biggest struggles is not in doing the work, but in finding it. With freelance writing, the goal is to get to the point that your work starts to find you. As a beginner, that can be a bit intimidating. After ten years of promoting myself, I’ve developed several methods for finding new work that keeps me busy.
Here are several tips to promote yourself as a freelance writer — in order of effectiveness.
Let people know what you do
The best and most consistent writing gigs I’ve had have always come either from people I know personally or from a referral from an existing customer. In the early days, I wondered, why isn’t anyone asking me to do work for them? It took a couple of years for me to realize, if I haven’t told them what I do, they probably don’t truly understand it.
- Take the time to educate your family, friends, and acquaintances about the services you offer. Even in the internet age, they are one of the best sources for new work.
- Don’t assume that people know what a freelance writer does. I take the time regularly to post to my social media describing work I am doing, and services I offer.
- Take every opportunity to join conversations about work and share what you do. The more you talk about it, the more people know, and the better you get at explaining it.
Spend some time on your resume
It’s important to spend time, and possibly even some money, to get a good resume. If you have the qualifications, your resume reflects that, and is easy to read and appealing, you will get jobs. A sloppy resume that does not showcase your writing ability, on the other hand, will close doors.
- Keep your resume updated with your most recent jobs and projects. Especially if they are in an industry you want to work in, or are particularly impressive.
- Seek professional help. There are resume companies all over. Yes, you’re a writer, but they do this every day and may have good advice.
- Get a free resume critique by uploading it to major job sites like Beyond, many of them offer a free email critique of your resume to help point out weaknesses and suggest improvements.
You’re a writer, so write
If you don’t have a personal blog already, why not? I recommend that every single freelance writer starts a website with their name in the domain name, add a blog, and contribute to it at least once a week. This is the best calling card you can create for yourself. It allows people to approach the body of your work, not just one or two samples.
To create a professional site, you’ll need to host it yourself and not use a free platform, otherwise your domain name will be something like thebestwriter.wordpress.com, which doesn’t look nearly as professional as thebestwriter.com. Your first step should be purchasing hosting from a site like Bluehost. Then install WordPress and start building your site.
You should also find places that allow guest bloggers to post and make yourself a contributor. These types of sites allow you to share your expertise, and generally, you get a byline, so you can build name recognition.
- Write about your writing and other topics you would like to discuss. Clients often have a hard time recognizing that a good writer can write about almost anything. This makes it easy.
- Stay consistent. The internet loves new things and a blog that is frequently updated is a better advertisement for your work than one with a few articles from years ago.
- The side benefit of writing to promote is that you are sharpening your skills and building a portfolio of samples to share from.
- Optimize your website to give potential clients an easy way to reach out. Getting them as readers is good, getting them as paying clients is fantastic.
Build an online portfolio
You can do this on your own website, add it to a profile on a writing platform, or use a stand-alone portfolio builder. I like Contently. It allows you to add links quickly and simply. It has a strong, visual interface that shares headlines and feature images for each sample. It’s also free. If you want more control, however, try building your own online portfolio. Be sure to complete all of your profile, including your website and contact information.
- Update your portfolio regularly to keep it fresh.
- Edit your selections. Choose your best work, and exclude anything you don’t think is a good representation.
- Share a link to your portfolio on your blog, in social media, in emails and anywhere else clients might find you.
Be active on social media
Social media can be a huge time suck for writers. We get bogged down in philosophical conversations and debates. But, some of the best work I’ve gotten has been from people who saw things I shared on social media, then found out, through my profile, or sharing, that I am a freelance writer.
- Be sure you present a consistent persona. If you want to be a high-paid executive writer, avoid controversy and present a businesslike personality on public forums.
- Engage people in conversation. Don’t just go for “likes” and “shares” reply to those who respond to your sharing, it can lead to bigger things.
- Share your writing on your profiles. Links from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have all earned me new work.
- Take the time to fully complete each profile. Link to your website, or other social platforms to make you easier to find.
Follow job boards
The Writer’s Job Board is a great place to find writing opportunities. While it may not seem like “promotion,” applying for writing jobs and pitching stories is one of the best ways to find new gigs. It gets you outside your immediate circle of influence and provides you with a wider range of opportunity.
- Apply for everything that seems like a fit, without qualifying yourself. If you want the job, go for it, don’t prejudge, you never know until you try.
- Spend time weekly checking for new work and applying for gigs. If you have enough work, great, focus on applying for better-paying gigs to replace what you have.
- Don’t limit yourself. It costs you nothing but a few seconds to take a look at an ad, or pull up an application. I’ve found some really interesting jobs this way when I wasn’t sure about the headline.
The long and the short of it is this: you are your product and no one else is going to sell you.
It is your job, and your job alone to promote yourself as a freelance writer. Find what works to get the jobs you want and make it a part of your routine. You have to be consistent to have steady work. When work is plentiful, do a little extra and save the money, so that when it is slow, you have something set aside to carry you through.
Welcome to freelancing, it’s a heck of a ride.