In order to be successful with your freelance writing business, you’ll have to learn how to market your services. This is hard to do if you don’t believe you have what it takes to succeed, so change your thinking, know your worth, and start taking your freelance writing seriously. Got your game face on? Good! My game face is a little uncomfortable so I’m just going to wear my helmet. Okay, let’s get started with part 5 in the series Business Plans for Freelance Writers.
What is Marketing?
A few years ago if someone said I needed to “market” something my first thought would have something to do with a grocery store shopping cart. Okay, not really, I didn’t know exactly what marketing was, but I did know it was something I was interested in. So what is marketing exactly? According to the American Marketing Association, “marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Sounds simple enough right? Okay, I personally thought the definition was a little complicated but by the end of this post, if the definition didn’t make sense, you’ll have a better understanding of marketing. You’ll also be ready set your own marketing plan in place and implement your marketing strategies.
There are four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.
Identify Your Product or Service
The product or service here is you. You’re a freelance writer. You want to land private clients or you hope to seek publication in a well-respected magazine. Perhaps you’ve written a novel and you’re looking for an agent or publishing agency. The key here is to identify exactly what it is you have to offer or the direction you want to take your freelance writing, such as a specific niche, and go from there. This does not mean you are going to put all of your focus on the writing services you offer, just be aware of type of services you will provide and part of your marketing strategy is to make others aware of that without “selling.”
This is not one of the four Ps, but you also need to identify the target market. Depending on who you are doing work for, they can provide you with this information. If they do not offer, be sure to ask. You’ll want information such as age, gender, interests, education, income level, and possibly even geographical location depending on the project. This information can be found doing an internet search and paying attention to your competitors. You want to know the needs and wants of customers/clients/readers and you want to be able to fulfill those wants and needs better than the competition. You will learn a lot from your competition and other writers you admire.
The Price is Right
Come on down! You’re the next contestant…
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I guess that helmet isn’t working so well.
For new writers especially, knowing what to charge for your writing services can be overwhelming. You don’t have much experience and you’re not as confident as more experienced writers so you’ll likely set your prices too low. I’m not saying you should charge like you’re the meanest bull in a Spanish bullfight but you get the picture—or you just got the picture of the bullfight—either way, you don’t want to sell yourself short on pricing.
You can do an internet search and there are many writers’ websites who list their pricing for certain projects, use that as a “general” guideline to what you should be charging. My best advice is to tweak those prices to fit your experience level without under pricing too much. When you start gaining more experience and proving yourself to your clients, you’ll be able to start charging more for your services.
Your Place or Mine?
The third of the four Ps in marketing is “place.” Let’s say you want to write and sell an e-book that is going to be huge! Do you plan on selling it straight from your website or will you go through some place like Amazon? If you decide you want to use articles to market yourself, will they be distributed through an online newsletter by using a website like eZine Articles? Remember, you’re marketing yourself as a freelance writer so “place” can mean through social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn), writing forums, blogs, writing associations, business cards, word-of-mouth, etc. You’re basically finding outlets, online and offline, as a way for you to “distribute” yourself and let people know you’re there. You have to find various, creative ways to connect with people who may be interested in what you have to offer. It’s also important to connect with others in the industry who may refer you to someone looking for the type of service you offer. The list of ways and places to market your freelance writing business is only limited to your imagination.
And the fourth P …..
Fourth P? Already? Man, I need to quit drinking so much water!
Promotion is where stuff like advertising, promotions, sales, etc. come in. Using sales, promotions, and advertising the right way can keep you from getting an eye-patch. On the other hand, if you had an eye-patch, it would be like advertising for 50% off your services; ba-dum-bum…chhh. Is this thing on?
Joking aside, writers can advertise their services using your own webpage, in the classified sections of the local paper, magazines, online classified sites, and even on a roadside bench next to the real estate agent’s face if that’s what you choose to do. Just remember that however you choose to promote yourself, do so in a way that will keep a positive image in the public’s eye. Personally, some of the best advertisements, and the ones that stick with me the most, are the funny ones.
Think about your business goals and implement these marketing strategies to achieve that goal. Develop a plan, test various outlets, and evaluate the results. This will help you determine which strategies are working and which are not. The strategies that are not working should be adjusted or eliminated altogether.
With that being said, when you’re starting your freelance writing business, you have to be able to stand out among a crowd of other great writers. If being normal isn’t working, dare to be a little different. Remember to pay attention to what other writers in your niche are doing and use what you learn as a guideline for your own success.