My mission with this blog is to encourage writers to find better-paying gigs.
But sometimes, when it’s done strategically, doing free work can be a great marketing tool.
The trick is being very selective with your unpaid writing time, and making sure you choose situations that has a strong chance of benefiting you and leading to income.
Here are four basic approaches you can take where an unpaid effort can pay off big for you:
1. Pro bono gigs for clients
If you need a writing sample of a particular type, you might volunteer your services for a nonprofit or business. The right scenario is with:
- A client with a great reputation
- The subject matter and type of writing is of high interest to you, and you want to do more of it in the future
- The owner promises to refer you new clients and give you a testimonial
- The owner is willing to keep confidential the fact that you did the gig for free
In a situation like this, you end up with a strong writing sample and a good source of referral business. If you have few clips, investing a bit of time in a free project or two can be one of the best ways to improve your portfolio and start impressing better-paying prospects.
2. Public speaking & free classes
I know bloggers who get most of their paying clients by holding free introductory classes.
Offering this much value to prospects helps them feel comfortable that you would be a trustworthy person to plunk down their money with, and that you will deliver valuable information.
Doing any public speaking can be a great way to get exposed to new prospects. Any time you’re asked to speak at a public event, try to make time for it.
3. Write giveaways for your blog
Writing your own free products is one of the most powerful marketing strategies around. It can bring you new blog readers who might buy your paid products or services later, or it can help you find paying clients.
One of the most basic free products to create for your blog is a free report, ebook or course for your blog subscribers. As soon as you have a freebie offer, your subscriber rate usually skyrockets.
Your offer should be of great interest to your target blog audience. Dov Gordon of The Alchemist Entrepreneur calls this a “hand-raising” offer.
In other words, it’s so good that readers will have their hands in the air saying, “Me, me, please let me have your freebie!” It’s a no-brainer for them — something they simply can’t do without.
Some people create a freebie for freelance-writing prospects — a set of business-writing tips, for instance. Offering this type of giveaway in exchange for an email address allows you to build a marketing list of possible clients.
Even better is the situation where you have your own paid products you’ve written, such as ebooks, and your freebie report helps sell your other writing. Once readers have a taste of what you offer, they may well be hungry for more in-depth information.
I’m going to be experimenting this year with putting free and very low-cost ebooks on Amazon to help create a new lead-generation channel that helps readers discover my blog…can’t wait to see how that works.
4. Guest post on popular blogs
Personally, I wish more big blogs would pay for posts…but in the meanwhile, writing free guest posts for high-traffic blogs related to your niche can be a great way to get a lot more visitors, comments on your blog, and subscribers.
And subscribers are your best potential customers.
Also, guest posts bring you to the attention of those top bloggers, who may spread the word about your other posts in social media, bringing you even more traffic.
These bloggers might also help you by guesting on your blog, or by introducing you to others who might collaborate with you on projects.
In blogging, it really is like high school — it’s about being known and liked by the right people. Learn how to get the attention of top bloggers and write successful guest posts for them, and it can be your ticket to massive amounts of exposure, new readers, and ultimately, more income.
Need more marketing help? Here’s a place where you can get a bunch…