Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #7: How to Get Gigs Flowing Your Way

Get freelance writing money flowing your way with these tips. Makealivingwriting.comIt’s every writer’s dream: Great clients just call you, out of the blue, and ask you to write for them.

You don’t have to look at job ads, go to networking events, or make cold calls.

Think it can’t happen? I know it can, because I haven’t had to actively market my business for over a year now.

Marketing-types call this “inbound marketing.” In other words, the gigs just flow in, rather than you having to go beat the streets for clients.

How does it work?

You need a strong online presence, so those great clients can find you, check you out, and decide you’re the one they want.

Essentially, you’re going to build a network of information online that draws clients to you.

It takes a little work, but it’s so worth it.

You don’t need to be a search engine optimization (SEO) genius, either. You can start getting found by taking a few basic steps.

Here are the elements you need:

1. A strong writer website. We talked about writer websites already in this series, but it’s worth repeating. Wherever else you’re seen online, prospects are going to trail back to your website to read your work.

So get as many great clips on there as you can. And make sure they can read them, without having to download anything.

Most importantly, stuff your writer website with words prospects might use to search for you. If you take a look at my tagline, you can tell what I’m trying to rank highly for on search.

You may not believe that putting a key phrase in your site’s headline or tagline can possibly make a difference with all the websites out there in the great, big Interwebs. But it really will.

You won’t believe the quality of clients that are using natural search to find writers, either. I’ve been hired by several Fortune 500 companies now off searches on Google or LinkedIn for writers in my city.

To help your writer website pop up high on searches for freelance writers, keep updating your site. I have a “favorites” sidebar I like to put new articles into, to keep refreshing my content. If it’s a slow month, I try to find a static page to rewrite a little.

Many writers have their blog hosted on their writer website, which is another way to keep adding content.

Tweeting your article or blog post URL adds another link back to your site, which helps, too.

2. A strong LinkedIn presence. Fully fill out that bio and stuff your profile’s tagline with search terms. Mine says “award-winning writer, blogger, copywriter, and writing mentor.” Those are the gigs I’d like to do more of, so I’m helping people who need those types of writing and mentoring help find me.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile links to your writer website, or offers a portfolio of clips right on LI.

Also fill out the “skills” tabs available on your profile with the writing types you do. Skills are basically another way for search engines to help prospects find you.

3. A “hire me” tab on your blog. Especially if your blog is your main online site, it’s critical that you put a up a “hire me” tab that spells out to visitors that yes, you are available to write for others. I know more than one writer who has immediately gotten good-paying offers after adding a “hire me” tab.

4. Consider more profiles. While you might not want to bid against the universe for gigs on Elance, oDesk or Guru.com, it can be good to have a profile posted on heavily trafficked, highly ranked freelance portals. I call this strategy “lurk, don’t work.” When I got an ebook-ghostwriting nibble from one quality prospect, I discovered they had come across me from a Guru.com profile I’d put up years ago and forgotten.

5. Keep updating everything. What keeps your website and LinkedIn profile ranking well is continuous updates. Try to get on both your profile and your writer site once a week and change something. Do a status update on LinkedIn once a week or so that talks about a writing assignment or challenge you’re facing. Answer a question on there. Participate in your groups. Keep expanding your connections (with people you know, not everyone who sends you an invite.) Tweet a link back to a clip.

Yes, it’s a bit of work to create and update your website and LinkedIn profile — but not much. Once your site is up, you shouldn’t need to spend more than 15 or 20 minutes in a typical week.

Is that more work than developing customized prospecting emails, or sitting through those Chamber luncheons? I don’t think so.

And there’s nothing like the feeling you get when the phone rings and a prospect says, “I saw you on LinkedIn, and was wondering if you have some availability to write for us.”

How are you using inbound marketing to find writing clients? Leave a comment and tell us your approach.

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26 comments on “Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #7: How to Get Gigs Flowing Your Way
  1. Emily Fowler says:

    Great tips, thanks Carol! My ‘inbound marketing’ is in the fledgling stages, but just this week I had a text from an old friend (haven’t seen him for 10 years) who had seen what I do on my LinkedIn profile and wants me to re-write the content for two of his websites.
    Emily Fowler recently posted…4 Essential Small Business Marketing ToolsMy Profile

  2. Carol,

    Thank you once again for such an informative and resourceful post!

    I really liked your point 4 tip (wink) I had never really thought about that. I have created some profiles on similar sites like you mentioned in this post and have completely forgot about them. Now, because of reading your post here, I will be updating those profiles real soon. Who knows, maybe just few tweaks and I will have some clients coming in that way as well.

    I have really enjoyed getting your “Marketing 101” series of post in my email. Speaking of email, I just sent you email response to this very post.

    I look forward to hearing back from you on that!

    Sincerely,

    Freelance Writer and Blogger
    William Ballard
    William Ballard recently posted…Freelance Writers: How to Get Your First Writing Client in 1 MonthMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      I *love* getting into resource guides. Those things tend to stick around forever! Great idea to go back and see if you can update your profile on those, William!

  3. Fred Good says:

    I found an excellent website to help with writing a LinkedIn profile.
    It checks the quality of the words you use.
    The address is http://www.cvwordchecker.com

    It is free of charge and there is nothing to download or install. Also there is no registration needed.
    The results are amazing and helped me rewrite my profile properly.

    Fred Good

  4. Shannon says:

    Thanks for this post – there is a lot of very useful information here. Do you recommend having a different domain for your services site and blog? I noticed you do and this is something I’ve been debating. I have a site designed for myself where I will list my services, portfolio, etc and was going to connect it directly to my blog (landing page would be the blog with a ‘hire me’ button). But lately I’ve been thinking of using an entirely different domain for my blog to help gain authority in my industry (fitness) and get potential clients to notice me.

    I have my name’fitness’ as the domain for the services and would use something non-name for my blog. Or is keeping them together on one site more ideal?

    Any advice would be awesome.

    • Carol Tice says:

      For the vast majority of writers, I recommend keeping your blog right on your writer site, as it’ll help the writer site keep updating, and rank better in Google. Also the more sites you have, the more work you’re making for yourself administratively…most writers I know have enough trouble keeping up one site.

      However, if your blog is a niche that you see could grow into a business of its own, as it acquires a following it’s time to spin it off of your writer site. That’s what happened to this blog, which did start on caroltice.com back in 2008.

      • Shannon says:

        Thanks so much for the prompt reply. I think in my case it may be best to use a different domain then. In the long term it would be awesome to turn it into an income generating site and possibly release my own products (as I am a trainer who works in the industry as well), so I think this is the route I’m going to take.

        You definitely helped me gain some clarity! Thanks again!

  5. Valerie says:

    Carol,

    Thank you for a very informative and useful post. Do you recommend replacing a page called “writing services” with a page called “hire me”, or do you recommend having both?
    Valerie recently posted…My Favorite Quotes on WritingMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      If you don’t have a writer site and it’s just a blog tab, I’d probably say ‘hire me’ spells it out the best. You can always list your writing services there.

      But best way to find out is to test…do a few months with one heading and then the other and see if you see a difference in your number of nibbles you get.

  6. Lilla Folsom says:

    So Carol, you think I could use a LindIn site as my clip provider until I find the website I want and can afford to create?

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Lilla — you can, there’s a portfolio plug-in Behance makes that lets you add links. But it’s still really a stopgap measure.

      I recommend writers who’re boggled by the whole project of getting their site up just join NAIWE — more details about the free, hosted WordPress site they give members is on that link. I think it’s the best deal around for writers who need a site fast and don’t want to have to learn a lot about the technical end of things.

  7. Tim Ward says:

    This is such a wonderful post. These are some very valuable tips that one should put in use.

    Thanks for sharing.

    -Tim
    Tim Ward recently posted…Brainwave EntrainmentMy Profile

  8. Max says:

    I like the idea of a “Hire Me” tab on the blog. I have advised many of my friends about different things they should have on their websites, but never thought of that. Thanks
    Max recently posted…Diablo 3 GuideMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      The thing I’ve learned from my mentor Derek Halpern at Social Triggers, is that you can’t underestimate how dumb people are when they arrive at a new website. When they come to your website, you need to tell them what you want them to do! Or they won’t know.

      Lots of people write blogs, but have no interest in writing for others for a paycheck. Your tab lets them know you’re a pro.

  9. Gina Goodman says:

    These are great tips! Especially with LinkedIn, I’ve only just recently started to realize how helpful that site can be when you use it to its full potential (ie. keeping it updated, joining groups, tagging correctly). I’ll keep watching out for more of these, thanks!

  10. Freelance Laura says:

    Carol, thanks so much for doing these! I’m no newbie to freelance work, but I’ve pulled at least one fresh idea from each of your posts in this series. I really appreciate the help; I think we can all use some fresh ideas to keep work coming in right now!

    • Carol Tice says:

      That’s great to hear, Laura. I started this series to get all my marketing tips organized. I wanted these to have info for people at all stages of their career, so great to hear I’m on the mark for that.

  11. Practical and useful, as always. I have spent the past week redoing the content on my website, making an online portfolio on Pinterest, (fun!!!) getting my twitter and linkedin up to speed and linking all my sites to each other. Yes, it is work to set it all up properly. I am looking forward to the day when a job just “falls on me” from my online presence. Gotta go look into how to add a “hire me” button. Thanks Carol!
    Leslie Miller recently posted…Stretching before WritingMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Just add another page that you have a tab for in navigation, and then use that page to talk about your services, types of writing you do, industries you know…give your contact info, and then also provide a link to your writer site.

      For a long time I just made that tab link straight over to my writer site, but I learned that doesn’t convert as well. It’s too disorienting. You want to write a page specifically for that blog audience, about how you are also a writer for hire. Then they can go to your website to learn more.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I haven’t done a thing on Pinterest yet…it’s on my list, right after learning more about Google+.

  12. Karen Finn says:

    Thanks for these valuable tips! Although writers have the luxury of working for a broad geographical audience, it’s also worthwhile to know the basics about local vs traditional SEO. I’ve recently interviewed an SEO expert who gave some great advice that I think dovetails nicely with yours. See http://www.sayitbetter.co.uk/?page_id=25 to hear what she has to say.

    • Carol Tice says:

      It’s harder to rank nationally for a phrase like “freelance writer,” though some do. It’s been an easier target to try for a geographic search or a topic search. I know I’m not the only who’s done very well by focusing on ranking for a regional search for writers.

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