When you think about marketing your freelance writing do you cringe? If someone suggests you need a plan for marketing your freelance writing do you want to go back to bed and eat cookies?
You are not alone!
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard freelance writers say something like “I hate marketing.” In fact, I used to say it myself. When I looked closely I realized I was resisting marketing my writing for several reasons including:
- I was afraid I do it wrong.
- I was afraid of rejection.
- I was afraid of putting myself out there – which is really fear of rejection.
- The whole idea of marketing felt sleazy to me.
I began with queries to magazines
Somehow, the idea of sending queries to magazines about specific articles I would write for them didn’t feel sleezy. The fact that I was mailing a query letter far away lessened my fear of getting out there. Following the model in Writer’s Market meant I had a set of instructions so I knew I wasn’t doing it wrong.
Sometimes it worked. I went from queries to magazine editors to queries to other publishers for booklets and eventually books. Some of these worked too.
It never occurred to me that by sending queries I was marketing myself and my writing. At that point, I had marketing blocked off under some other category that I’d totally hidden from myself.
Looking for writing gigs
I bought a computer almost as soon as I learned they could check my still creative spelling. The manuals were so awful that I realized if I could figure out what I needed to do to make the darn thing work, I could write instructions that non-techs could actually understand and use.
I attended a local computer trade show and went booth to booth offering my services. This didn’t feel sleazy to me somehow. In my mind I saw a problem I knew I could solve – I never thought of it as marketing, but it was. Back then no one knew how to write a computer manual – the fact that I didn’t know how didn’t matter. I got hired which led to all sorts of interesting things including being an early adapter of the internet through what was probably the first online community. (The Well, for those of you who are curious.)
I didn’t yet recognize what I was doing and in between gigs tried all sorts of marketing schemes. I mailed postcards, but didn’t followup, so got no results. I tried making a few cold calls, but that felt really dodgy. I even went knocking on doors from time to time, embarrassed half to death because I felt like I was begging.
I felt that way because in a way I was. As I look back, I realize that I was focusing mostly on how much they could pay me rather than what I could do for them. I had it exactly backwards.
Being of service – the secret to marketing your freelance writing
Over time I’ve discovered that what I have to offer is a way with words if you will. It seems to be in my genes. I don’t really know how it happened, but I have been a pretty good steward of it and so, on the whole, my writing has improved.
I also realized along the way that the only reason people hired me (or anyone else for that matter) is because they believed I could solve a problem for them.
- The magazine editors needed the articles I wrote.
- The tech industry needed someone who could translate their work into usable information.
- When I’ve ghostwritten books for folks, they hired me becasue they felt I could get a book written for them.
- The people who read this blog want to draw on my experience as a freelance writer.
In each case my writing solved a problem; I’m was being of service!
Now when I market I work to come from that place of being of service. I don’t always know how to do market, but do have people I can ask for help. I no longer fear rejection. And being of service is anything but devious. It feels good to me and to my clients.
In fact, a case could be made that, in order to be of maximum service, I have an obligation to get the word out about what I can do writing-wise. I know that not everyone needs my writing, but how will those who can genuinely benefit from it ever know about me if I don’t let them know that I’m here and what I can do?
That’s become the key to marketing for me, remembering I want to be of service offering the skills I have.
How do you market your freelance writing? What questions do you have about marketing?
Marketing is an important part of being in the business of freelance writing. Sign up for my series on freelance writer business solutions. It’s free and informative.
Write well and often,
Graphic created at Wordle