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When a Freelance Writer’s Marketing Stops Working

Freelance Writer's MarketingA writer I’ve coached reached out to me not long ago, concerned that her plan for marketing her writing was not longer working.

She has been sending emails to corporations in her speciality and following them up with a phone call.

Over the last year or so, this plan has generated enough for her to live on and a short handful of repeat clients. Now, she reported, for almost a month although she’d been doing the same thing faithfully, she’d literally gotten no new clients at all.

It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of marketing you’re doing, attending trade shows, sending letters of introduction, cold calling, even knocking on doors, the results dry up after awhile – but usually just for awhile.

Something’s changed in the market

Something’s changed…

We’re just now coming out of a pretty major recession. Some industries haven’t recovered yet or are experiencing a volatile period. That will be reflected in their willingness to hire freelance writers.

Many writing markets, even most, are at least somewhat seasonal. As you continue to work your market specialty or niches you’ll begin to know when those down periods are. You can make your own plans around those times – even taking a vacation, or experimenting with other areas to write in.

Something else has changed in your market – which sometimes can be hard to ferret out. Poke around in recent forums about your market – you may find something useful. Talk with other writers.

Ask the five people you talk to about hiring you as a writer if something’s changed. You may find out exactly what you need to know.

Something’s changed in your approach

We make subtle changes in our marketing without ever realizing it. Maybe we’ve rewritten an email and it isn’t working as well as the former one, or maybe somehow an error has crept in that makes you look less than professional. Look over your email with a critical eye. Double check your website.

Maybe you’ve gotten a bit bored or cynical with marketing and it’s showing in your voice. Check your script – are you saying what was successful before or have some changes crept in? Stand up when you talk on the phone – it will improve your energy.

Keeping statistics on your marketing can be really helpful – and if you haven’t before, now might be a great time to start.

Maybe you really do need a vacation!

Seriously, how long has it been since you’ve taken a real break from both your writing and your marketing? I love the word, recreation; it says what why we need time off. Re-creation is something all writers need from time-to-time.

Taking time off doesn’t necessarily mean an expensive two-week vacation at some resort or a month long backpacking trip. It can mean staying at home, ignoring email for several days, keeping the computer turned off and getting out of the house to parks, museums, long walks or movies with friends and family or anything else you truly enjoy.

Freelance Writer’s Marketing Starts Working Again

Usually by the time you’ve taken at least a few of these steps you’ll find your marketing is working again. You may even figure out the reason.

Once in a while you’ll realize you’re still stuck. This is the time to take a day or a couple of half days and do some soul searching and some visioning.

Look, industries change. Cars put buggy whips out of business, at least until people became affluent enough to have horses as recreation. Technology has meant some markets have slowed way down, while many more have sprung up.

If you write brilliantly today about widgets, and widgets become obsolete, you’ll need to change what you’re writing. Changes like this can be startling, but they don’t mean you’re a failure. If you’re determined to write for a living, figure out how to make it work, even if that means doing everything differently.

How has your marketing had to change? Tell us in comments.


Get Anne Wayman’s downloadable book, Freelance Writing Business Solutions at a special discount.

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman freelance writer




{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Great post Anne!

    I recently decided to spend 3 hours per week on pitching magazines and another 3 hours on carefully answering job ads that are well suited to me. Hope this marketing plan works…

    Thank you for the great advice!

    • Manolis, how are you going to track that time? Let us know how well it works out, and the results and any changes in your plan.

      • I will probably just use pencil and paper and just note down the time I dedicate to each marketing activity since I don’t use any on- line time tracker yet.

        Also I had the idea that since I live in Europe I could buy some prepaid phone cards and possibly make some affordable or low price calls to editors overseas or to other EU countries as a form of cold calling. I am not sure about this marketing activity yet.

        I will see how it goes and I will definitely let you know of the results and any changes during the job searching process.

        Best wishes!

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