Building Your Brand, Using Multiple Mediums, and Networking Consistently
Starting out as a freelancer can be difficult.
So difficult, in fact, that many never even get started.
I have a friend who works as a programmer and coding tutor, and while he doesn’t want a new 9-5 job, he’s so intimidated by the prospect of starting a freelance career that he remains practically paralyzed.
The biggest question he has is, “how do you get work?”. That may indeed be the most difficult part of the equation, as it does take some time and strategic planning.
But it can be done. Without knowing how to market yourself as a freelance writer, however, you don’t stand a chance.
Regardless of whether you want to be a freelance writer, developer, video creator, or anything else, there are some important things to know when it comes to marketing.
This post will provide a great starting point for some of the key ways how to market yourself as a freelance writer.
Consider the Source
First thing’s first: why should you listen to me?
I’ve been doing this for five years. That has included the 2020 recession as well as the recession going on right now.
I’m now at the point where I don’t have to market myself very much. Most of my business comes through inbound leads on LinkedIn, and every now and then, my website.
My inbound marketing work mostly consists of posting and commenting on LinkedIn, getting new connections, and the occasional video or blog post (like this one). I don’t do much outbound marketing these days beyond reaching out to new LinkedIn connections, people who have viewed my profile, past clients, or applying to the occasional freelance writing job.
It wasn’t that long ago I was writing for content mills, making a measly $0.02 per word. Now my average rate is more than 50x that.
My freelance writing income was once beneath the poverty level. Today, I’m financially independent and constantly improving.
In the past 18 months, I’ve
- raised my rates several times,
- reached over 4,000 connections on LinkedIn,
- gotten bylines in Business Insider and The Balance,
- appeared on a few podcasts, and
- been granted a Google Knowledge Panel.
That’s enough shameless self-promotion for now. Let’s get into the details of how to market yourself as a freelance writer.
Figure Out Your Niche
Before you can do anything, you must find your niche. Once you’ve established yourself as an expert in your field, it will be much easier to market yourself and get inbound leads.
Some gurus claim you don’t need a niche. That might work for some, but I don’t recommend it.
There are too many benefits that come from having a niche not to have one. Some of these include:
Writing about similar topics consistently. This makes your job easier because you will often already know something about what you need to write about. Assignments will become less research-intensive and you can be more creative. This both makes your writing better and allows you to work faster.
Achieving expert-level authority. As mentioned, there’s a lot of value in being perceived as an expert. You can raise your rates to the highest level possible, get higher-status bylines, grow your network with ease, and create higher-quality content.
Focus on where you’re needed most. Having a niche allows you to target specific publications for pitching if you’re doing outbound marketing, and makes it easier for people to find you when it comes to inbound marketing. You can also create content focused on your niche, which makes it easier for you to build your blog’s SEO using topics that are related to each other.
If you don’t have a niche, the only real benefit is that you open yourself up to writing about anything. While this may mean there are more job openings for you, it can make it more difficult to find anything in the first place and means you will have to spend additional time conducting extra research every time you write about something new.
Creating your personal brand forms the foundation for everything else you will do.
This starts with creating a name for your company, creating a logo, and getting a professional email address. Being consistent is key. This way, you’ll be easily recognizable no matter where someone finds you.
As an example, my company name is BDN Content, my primary email is Brian@bdncontent.com, my social media handles are @bdncontent, and one of my logos looks like this:
You can hire a graphic designer on Fiverr to create a simple logo for yourself.
I also recommend researching color psychology when creating your logo. That’s a different topic that I won’t delve into here.
Create Your Own Content
After establishing a brand and a niche, you can start putting your content marketing skills to work for yourself.
Short-form social media posts and long-form blog posts are obviously a good target, but the occasional video and live streams can be helpful, too. Use tools like InVideo to help you more easily create video content, or hire a cheap freelancer on Fiverr to create videos for you (pro tip: don’t search for freelance writing work on Fiverr, Upwork, or other freelancing platforms).
Some writers also choose to utilize other mediums like podcasting. Creating a podcast can be a big undertaking, although there are ways to simplify the process. If you just want to record yourself speaking and have that be the podcast, then all you need is a USB microphone and recording software like Audacity. Having a full-on audio program that includes guests takes a bit more work.
There’s one key point to note here: focus your efforts on where the most results come from.
This is one of the most important things to know when it comes to how to market yourself as a freelance writer.
I used to use Buffer to post to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook automatically, in addition to manually making Instagram posts. This turned out to be a monumental waste of time.
At some point, I realized LinkedIn was the only place I ever got any results from, so I started focusing my efforts there.
Now I spend less time overall on this kind of content marketing while getting a much greater outcome.
Another crucial point to mention on the subject of creating your own content: you must own the digital real estate upon which you post.
Otherwise, you run the risk of being de-platformed for whatever reason. That means you must have your own self-hosted website.
If you create a course, host it on your own platform.
When you write something, post it on your own blog.
If you start a podcast or create videos, make sure they exist on your site in addition to platforms like Spotify or YouTube.
When it comes to how to market yourself as a freelance writer, there’s nothing worse than going through the effort to create and publish content only to have it all wiped away in a flash by someone working at a social media company (I was banned from Twitter for a few months in 2020 for no reason, so I have personal experience with this).
Research, Rewind, Repeat
Putting out content that’s related to your niche and provides value to others will build your brand, increase your visibility, and bring you leads. It’s vital to have a system like this up and running, as it reduces your chances of waking up one day and wondering where the next project will come from.
Even when you have plenty of client work, try to keep marketing yourself to some degree. Obviously, if your schedule is packed with high-paying projects, you won’t have time to write a blog post, make videos, or record podcasts every week. But you can still post and comment on LinkedIn.
The key is to make it a point to produce something whenever some downtime presents itself.
Of course, there’s another piece I left out here: cold pitching. This should be a part of how to market yourself as a freelance writer, too.
Cold pitching involves pitching an idea to a publication that didn’t advertise a job.
A slightly less intimidating form of outbound marketing comes in the form of asking for referrals. When you connect with someone new on LinkedIn, send them a message saying what you do, asking them to refer you to anyone who may need your kind of writer, and offering to do the same for them.
That last piece is important because anyone who asks for favors without offering anything in return won’t be welcomed. Personally, I block people who do that 100% of the time.
Most freelancers begin with a mix of outbound and inbound marketing before reaching a “tipping point” at which most of their work comes from consistent inbound leads.
Join a Community
One of the fastest ways to accelerate your career as a freelance writer is to join a community of others working to do the same. This allows you to learn from others’ mistakes and successes, potentially saving you years of wasted effort.
I recommend The Freelance Writer’s Den. Membership is only $25 per month and gives you unlimited access to:
- Courses (called boot camps) for every topic you could ever need, tailored to writers in different stages of their careers,
- Forums for connecting with other writers and coaches,
- A weekly news update about informative forum conversations and the latest boot camps,
- A “junk-free job board,” where you can apply to freelance writing jobs that have been vetted for decency.
There’s more, too – so much more that I can’t possibly cover it all here.
How to Market Yourself as a Freelance Writer
If this all sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. But it can be fun too, and it’s not like it all has to be done at once.
Focus on what you enjoy doing the most and where the most results come from. This way, it’ll feel like less of a grind.
It’s important to remember that in the beginning, it may seem like nothing is happening. There may be zero leads coming in for a time.
But something is happening: you’re building a foundation for better things to come.
If you want to see more of my content on marketing, Bitcoin, finance, and more, connect with me on Linkedin at https://linkedin.com/in/freelance-cryptocurrency-writer