If you want to write for newspapers and magazines, the query letter is the best way to get started (see video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCt1I20Bdyc). But when it comes to landing ‘corporate’ (business or non-profit) writing gigs, it’s a whole other matter… Why is it that many of us find sales and marketing difficult to do?
The answer is simple. Many freelance writers, even those that work for the corporate market, don’t understand that they are in business and fail to apply basic marketing principles to their business. Once you accept that you are in business, it’s easier to apply marketing tools to your freelance business.
I have five arrows in my marketing quiver. While I do not have the marketing budget of a major corporation, I can use my marketing tools in a planned and systematic manner to generate new and repeat business.
The five arrows in my marketing quiver include:
- Generate repeat business, testimonials, and referrals.
- Network with friends, relatives, associates; through organizations.
- Advertise and promote.
- Cold calling and direct mail.
- Online strategies (website, blog, and social media)
Any retailer can tell you that their next customer is likely to be a previous customer. They use direct mail and other means to invite them to return. When was the last time you asked previous clients if they needed your services? Out of site is out of mind, so make generating repeat business one of your marketing strategies.
Most businesses also know that positive word of mouth is their friend. You can sit back and hope your clients will tell others about you, or you can motivate positive word of mouth by asking your clients—by phone or email—for referrals and testimonials.
You can also ask people you know to tell others about you. This simple but powerful marketing tool is known as networking. A number of organized groups—chambers of commerce, boards of trades, trade associations—stage formal networking events. If you are not there, you are not meeting potential new clients.
Why not advertise? When I suggest that freelancers advertise, they look askance. I’m not asking you to run full page ads in the Toronto Star. You can do a lot with a modest budget. Figure out who is most likely to hire you, and then target publications those people read.
If Human Resources managers are most likely to hire you, target HR trade publications. If you work mainly in the financial services industry, why not take out a small ad or classified ad in a trade publication that reaches your audience?
While you may not be a big business, you can still promote yourself. Let editors of publications that reach your target market know that you are willing to be interviewed for articles that deal with writing or communication issues. You may even ask to write a short article on your area of expertise for the publication. That is solid exposure for freelancers who target specific corporate sectors.
Use the Web to source business contacts in your sector and promote your services using cold calling and direct mail. Since marketing is a numbers game, you should be sending out several direct mail pitches per week.
Finally, my website—paullima.com—is important to me. It brings in several new prospects per month. Not all the companies that contact me through my website become clients, but then not all companies that I send promotional material to become clients. Many of my repeat clients found me through my website, or received my promotional material and visited my website before contacting me. So make sure you have a website, and investigate social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging. I am not saying you should use social media, but you should learn about it and make conscious decisions about using, or not using, it.
Not every arrow in the marketing quiver will hit the target every time, but if you are not taking shots, in a planned and systematic manner, you may never hit the target. So remind yourself that you are in business, and start marketing like it matters. Because if you are in business, marketing does matter.
See the Everything You Wanted to Know about Freelance Writing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jM5mDxK1VZA
Paul Lima is a freelance writer, business writing trainer and author of several books on business writing and the business of freelance writing. Read more about Paul’s books online: http://www.paullima.com/books.