Around a year ago, when I left my job for a career in freelance writing, the biggest challenge in front of me was to make enough money every month to keep my kitchen expenses running. To say that I was under pressure would be an understatement.
Like most freelancing newbies, I started out promoting myself as a one window solution for all the content needs of any organization. There was no niche I could not write about and no topic that I couldn’t cover. In my view, I was any client’s dream writer.
Fast forward 10 months, my kitchen expenses are more than covered and I no longer run after clients for pennies. I charge a healthy hourly rate for my freelance writing projects and have the liberty of choosing when to work and when not to.
I am still any client’s dream freelance writer, or so I would like to think, but I am not a one-window solution anymore.
You know why?
Because the era of specialist freelance writers has well & truly arrived!
What Does that Mean for You?
There are two ways to look at this.
You can either start panicking because you feel you’re a jack of all trades but master of none. Or, you can look at it as an opportunity to accelerate your growth as a freelance writer and charge much higher rates for your work.
The second option seems much better to me.
Can’t understand what I’m saying? Let me explain further.
Content is the King and Google is the Kingmaker
I’ve heard a lot of freelance writers say that Google is any writer’s best friend. I am not sure why exactly they say that, but I have my own reasons for agreeing with this popular notion.
Every online business needs traffic to convert their one-time visitors into loyal customers, and search engines, Google in particular, are the most vital sources of traffic for them.
Google makes or breaks content based on one simple criterion: quality
By gradually increasing its focus towards the quality of content, Google has not only forced online businesses to cut off any duplicate or low quality content from their websites, but also made them work much harder for a prominent place in search engine results.
This is where freelance writers come in.
But just as Google forced businesses to cut off low quality and generic content from their websites, it also forced them to look for specialists who could write high quality and high value content that not only provides actionable information to the readers but also encourages them to share it on different social networking websites.
The Rise of the Specialist Freelance Writers
Gone are the days when people could simply copy and paste content from different websites to put together a low quality article that would drive traffic through search engines.
Businesses are no longer interested in “One size fits all” solutions
Businesses are looking for specialists now. They can’t rely on one or two low quality articles to attract search engine traffic for them. They need people who can give value to the readers on a consistent basis, people with real expertise in that area, people who’re not just writers but also consultants, mentors and guides.
The freelance writing industry is booming right now, but only for the specialists. The jacks of all trades are going down quickly, and this is why I am no more a freelancer who can serve clients from any niche.
A Shift in Realities Demands a Shift in Strategy
I see this change as a huge opportunity for freelance writers. But I also know that not all freelancers are going to benefit from it. Not because the opportunity won’t be there, but because they would not make the required shift in their strategies.
Based on my personal experience, of being completely ignored by clients to getting work offers through my blog, I believe freelance writers can benefit from this change if they make three critical strategy shifts in the way they market themselves.
Create Your Own Brand
Brands sell at much higher rates than unbranded products or services. The same holds true for freelance writing as well. When clients look for specialists to write for them, they look for someone with credibility and authority on their core business model.
Focus on building your freelance writing business as a dependable brand in your niche. That’s the only way you can earn the big bucks.
But how do you do that? Here’s how:
- Start a writing blog now! (Read 10 Reasons Why Every Freelance Writer Should Have a Website)
- Establish your freelance copywriter brand around your blog by regularly posting interesting content that would make your potential clients take notice.
- Add a “Hire Me” page on your blog. This is critical. Be specific in how you can help. Limit yourself in the areas where you deliver results and present yourself as an authority in those areas. Be confident.
Be an Aggressive Marketer
Writing alone is not going to get you much attention. You need to go out there and tell the world about yourself. Once you’ve determined your areas of expertise, take a closer look at your target market. Find out the best places to engage them and use every opportunity to get in touch with them.
To make this more actionable for you, here are a few things you should start doing immediately:
- Identify the top platforms and forums where your target customers are most likely to be found. They can be websites, online discussion forums or social media groups.
- Guest blog on the most popular and effective blogs of your niche. Write from a customer’s perspective and offer actionable solutions to problems that others are not tackling.
- Make sure that your social media and professional profiles are designed to project you as a dependable resource in your niche. Clients always look at them.
- Promote your blog posts on relevant forums. One website that I have personally benefitted from is Scoop.it. It’s a content curation platform where users arrange different blog posts and articles based on their interests. I personally found a few clients just by posting my articles on Scoop.it.
Network with the Best
Yesterday, I received an email from one of the top bloggers in the infographic and web design niche, a topic I often write about. He wanted to introduce me to a company that approached him for work, but since he wasn’t interested, he referred me for the project!
There are no limits to how you can connect, just make sure the connection is genuine
This is how networking works. It is undoubtedly one of the most critical things for you as a freelance writer. Get in touch with the top guys in your niche. Don’t stay in isolation, you’ll get nowhere. Connecting with the top writers in your niche not only increases your chances of referral clients, but also gives you the opportunity to learn from their marketing and branding strategies.
Here are a few action points to help you:
- Identify the top writers in your niche, and start following their blogs and social media profiles.
- Give serious and valuable feedback in the comments section of their posts.
- Regularly communicate with them through emails, Tweets and Facebook comments for feedback, guidance and advice.
- Mention them occasionally in your blog posts and link back to their articles.
You might not see the results of networking activities immediately, but they do pay off. And as I said before, if you don’t get client referrals immediately, you still get the opportunity to learn from the more successful writers in your niche.
Let Me Sum it Up for You
Freelance writing can offer you a lucrative career if you play your cards correctly. Focus on your strongest areas, brand yourself accordingly and market you services aggressively. Focus on working with 4-5 long term clients instead of writing for hundreds of one time projects. The stronger your brand becomes, the greater your chances of getting noticed by the clients that matter.
These strategies worked for me. What works for you? I’d love to hear your feedback and comments.