The delicate art of self-promotion

So, you want to be a writer. Or maybe you already are. Presumably, you hope to make a living from your writing. But have you considered how you’re actually going to get found for work?

Being a writer is different to a lot of other industries. Clients are going to be looking for your reputation, experience, work samples and your individual writing style. Taking an ad in the local paper isn’t really the right way to go about getting hired – have you ever seen a writer take an ad offering their services? Me neither. Instead, try these steps to make sure you’re handling your self-promotions with style and grace.

You might not think it matters if you’re a writer, but trust me, there are more writers out there than you can poke a stick at. If your branding is memorable and says something about what you do, you’re doing to have a far better chance of being remembered by potential clients. This is not a DIY step – it’s always best to hire a specialist such as a graphic designer able to give you an edgy brand, because it’s got a better chance of being remembered.

Of course, a decent LinkedIn profile is your first step, but make sure you take the time to get this right. The mistake many make is not using the summary section of their profile for the sort of work they want to land and what their special skills are. This summary should be used to sell what you do well, as opposed to what you’ve done in the past. Some relevant posts can work wonders, too, so consider sharing your blogs on LinkedIn.

Of course, a website is a great tool, too. Ideally, this will include a decent synopsis of what sort of writer you are, the sort of work you’re in the market for, and if you’re lucky enough to have some experience, some samples of your published work and even some testimonials. While this can be done for free by building your own site via WordPress or Wix, make sure it’s spot-on before you go live, and that all the links work. Sites like WP Curve offers prompt support, or hire a freelance web designer able to deal with any coding issues you might have.

Once you’ve got your website built, how do you actually get your website found? Sure, if a potential client knows your name, they can Google you and land on your website, but if you’re one of the thousands of other writers out there, how are they going to find you exactly when they’ve got a project on the go and need your skills?
Be warned that paying for SEO can be expensive.

Of course, a blog is a great way to generate traffic to your site and also to showcase your specific writing style and area of expertise. However, you really need to feed the hungry blog beast on a regular basis, or it can appear that you’ve got commitment issues.

Other spots
SEO to get found under search terms like ‘freelance writer’ can cost thousands, and again, an advertisement on Google isn’t really a great look for a writer.

There are a few websites out there where you can list your name and number, such as the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, or mUmbrella – but unless you’re sure your client will love your Christian name (which you had nothing to do with), these sites don’t give you the tools to attract and retain clients. They can’t see what sort of writer you are or any previous work samples on these sites.

The Freelance Collective
The lack of places for a freelancer to promote themselves is exactly why a small group of freelancers have built a new online home for Australian freelance and independent writers to get found. We know that getting found for a project at exactly the same time a client is looking for someone with your skills and experience can be been a challenge.

The Freelance Collective is an affordable place ($9 a month) to create your own profile page in your own words, a link to your website, social media links, photos, links to works you’ve had published. You can cancel your profile anytime too, or remove your profile for a few months until the work dries up again, and then add your profile again.

Profile holders also get a weekly newsletter of tips and freelance advice, access to private Facebook group for support and best of all, a great chance to being found by clients as and when they’re in the market for a freelance writer with your specific skills.

So remember. While writing assignments are one element of the writing career ahead of you, so is self-promotion, and you’ll need to dedicate some time and energy to telling your story succinctly so you get found among the legions of other writers also scrambling for work.

Nina Hendy is the founder of The Freelance Collective – a brand new Australian site for freelance writers to create a profile page and get found by editors, publishers, brands and agencies looking for their skills.

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