An excerpt from Become a Freelance Writer by Rachael Oku (Enterprise Nation - March, 2013)
CHAPTER 1 - Operate Like a Pro
To establish yourself as a credible freelance writer there are a few things you’ll need to do. It’s particularly important to ensure you’re viewed in the best possible light. It’s a big part of how you win work.
Before we get on to marketing and self-promotion, you need to create a brand and identity that is both memorable and identifiable with your area of expertise.
To woo the big boys and give your competition a run for their money follow these simple steps …
BUILD A BRAND
Perhaps the most important aspect of building your freelance operation is to approach it like a business. After all, it really is a small business when you think about it – and as with any other business, reputation and word-of-mouth marketing are key.
If you can get into this mindset it becomes a whole lot easier to separate yourself and your personal views from your work. A good way of doing so may even be to create a pen name and treat that as your brand. At the very least you will need to come up with a name for your freelance services.
What to call yourself?
You’ll want something that’s catchy, relevant to the work you do, easy to remember and easy to spell. Think about what online keywords you’d like to hit. For example, should the word ‘writer’ be in there somewhere? Do you want to use your full name or opt for something that expresses your writing style or focus?
One of my favourite names for a freelance writing business is ABC Copywriting, run by Tom Albrighton. Everything he could possibly want to convey is summed up in that name.
Also, consider your potential URL. Really long domain names can be confusing, as can ones with unorthodox spellings. The aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to find you.
In order to balance the commercial and the personal aspects of your brand personality you’ll need to consider brand guidelines. Nothing too rigid, as the beauty of being a freelance writer is the versatility you offer. But you’ll need to have a rough idea of how you’d like to portray your business before you can start marketing your services.
POSITION YOURSELF AS AN EXPERT
To ensure you stand out, think about what areas of expertise you have that will make you more valuable than your competition.
When many think of an ‘expert’ they think of an academic who has been working in her field for decades. Alternatively, people figure an expert is someone who makes a lot of money or is a household name.
Thankfully, these days anyone who is good at what he or she does and boasts insider knowledge can position themselves as a voice of authority in their field.
If you work in a niche industry or have good knowledge of a specialist or emerging subject, capitalise on it in the following ways:
- Develop relationships with reporters and become their go-to expert for quotes or soundbites.
- Speak at events relevant to your industry – discussion panels are a great way to test the water.
- Teach and pass on what you’ve learned (go down the higher education route and provide guest lectures at colleges and universities, or design and run your own educational programmes delivered in person or online).
- Claim your topic – read the latest trade publications, blogs and journals and keep abreast of industry trends; offer to contribute guest posts or be interviewed.
- Use social media to engage with influencers and consumers in your field.
- Create reports and useful statistics as a by-product of your market research (this can be as simple as utilising feedback from your clients or readers).
- Write about your industry with a view to getting published or heading down the self-publishing route.
- Gather testimonials from previous clients and put together a case study.
- Enter competitions.
- Volunteer your services as a mentor or advisor.
CREATE A PLATFORM
As a freelance writer, if you can’t be Googled you don’t exist. There is no excuse for not having an online home.
When it comes to building your online base, there are a few key things you’ll need to include. The rest is up to you:
- A brief introduction such as a biography or ‘about’ page.
- An outline of the services you offer.
- Examples of your work. No need to detail your CV, but an overview of the variety of roles you’ve held and demonstration of your versatility is crucial, as are links to previously published work to support your statements. This will help prospective clients get a feel for your writing style.
- Contact information such as an email address and social media channels.
If you'd like to read more Become a Freelance Writer can be purchased for £5 from Enterprise Nation.
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