Tag Archives: freelance wrting; writing

Marketing yourself as a writer

So yesterday, I did something that I’ve been meaning to do for awhile now. I ordered business cards for my writing business. Yes, I know – I could have done it cheaper and created them myself, but I figured that whenever I market my writing business, I should do it right. So I ordered the cards.

Do I need business cards? I honestly don’t know. I have done well gaining clients through sources like kijiji and elance and even by referrals. In fact, most of my clients have hired me before ever even meeting me in person – so I would not have had the opportunity to hand them a business card.

Still – I wanted the cards. If they turn out to be useful, that might be a topic for another blog post.

As my business has grown from a casual hobby to a respectable side gig, I have taken a number of steps to better market my writing business.

I’ve advertised on kijiji which has been very successful.

I hired a contractor from elance to create my logo.

I’ve made a point of making regular posts on Facebook, Twitter and Google +.

I’ve started this website and blog.

And now, I will soon have business cards which I can hand to people when they ask me what I do or when I am at networking events.

It’s not always easy or convenient to promote my freelance writing. There are times when I get so mired in work from clients, that I tend to focus on that to the exclusion of my personal marketing. But I know that it’s something that I do need to work on.

I’d be curious to hear from other freelancers. How to you market yourself as a writer?

The art of doing (almost) nothing

Well, today is the last day of my mini vacation from my day job. I took the time, not because I was heading off to some exotic location (although that would have been wonderful) – but essentially because I have vacation time that I’ll lose if I don’t use it up by our corporate year end.

My plan was to get a few things done around the house, get my hair done, do a bit of shopping as well as work on my freelance business. Not exactly a movie script I know – but it’s exciting to me. 🙂

Did I get everything that I planned to do done? Nope!

Of course some of my lack of productivity was my fault – a combination of procrastination and just being over tired. And part of my productivity was derailed by other circumstances (like my brother-in-law from Tennessee coming to London for almost a week) 😉

But I definitely feel more rested and ready to become a productive member of society again 🙂

And it was good building my business too – I was able to gain a new client and have also had some communication with two other prospects.

So while I feel like I’ve done almost nothing this past week – I do feel rather refreshed and recharged. Maybe I accomplished more than I think I did…

Seven Writing Resolutions for a Mind-Blowing 2015

Happy New Year everyone – I can still say that right? I think until at least the end of January, it is ok to say Happy New Year. (My husband says it until practically March, but I think that’s going a bit too far don’t you?)

As far as my writing career goes, 2014 was pretty epic. I gained some great new clients and I really developed a process for incorporating writing into my everyday life. And if 2014 was epic, I’m looking to make 2015 absolutely mind blowing (in a good way, of course.)

So here are my 2015 writing resolutions:

1. Write at least 2000 words 5 days a week

2. To consistently make social media posts – 1x per day on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, and at lease 1x per week on LinkedIn

3. To meet at least one potential client each week.

4. To finally have some business cards made up,

5. To post on my own blog (here) at least bi-weekly.

6. To read daily (even if it’s just a little)

7. And to become more proficient with my WordPress site

Can you really make money as a freelance writer?

A friend of mine recently asked if me if it was possible to make a living as a full time freelance writer. Well, as someone who has been growing her own freelance business for a number of years now, of course I know that the answer to that question is “yes”.

But the real question I think is, how is it possible? What traits do you require or what steps should you take to establish a decent freelancing business?

Here are a few tips that I can give based on my own experience:

First, establish whether or not you really want to pursue freelance writing.

You’ve got to be passionate about writing…and have some talent

If you’re going to be a writer, you’ve got to put in the time and dedication. You’ve got to be self-disciplined enough to sit down at your computer every night and bang out as much content as you possibly can. You’ve also got to be fairly quick.

How do you know if you’re passionate about writing? Ask yourself if you write already – without the carrot of a paycheck. If you do, you are probably passionate about writing. And as an added bonus, it means that you are building a stockpile of writing samples that you can send to prospective clients.

Find ways to get clients

In my business, I’ve obtained clients from a number of sources. I’ve had referrals from friends and family; referrals from other clients; and I’ve used sites such as elance.com to apply for writing gigs that I was interested in.

By far however, my most successful source of clients has been kijiji.com – I’ve posted my own ads on kijiji and also used the site to search the “wanted” posts for people and companies who might require my services.

Specialize

When I first started writing seriously as a business, I would take any assignments that I could get – even if they were not really in my sweet spot. This was ok, and I earned some decent money doing it, but a lot of the time it was not enjoyable.

Now I specialize in website content writing and business writing. If someone wants help writing a novel, I have other writers that I can refer them to. This allows me to focus on what I do best and give the best service possible to my clients.

If you are starting out as a freelancer, you might take any job you can get at the beginning, but over time you’ll want to find your niche.

Hire other experts

As your business grows, you may have to employ the help of other experts. Earlier this year, I decided that for continued growth in my business, I would have to start branding myself more professionally. To help me accomplish this, I hired a designer to create my logo. Perhaps, I could have come up with something myself, but I doubt it would have been half as professional and slick looking as what I ended up with.

I also paid my accountant to help me apply for my hst number and show me how to file. Again, I could have done this on my own – but it was not really an aspect of my business that I felt comfortable doing on my own. So I saved myself the stress, and got help.

And really, isn’t that what people do when they hire freelance writers? They take a job that they need to have done (writing) and they get a professional to do it for them.

Are you a freelancer or trying to break into the market? I would love to hear your tips in the comments section!

Setting Goals… and Limits

It’s no secret that running what has now become a full time business as well as working at a full time job can fill your days. Over the last six months or so the writing business has grown to the point where I could quite possibly be sitting in front of my laptop banging out content 24/7 – if that’s what I wanted to do.

To be honest, sometimes that’s tempting. I love what I’m doing.

But never ending work – even work that you love – is far from a healthy way to live. So, I must have a way to manage my work – especially if I like to enjoy a social life as well!

I’ve always been good at setting goals for myself – but I’ve been less good at setting limits. And I think that setting limits is important too. That’s not something you hear a lot in business circles. You are more likely to hear cliché’s like “the sky’s the limit” or “don’t limit yourself.”

And in the context of human potential, I agree somewhat with these sentiments.

But in terms of what you can actually accomplish in a day – you have to set reasonable boundaries – because cardiac wards are full of people who didn’t believe in setting limits.

So recently, as a freelance writer – I’ve set a daily word count goal/limit for myself. There have been days where I have failed to reach that goal – but there have been other days where I just seem to get into a groove and I exceed the limit.

But overall – having a set number of words to reach for has been tremendously helpful – both in the operation of my business and allowing me to have a social life as well.

And the word count is not going to stay stagnant either. I’m working on ways to increase it and grow my business  – because I definitely think that there is growth potential.

The point is, that if you have your own freelance business – you know that goals are important – but set some limits too. Because there is more to life than work!

Time to Quit Slacking on my Blog

I’ve been slacking off with my own blog these days. That’s a big no-no in the world of search engine optimization. If you’d like people to visit your website on a regular basis, you need to give them good reason to do so. Regular infusions of fresh new content is one way to get people to keep coming back to your site.

That said, however – I’m busier than ever with my regular freelance jobs. (Part of the reason why my personal blog has been taking a back seat lately).

I’ve also been preparing for my second degree black belt in seikido (which is a combination of taekwondo and aikido). And now that the test is over, it seems that a semblance of a more normal life and schedule is more achievable. Of course, now we’re getting into the Christmas season, so maybe not!

On the freelance writing front, I’ve recently completed the content for several landing pages for a European style patisserie in Toronto. Fortunately, I didn’t get too much drool on the keyboard while writing about chocolate mousse cake and macarons!

And now I’m on to the topics of spray foam insulation as well as a good deal of content for a Toronto based law firm. Add to that, I have just pitched some more gardening blog ideas to another client (which can be somewhat of a challenge during the winter.)

It’s much easier to write about the weather.

Overall though, it is a pretty exciting time in my freelancing career. I’ve recently obtained my hst number, as I expect no shortage of work in 2015. Quality web content for business has never been more important.

But I’m not trying to do it all. I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to be successful is to do what you’re good at and recruit a really good team to do the rest.

That’s why I met with my accountant after getting my hst number so he could explain to me how to file with the government – plus I had my husband (who is a financial advisor and numbers guy extraordinaire) with me because he’s an important part of my team and in all likelihood, the one I’ll be getting to file for me. J Because my strengths are with words – not so much with numbers.

And when you think about it – that’s why clients hire me. Because I play an important role on their team. They are lacking either the time or expertise to write their own web content. Their time is much better spent on other aspects of their business.

So there you have it – do what you’re good at – and recruit a great team to do the rest – it works!

On the Side – Learning About “Everything” Through Freelancing

As a freelance writer – especially one that does web content for business, you have to be good a researching quickly. And you have to be good at researching pretty much everything. For several years I have worked for clients in which the generally theme or topic of each blog or article stayed pretty much the same.

I wrote articles about wine for an entertainment magazine – the focus of each article was different of course, but the article were – for the most part – always about wine.

I currently have a client for whom I write articles about gardening – and another client for whom I write articles about the weather.  And these are pretty constant.

But I have another client for whom I write articles about EVERYTHING. Ok, maybe that’s a stretch – not everything – but certainly some topics that have been new to me – forklifts, asbestos removal, dental implants and methadone clinics to name a few.

So as a freelancer, you need to become a Google Master. You need to become a student of the topic you are writing about – keeping in mind this is not a four year dissertation but a crash course because your client needs your content quickly.

Not every topic is exciting at first – sometimes you have to work at making it exciting. But it can be done.

Learning about new topics is also one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts about content writing for business. There are some topics that I think I’m not going to like and they turn out to be far more interesting than I would have imagined.

Topics that I find less interesting, I take as personal challenges. “How can I present this topic in a way the would appeal.. to me?… and you? … and anyone else visiting a particular website?” One way to do this is to relate it to everyday experiences. Starting a sentence with “imagine if” can do wonders for a topic that seems dull at first. Using just the right amount of humour can also be extremely helpful in getting you into a writing groove.

And you know what – when you take the time – any topic can be rewarding both to learn and write about!