How To Market Your Writing Services Online
by Joanne Phillips
Recently someone commented to me that I seem to be doing a pretty good job of promoting my writing services on the internet. I was touched by the observation – we writers get so many rejections that a little praise is especially gratifying. And I began to wonder – what does it take to market yourself successfully as a jobbing writer today?
The world of computers and the internet changes so quickly that it is easy to get left behind. Only two years ago I wrote an article for Freelance Market News about a relatively new phenomena, Blogging, and one of its offshoots, the Blook. Now blogs are pretty old hat, and blooks never really took off after all. But the internet is still a fertile ground for writers. You just need to know how to make it work for you...
Writers often ask whether they should have their own website, and the answer is always a resounding Yes, of course you should! Writers work alone, often at home, and what they need more than anything is a ‘shop front’. Just like your local bookshop, you need a window where the world can view the services you offer, the expertise you bring. And make no mistake, today’s service users (including agents, magazine editors, publishers and more) will want to take a look at your website before they do anything else.
Your website doesn’t need to be elaborate or flashy, with clever graphics and gadgets. A writer’s website should be well written, with interesting and informative text, a few well-chosen pictures or photos, and an easy way to make contact. Tailor-made websites can be expensive, but there are many companies offering off-the-peg sites for a reasonable fee. My own website is built using such a service. Take a look at www.joannephillips.co.uk
You will need to choose a domain name – the address people type into their browser when they want to visit your site. This can be either your own name or a name which relates to what you do – such as writersservices.com. These can be purchased alone, or as part of a package from your web hosting service.
We can’t talk about websites without touching on the subject of search engine optimisation – or SEO, as it is often called. This is a huge topic of expertise, and one which I can’t adequately cover here, but writers should know that even amateur websites can be optimised very simply. Take some time to research SEO, and push your site up the listings.
Over the past few years ezines have become incredibly popular, and are far more than merely web-based versions of print magazines. They offer targeted information, and hundreds of new ezines are appearing every week. As a writer, you can utilise ezines to promote your services for free.
Businesses use ezines to provide potential clients with targeted information. Articles are often taken from a free resource site, such as www.ezinearticles.com, bundled together, and sent out to mailing lists which often consist of over a million subscribers. Targeted ezines cover all kinds of topics, from health to motor sport, from accounting to woodwork. There is bound to be a market for the type of article you like to write.
How it works
If you decide to become an ezine article writer, you need to understand that you don’t get paid for the ezine articles you write. These articles go into the free-resource bank, ready to be picked up by ezine owners and publishers all over the world. Think of it like delayed gratification – your reward will come when somebody likes your article so much they contact you and ask you to write more.
Trust me – this will happen. I write a column and regular articles for a popular parenting website on the back of one free ezine article. The website owner picked up my free article and contacted me to ask for more. Each article you write has a ‘signature box’ at the end, which includes details about you, the writer, as well as a link to your website. (This is another reason why you need a website.) If you can write informative and entertaining articles on any subject, your services will be in demand on the web.
Freelance Writing Websites
As a jobbing writer, freelancing websites provide bread-and-butter work, as well as the chance to bid on some exciting larger projects. My personal favourite is www.Elance.com, although there are others such as www.GetAFreelancer.com and www.Guru.com. Service buyers place projects on these sites, giving details of their requirements as well as a budget guideline. Service providers (us) bid on the projects, giving details of our skills and experience.
In the main these freelancing sites work well. There is, however, a lot of competition. It may be necessary to build up a profile by offering writing services at a lower price to begin with. Writers with English as their first language and an engaging style can find interesting work with a little perseverance. Projects include web-articles, ebooks, ghostwriting, user-guides and manuals. Often the articles will be required in batches of ten or more. Bids are made in US Dollars, so keep an eye on exchange rates.
To be a successful writer today, you cannot ignore the opportunities for promotion the internet offers. But once you have set up your website, written a few ezine articles and joined a freelancing website, don’t just sit around waiting for the work to appear in your inbox. Maintain your presence online, with articles, a blog perhaps (old-hat maybe, but still a useful tool for web presence), and social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace. Keep an eye on what other writers are doing to promote themselves. And above all – be creative. After all, that’s what we writers do best.
Joanne Phillips is a UK-based freelance writer and ghostwriter. She has had articles published in national writing magazines, and has ghostwritten books on subjects as diverse as hairdressing and keeping chickens. Visit her at www.joannephillips.co.uk.
© Joanne Phillips 2008