Hard news first, you need to market yourself as a writer if you want to make a living writing! The goal here is to help you become an authentic marketer.
How to Market Yourself as a Writer
I know, I get it. You HATE marketing. And talking about yourself? Yeah, I know. You hate talking about yourself too. But here’s the thing, when you’re self-employed you need marketing to get work. When you’re a freelance writer you need to market YOU in order to get clients. This is tough stuff, I know. But you need to put yourself out there. You need to market yourself as a writer.
The goal of this post is to help you understand how to market yourself as a writer. In an authentic way. Without being a sleaze-ball. Yes, it’s possible to talk about yourself in a way that doesn’t feel weird or braggy.
Because you need to market yourself as a writer if you want to make a living from your writing!
When I first struck out as a freelancer I wasn’t sure how to sell myself to a potential client. So instead I defaulted to applying to random job board adverts and Craigslist postings. And it was OK. Not great. But OK.
Then I came across a two-hour seminar at my local art gallery taught by a freelance writer about…well, freelance writing. How to get started. And I was like, YES! This is what I need!
I attended the seminar and connected with a couple people there. Those connections led me to a professional writer’s organization and connections with many more professional and freelance writers. From there I found a mentor and found my career moving forward. If I hadn’t put myself out there and asked “how do I make this happen?” I don’t know where I would be now.
Then what happened?
As I advanced in my skills and learned the different types of writing, I discovered much of the time my clients had a marketing problem as well as a writing problem. In fact, once I learned how to combine the two skills things really began taking off.
And I also discovered many writers have marketing problems. They’re great at writing about others but when it comes to talking about what they do they’re struck with writer’s block. They fumble, they ramble, they stress right out.
It’s time to fix that.
How to market yourself as a writer
There is a way to talk about who you are and what you do without coming across as promotional or insincere. But you have a few mental barriers to overcome before you’ll see it. So many people see marketing as sleazy, scary, and overwhelming and if you can’t get past that perception then you’ll never feel comfortable talking about your work. I’ve talked to so many writers about this I’m pretty sure the objections against marketing narrow down to about four excuses.
Reasons why you think you hate marketing yourself
- You don’t know what to say
- Or because you don’t want to get shot down
- Maybe you don’t know how to explain what you do
- You don’t want to limit your options by putting yourself out there
Identify with any of these? I get it! But let’s move past them and flip the conversation around. Think about the people you write for, the problems you solve for clients and readers with your writing and the solution you provide for your readers/clients. Yes you may be a generalist but even then you have a “type.” Think about it a bit, commit a few ideas to writing, and then think about how you can describe the service you provide to others.
By the way, we talked about this a bit in how to write an elevator pitch so you may already have these jotted down somewhere.
Crafting an elevator pitch is an awesome way to talk about yourself. It’s short, to the point, and focuses on the benefits you offer.
When you talk about how you serve others you turn the conversation around from “me-focused” to “others-focused.” And that changes marketing from sleazy to helpful. Just like that. Because if you’re providing a valuable service to the world, why wouldn’t you want people to know about it? If you could help someone grow their business through your writing services…don’t you owe it to them to at least share how you could help them?
See what I’m saying? By learning how to market yourself as a writer you learn how to put yourself out there by focusing on your clients. You highlight the value your work brings to others’ lives and how your writing could help this person with their current struggle.
No pressure. No sales pitch. Just relationship building.
This is why I love marketing. Because I know there are so many talented, amazing people out there who are working at making the world a better place. But most of the time we’ll never hear about it unless they share it with us. By learning how to talk about yourself and what you do in a genuine, helpful, others-focused way, you shed the skin of creepy-scary-pushy-marketing and enter into a much friendlier space where you make new friends, share your stories, and look for opportunities to collaborate.
The bottom line is this. People don’t care about what you do, they care about the benefit they’ll get from working with you.
This isn’t meant to be harsh, (but…it’s not about you, so let’s rip the bandage off now shall we?) just a re-framing of how we look at our businesses. You care a lot about what you do, and you should. But when you market yourself as a writer, you need to keep it outward-focused so potential clients can see the benefit to THEM by working with you.
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