How You Can Promote Your Freelance Writing on Social Media

When I started freelance copywriting in 2016, I had zero clients.

 

I had zero professional writing experience.

 

I had zero sales experience.

 

Needless to say, I was a little nervous. (That’s an understatement. I was terrified.) I wasn’t sleeping well in those days, and I was constantly jittery because I was living on a diet of coffee and cigarettes. With nightmares every night and a constant feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere in life, something had to change.

 

I had to learn how to do professional writing. I had to learn how to sell professional writing. And I had to straighten out the undisciplined mess of my life and make myself into something respectable.

 

Why am I telling you all this? It’s not because I’m trying to show off what I’ve done since then. It’s not because I love talking about myself. It’s not even because I’ve got a perverse love of sharing things I’m ashamed of.

 

I’m telling you this because if I can build a successful freelance writing business, you can too. It takes time and dedication. It takes patience, planning, and a lot of hard work. But if you really want to, you can live your freelance dreams.

 

If you make it happen, it won’t be a dream anymore.

 

Anyways, to business: I’m here to tell you about how to promote a freelance writing business on social media. What I had to learn with months of trial and error, I’m going to tell you right now. I’ve developed these strategies over the course of the last year and a half, and I’m still developing them even now.

 

With these methods, I’ve managed to build up a steady stream of traffic to my website. Some of the visitors to my site have chosen to contact me to hire my services. And some of those clients have become long-term partners.

 

It all starts with successfully driving traffic to your site. And today I’m going to tell you how to use social media to do that.

 

Put Together Your Customer Persona

What’s a customer persona, you ask?

 

It’s pretty simple, but it’s one of the most important concepts in marketing and copywriting, so you’re going to want to understand it perfectly. You’re a writer though, so it shouldn’t be too hard for you to catch on.

 

A customer persona is a detailed description of your ideal reader. You want to get to know this person in detail before you ever put your marketing plan together. You want to be able to know this person so well you could predict their thoughts.

 

Who is your ideal reader? What’s brought her to your website? What’s she worrying about right now, and what does she need to hear from you?

 

It’s important to know this stuff. Because you’re not writing for just anyone. You’re writing for one person. You’re writing for the one reader who will light up as soon as she reads what you’ve written. The person who’s heart will go pitter-patter just as soon as she sees your words.

 

Remember: you have to write as if you were talking to someone right across the table from you. That’s why you want to go to the effort to imagine this person in as much detail as you possibly can.

 

You need to be writing for someone you know well, in other words. This person is your friend. You need to be able to express a real and warm affection. We all feel a little oppressed by the roles we have to play in our jobs, in our lives, and in the world as a whole. We’re all longing for a connection that’s deeper and more real.

 

So take the time to get to know the kind of person you’re meant to work with. Take the time to learn what this person is afraid of. What this person wants. What this person dreams about at night.

 

Know their business needs. But above all, know their human needs. That’s how you learn how you can truly serve the people you’re meant to serve.

 

Marketing Your Website/Content—Draw Clients Passively

Now that you know who you’re reaching out to, you need to go on social media and find ways to reach them. I’ve gone in-depth about my methods on this in an earlier post, but I’ll give the short version here. This is the funnel I use to attract visitors to my site.

 

  1. Spread a wide net on Twitter
    • With Twitter, I try to get my content to reach as many eyeballs as possible.
    • One of the ways I do that is through posting links to my site, but also by sharing links to sites with great content.
    • I retweet content from people who retweet my content. That way we extend each other’s reach and multiply our effectiveness. (When freelancers work together, we can make things easier for all of us.)
    • Every once in a while I share a link inviting interested Twitter followers to follow a link to my LinkedIn account.
  2. Funnel the Twitter audience to LinkedIn
    • I accept the invitations from people who add me from Twitter, and I make an effort to get to know them.
    • I post links to my site, but I also share content I’ve found in other places. I make sure it’s the kind of thing that appeals to the people I’ve gotten to know in my customer persona.
    • It’s important to keep active in the LinkedIn community. I join groups, comment on posts, and share things I find valuable. Especially when I want to get to know someone better (we’ll talk about this later) I find little ways to help them. Everyone is going to like it when you “Like” or share a post for them, or even add a thoughtful comment with some clear thoughts and observations. It’s the things like that that set you out of the herd.
  3. Produce quality content
    • You’re going to need to put some content up somewhere. That could mean starting a website. It could mean doing long-form LinkedIn posts. It could mean starting an account on Medium. But you need some way of building up an audience and somewhere to direct them where they can take a look at your work.
    • Now, I mention creating quality content—that means writing the kind of thing your ideal customer would like to see. And as much as it pains me to say it, that means you can’t use this place to express yourself freely. You’re here to share valuable knowledge about how to do something. Believe me: I know how that pains you. (It sure pains me!) But the content you put on your site isn’t about you. It’s about your reader.

 

This is only the briefest outline of the kind of thing you’re going to need to get together to have a viable website, but it should give you an idea of the process.

 

When I was building my freelance writing business, one of the constant things I had to contend with was a constant feeling of being overwhelmed by all the things I had to do.

 

So if you’re feeling that way reading the outline I’ve put up there: don’t worry about it. What you’re seeing here is a refined process that I’ve built up over time. You can start slowly. When I was just starting out, I was just as overwhelmed as you are now.

 

Be real.

Direct Outreach—Find Clients Proactively

But let’s say you don’t have a ton of time to wait around for clients to come along organically. You’ve got to rustle up some new business fast.

 

Don’t worry about it. There are ways of doing that. So now I’m going to tell you how to get clients through direct outreach while you’re building your system for attracting clients passively.

 

First off: you need to get your list together.

 

What list is that? It’s the list of your prospects. These are the people you’re going to directly reach out to. You’ll want to know their business, their name, a good email address, and all of that. (There’s a lot that goes into that process, and I’ll tell you about it in a few weeks.) But beyond all those technical details, you’re going to want to know a little about the people you’re talking to as human beings.

 

It all comes back to what we were talking about with the customer persona. You want to make sure the people on your list match that customer persona pretty well. You could talk to everybody on God’s green earth without finding someone who matches your persona precisely, but you want to make sure you’re reaching out to the people you’d like to work with.

 

Now that you’ve got your list together, you need to put together the message you’re going to send them. It should be interesting, useful, and speak to their needs. Remember: the goal here isn’t to shoot them an email and immediately turn that into a sale. It’s to start a conversation.

 

Just a little side note here: sales becomes immensely easier if you don’t think of it as selling. It’s a mistake to frame the situation as, “I’ve got to make these sales, because if I don’t make these sales I won’t be able to eat, and if I can’t eat I’ll die, and if I die it’ll hurt a lot and people will probably make fun of me at my funeral…” When you’re selling, you’re trying to start a relationship. It’s a business relationship, sure, but on its most basic level it’s a relationship between two human beings.

 

So when you write your email, you don’t want to hide your intentions, but you also don’t want to overemphasize them. You come off as manipulative if you hide your intentions, but you come off as desperate if you push the sale too quickly.

 

The point is this: your prospects are smart and busy. If they’re interested in what you’ve got to offer, they’ll reach out to you. If not, they won’t. You have to let go of the outcome.

 

So you write up those emails and send them out. I’ll write a full blog post about this in a few weeks, but when you’re sending your emails you want to make sure you personalize them. Do you like getting obvious cookie-cutter copy/paste emails? Neither do your prospects.

 

Take the five minutes necessary to get to know a little about your prospects as people. Let that shine through in your emails. You’re reaching out to real human beings. Act like it.

 

Remember: You Can Do This

I realize you might be reading this and thinking, “Oh my God, how can I possibly do this?”

 

And it’s no wonder! This is a lot of information to process all at once, and it’s not easy to do all at once. But you can build up your systems day by day and eventually come up with something that works.

 

You don’t even have to quit your job to start out. You can start out small, only taking one or two clients at a time till you figure out how to freelance on a full-time basis.

 

Even though it can look overwhelming at the beginning, it’s not nearly as tough as it looks.

 

At the moment, you’re probably feeling some serious fear of the unknown. I bet you felt the same way before you learned how to ride a bike. Think about it: riding a bike is a complicated balancing act, and you probably had many accidents in the course of figuring it out. You probably had to have training wheels while you were learning.

 

But now you know how to ride a bike easily. You don’t even have to think about it. You just hop on the bike and you’re on your way, with the wind in your hair and your legs pumping up and down in time.

 

It’s just the same with freelancing. Start small. Build a small system that works, then expand it once you’ve done that. It’s not a dream. It’s something you can have if you commit to it.

 

Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about freelancing. I’m always trying to tailor this blog to your needs, so I’d appreciate the help.

 

And I know some of you don’t like to post publicly, so feel free to contact me by email at geofreycrow@crowcopywriting.com if you’d rather do it that way.

 

Good luck, and good copywriting!

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How to Sell via Email

 

Selling with email is important. It’s a good way to drum up business quickly. The only faster way is for you to do cold calls—but if you’re like me you’d really rather stick your hand into a hot skillet than make a cold call!

 

So let me guide you through the process and show you the basics of email selling.

 

The main things I’m going to focus on are:

  1. Cold (or warm!) email prospecting, and
  2. Building an email newsletter and turning it into a sales tool.

 

With cold email, you’re reaching out directly to prospects at their email addresses. They usually don’t know you, and you don’t know them. I’m going to go over how to use this kind of email to build relationships with prospects and steadily warm them up to the idea of buying from you.

 

An email newsletter is more of a long-term selling plan, but as time goes by it should be able to drive even more business to your door. The trick is to get your site’s visitors interested in giving you their contact information and then to keep up a steady stream of useful emails that keep up buying desire.

 

So now you know what to expect, so let’s go.

 

Cold Email Prospecting

Who doesn’t love prospecting?

The first thing you need to do with your cold email prospecting is find your prospects. You’ll have to compile your own list of prospects and get them ready to go. It’s good to use a spreadsheet for this kind of thing.

 

First, you need to find some way to identify the businesses you want to reach out to. A good way to do this is through searching on LinkedIn, Google, or a local networking site. You can focus on one particular industry if you already know your niche, or you can try a selection of industries if you’re still working on it.

 

Personally, in my freelance work I trawl LinkedIn for leads. I’ll focus on one industry, and I’ll try to target any business with less than 200 employees. (Businesses that are much bigger than that generally have well-developed marketing departments and won’t be likely to need a freelancer.)

 

Once you find the business, you should try to hunt down an email address. You want to find an individual’s email address, and it’s best if you can find somebody who can make the decision to buy from you.

 

Finding a good email address is a major problem in these situations. Fortunately, there are plenty of services (like Hunter or Kompass) to help out with just this problem. Also, InMail is an option for LinkedIn users, and it may justify the cost of a premium LI account.

 

Now, once you’ve identified your targets and you’ve got your email addresses, the time has come for you to send your actual emails.

 

Especially if you’re short on business, it’s tempting to think that the best way to do this is to send out a stack of form emails so you can get responses from as many people as possible.

 

Bad idea. When you’re doing this, you want to put serious work into personalizing each email. Demonstrate that you’ve put some effort into learning about the company. Personalize and tailor your pitch to every individual you contact.

 

People can tell if you’re faking it. If you can spot a fake, generic email, they can spot a fake, generic email. If you want to get real opportunities, you have to prove you’re willing to invest a little bit of yourself into making a connection with your prospect’s needs. Because ultimately selling isn’t about making the sale. It’s about making a connection.

 

Email Lists

Not that kind of list…

As a long term strategy, you can market your business over time by building an email list. Creating a newsletter and building relationships over time is a good way to generate business at a pace that the prospect can determine for himself or herself.

 

The first problem in this process is to encourage the visitors to your site to give you their content information. One way to do this is through gated content.

 

Gated content is content that the visitor can only access after they’ve given you something in exchange. It can be an eBook that your prospects can access in exchange for an email address. It could be a free sample or trial offer of your service. It could be anything you’re willing to exchange.

 

After you’ve got your email list set up, you’ll have a steady flow of new prospects adding their contact info to your list. These lists are extremely valuable, especially if you’ve targeted your offer well.

 

But what do you do with them now?

 

Now you use a batch email tool like MailChimp to contact your prospects. You want to be sure to contact your email list at least once a month, or else your subscribers might forget they’ve signed up in the first place.

 

Frequency is up to you, though. Some prefer a weekly update. Some go biweekly. Some brave souls even go with a daily update.

 

The point isn’t how many emails you send out, though. While that’s an important aspect of email selling, the important thing is that you have a direct connection into your subscribers’ inboxes and you should take advantage of it.

 

Your goal here is to steadily inform your prospects about your services. You don’t want to be overtly salesy, but you do want to make it clear that you’ve got some valuable services to sell. Content is king, but you always want to remember your goal.

 

Never forget that the point of the newsletter is to drive sales. You always want to be educating your subscribers about the value of your offer. If you’re wondering what kind of content should go in your email newsletters, here’s your answer: only the content that makes it clear that you’re the one your prospects need to hire.

 

That could be a link to your blog. It could be market information. It could be a podcast. Whatever form of value you choose to give your subscribers, you should put that into your newsletter.

 

Over time, you’ll find a strategy that works for you. And once you find a strategy that works for you, you’ll be ready to sell.

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How to Build Your Email List

Used correctly, email can be an amazing sales tool. Even in the social media age, email selling is the standard by which all digital marketing is judged.

 

If you’re new to digital marketing, it can be hard to tell where to start with your email selling. And with so much information out there on the subject, it can be hard to tell where to start!

 

Never fear. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do with this blog post: I’m going to come up with a short guide to how you can leverage your online presence into effective email selling that helps you to improve your service and learn about your ideal customers all at once.

 

Of course, I don’t want to hype this up too much. Email selling has been around a while, and it’s definitely not a quick fix method. But if you’re willing to put in the time and the effort to get a good email campaign going, you can turn this into a highly effective tool for driving sales.

 

So as you keep on reading I’ll let you know exactly how to leverage your website into an effective selling tool.

 

Build Traffic with Social Media

Naturally, this whole thing isn’t going to get off the ground until you get some traffic to your website. And while there are many ways to do that, we’re going to focus on social media here.

 

Social media is an indispensable tool for digital marketing. It’s often the first point of contact between you and the people you’re meant to serve.

 

With your social media efforts you’ve got two things you’re most interested in: driving traffic to your site and making connections with prospects and other networkers.

 

Now, this article isn’t about social media marketing, but the point here is that an effective social media strategy will drive plenty of traffic to your site. So you want to be visible on social media. You want to be posting, commenting, and engaging with people. Actively.

 

Of course, I can’t tell you exactly how you should do that. The thing about social media is that you’ve got to develop your own style. If you’re doing it the same way everybody else does it, you might as well not even be doing it.

 

All I can tell you for sure is that you should commit to at least posting once per day on every site you or your organization is on. That will force you to develop your own unique approach.

 

Attract Prospects to Your Site with Quality Content

But what’s the point of having the social media in the first place if you’re not driving traffic back to your site? And how are you going to drive traffic back to your site unless you’ve got some great content to show your followers?

 

Welcome to the wonderful world of content marketing.

 

So what’s content marketing? Well, the short answer is that it’s informational content on your site that attracts readers (or viewers, or listeners) and gives them useful information.

 

Blog posts. Videos. Podcasts. How-to articles. Ebooks. All of that is content marketing.

 

Let’s assume you’re using blog posts. You want to drive your ideal prospects to your site. How do you do that?

 

Well, you write content that matches what your prospects need to see when they’re ready to buy from you. You educate them about what they need to know in order to understand your offer and what it can do for them.

 

The best part of this strategy is that web content lasts a long time. With a solid posting schedule and a good content strategy, you can turn a small site into an authority site and a recognized thought leader in your industry.

 

Build Your List with Gated Content

So you’ve got your traffic flowing into your site with your content. Now what?

 

Now you want to convince those visitors that it’s worth their while to send you their email addresses. You want to open up that flow of communication and foster that relationship.

 

How do you do that? Gated content, of course!

 

Gated content is content that your prospect can only access after they’ve performed some action. It could be signing up for an account, subscribing for email updates, or any one of a million possible things. In this case we’re assuming you’re offering them something in return for their email address and permission to contact them.

 

So what do you offer them? It’s got to be something your ideal prospect would want, and which will help educate them about the value of your offer. My personal favorite kind of gated content is an eBook lead magnet. It could be a how-to guide or a valuable bit of data.

 

If you use a how-to guide, stick to a subject your prospect will be interested in. Let them know how to do something they’d like to be able to do on their own (even if you and I both know they should go ahead and hire you if they want the best results).

 

And After That?

Once you’ve got your lead magnet ready and got it building your list, you need to start sending out emails. This is another thing where you’re going to have to work out your own plans. At the very least, you should reach out to your email lists once every month. (If you contact them less than that, some of your subscribers might start to forget who you are, and unsubscribe just as soon as they see your emails.)

 

Try not to be too salesy with your emails. Unless you want to be. It’s important to find an approach that works for you and go with it. I’ve seen some people go as shamelessly salesy as it’s possible to be, and I’ve seen some people run their email marketing in a much more subtle way. It depends on your style.

 

The prospects you’re meant to find are the kind of people who will appreciate your style. So feel free to experiment until you find the voice that works. When it does, you’ll know.

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