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Freelance Writers: 11 Ways to Build an Audience for Your Writing
Written by Freelance Writer and Author, William Ballard
(Author of: The True Writer’s Life: Discovering the Author and Finisher of Our Faith)
Building an audience of readers is of the utmost importance for all freelance writers and authors who wish to make a living and a name for themselves at their craft. You must have readers to sell work to (book and/or articles) and finding those readers who connect with your work is not always as easy as you think it will be. The following are some tips for earning readers that I have learned in my ten plus years of writing.
1) Don’t be afraid to talk about your freelance writing and author business
Learn to become comfortable telling anyone who is willing to listen that you’re a writer and what you’re working on. Sometimes readership is best gained at the grassroots level, one person at a time. Remember, you never know whom you’re crossing paths with and who they might share your information to.
2) Always be genuine
If you remain true and sincere, you will be creating your on individual brand with each word you write. Each of us are unique, gifted with our own voice and perspective. Be yourself when conducting business face-to-face as well as in your writing. People will sense it, respect you for it and you will more likely find the audience that’s already searching for you.
3) Make your blog the life source of your business
In the last few years Facebook and Twitter have stolen a lot of the spotlight, but never underestimate the value of a blog. Contributing regularly to a blog serves the dual purpose of keeping your writing skills razor sharp while attracting precious readers. I have four times as many followers on my Weebly blog than I do my Facebook Writer and Author page.
4) Have business cards on you at all times, especially when traveling, or when you are out and about doing personal run arounds
Think simple and classic. In this digital age it might seem old fashioned but business cards will always be an effective marketing tool. When you start to chat it up with that stranger sitting next to you on the plane a business card will allow you to leave them with something to remember you by.
5) Study your market and know the ends and outs of that market like the back of your hand
Brainstorm about ways to cross-sell your articles and books. Which organizations or businesses would have a customer base that would seem like a natural fit for your writing? The larger the organization, the better. For example, if marketing or social media is a common theme in your writing seek out marketing agencies or social media groups to see if they will give you access to their members. This works on just about any niche you can think of as well. A properly placed link on the right Facebook page can translate into many new readers and potential customers. Many times all you need to do is ask.
Bonus Tip: Check out my featured article, 2 Keys to Unlocking the Door to Your Perfect Client, on Be a Freelance Writer to get a better understanding of how this process works.
6) Instead of thinking smarter and working harder, think harder and work smarter
Marketing is hard work and it also takes you away from writing so think of ways to make the best use of your time. Link up your Facebook, Twitter, Blog and LinkedIn accounts so when you post something to one it will automatically post to the others. This creates consistent content and will free up more of the time you would typically be spending on marketing so you can use it to write. Don’t forget to create a LinkedIn account to promote your writing. LinkedIn is growing fast and should not be overlooked!
7) A successful writer is a generous writer
Run regular promotions on your social media pages. Get outrageous and be creative! I have an idea to launch a “Reader Appreciation Friday” most every week on my Facebook author page and offer a free eBook to the first person that sends me their email address via Facebook inbox message (I will sharing more about this idea real soon!).
Ebooks cost you nothing and promotions like this are fun. They will help you create a buzz about your projects. I will occasionally even giveaway physical copies of my book. If and when I travel, I make it a priority to bring a couple autographed copies of my book and will give them away randomly to strangers I cross paths with. I’m making others happy and view it as an investment in the future of my writing career.
Bonus Tip: If you want to learn more about how to develop the successful quality of generosity have a look at one of my most recent eBooks, The 21 Qualities of Successful Writer: Develop Them and Become The Writer Everyone Wants to Read.
8) Stop investing in promotions that don't generate leads or results, and instead, shift time and energy towards what does bring the greatest return on your investment
Especially when promoting on social media, make note of what generates engagement from your readers. Keep experimenting until you find things that transmits into sales, likes and comments.
I’ve found that boosting posts on Facebook (paying for them to place your posts in the news feeds of strangers) might increase your total outreach but doesn’t always translate into as many “likes” or purchases as you might think.
9) Why freelance writers should write a book, and why you should get excited about book signings
I know that in the industry of freelance writing not many writers can call themselves book authors as well, but in my opinion, every freelance writer should write a book. As a freelance writer, writing a book sets you at a higher level than other freelance writers. That book that you write can become one of your top selling points in your freelance writing business. If a potential client sees that you have written a book you will have a better chance at landing the gig than your competition.
A books power is twofold, 1) it can generate a lucrative side income apart from your freelance writing business, and 2) it can land you more lucrative freelance writing gigs from some of the top publications.
If you already are a published author, or when your book is available seek out independent local bookstores and ask if they will carry your book. Most will do this on a consignment basis even for self-published authors. After a couple of months and a few sales, ask to get on their schedule to do a book signing event. Customers at small local bookstores are usually fiercely loyal and avid readers and it’s great to have these types of word of mouth marketers on your side.
10) Always have your eyes open and be actively learning about what other successful authors are doing in terms of marketing their work
Don’t study those who are at your level (and definitely don't try to copy those that are not as successful as you), study the techniques and strategies of those writers and authors who are a few levels higher than you on the ladder. Discover what works for them in regards to attracting readers and try to replicate it for your own writing business.
I share more book marketing tips at my, "Becoming an Author Blog".
11) Try contacting your local public or college radio stations
Explain that you’re a local freelance writer and author and you’d be interested in doing a radio interview about your most recent project. People who listen to pubic radio are typically interested in books. However small the audience, with each media interview you take part in you will gain skills and become more comfortable and relaxed. This will be great practice for when you’re eventually being interviewed for some of the top media outlets.
Now, Let's Turn it Over to You
When it comes to building your writing audience, what tips can you give?
Have you tried any of the tips mentioned above? If so, which ones and what were the results?
Share you thoughts and concerns in the comments below:
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William Ballard is a writer, author and poet based in Ontario Canada. William invites you to “like” his Facebook author page to receive updates and promotions on his projects. Also visit Amazon.com (links below) to learn more about his most recent book projects. Visit his Facebook Page, or buy his books on Amazon.com.
Don't forget to check out his Portfolio page and see where he will be featured next!