By Shawndra Russell –
The definition of writer can be a narrow view (“I write only women’s fiction”) to a broad view (“I use words any way people need me to”). I quickly learned to embrace the latter when I took the freelance plunge two and a half years ago, because, frankly, only pitching editors wasn’t adding up to my monthly income goals. This approach has led to a wide variety of contracts: website copy, blogs, social media posts, newsletters, emails, press releases, descriptions for online directories and more. With this approach, I was able to triple my income from 2012 in 2013. Here are five ways you, too, can land writing gigs for businesses that need content now more than ever in this fast-paced, online-heavy life.
1. Create a list of every business you’ve ever written about.
Have you interviewed business owners for any of your articles? Then these folks are great people to pitch your other writing services to. Start your email by reminding them who you are and sharing a link to your article about them if possible. Then, inform them that you offer other writing services and ask them to keep you in mind should they ever need a writer. Since you’ve technically already done them a favor by writing an article about them, they’ll be more open to your inquiry and already have a good feeling about you.
2. Make a list of businesses you’d like to write for, and pitch them.
Pitching a business owner is not that different from pitching an editor. You introduce yourself and share a couple of ideas, then follow up in a week or two. Start with flattery just like you would an editor, but instead of writing, “I loved this recent article,” say, “I love your wine” or whatever product/service they provide. Flattery works.
3. Seek businesses that do not have a blog or newsletter.
Content is needed now more than ever, and if a business isn’t blogging or writing a newsletter to their fans, they are missing out on some major benefits. Offer to write one blog or newsletter for free to get your foot in the door, and share some stats about the power of blogging like this article, “Top Blogging Statistics: 45 Reasons to Blog.”
4. (Gently) point out a flaw in their online presence.
Are they posting to Facebook three times a day? Do they still not have a Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram account? Do they have a dismal online listing score on getlisted.org? Be friendly and flattering at first, but then point out the hole in their online marketing that you’ve found and offer to fill it. I’ve landed several clients this way.
5. Don’t be scared to try something new.
Business owners need all kinds of support, so don’t shy away from opportunities that might involve tasks that aren’t necessarily writing related. I once ran a usability testing session for a new tech startup and had absolutely no idea what that even was up until two weeks before I led the group through the developing website. I’ve also taken more photos than I care to remember for social media even though I don’t consider myself a stellar photographer. But you learn as you go and take on each new challenge with professionalism, which will help you establish a great reputation and eventually get businesses seeking you out instead of you constantly hustling for more work.
Good luck and tweet me with any questions at @ShawndraRussell.
Shawndra writes and collects stories and helps businesses share their best stories through social media. Her latest work is How to Become a Freelance Writer in 30 Days. Read about her services and projects at http://www.shawndrarussell.com.