Marketing your business is something all freelancers struggle with. As soon as you get a bit of work, BAM, you drop your marketing programs to do the work. Sure, doing the actual work is the way you keep your business running, however if you don’t keep the flow of customers coming in, you won’t have anyone to work for.
One way to keep your business fully stocked with customers is to become a Freelance Magnet. When you’re a Magnet, you’re attracting customers through the useful content you write, and the authority you possess. All successful freelancers have the ability to negotiate and close business, however not all of them are able to attract new customers.
This was the situation I was in last year, as I wanted to start an inbound marketing program where customers reached out to me, instead of the other way around. Getting published in these publications would establish me as a marketer, show my knowledge, and get my name alongside other respected marketers. (Plus, it would give me some new clips to add to my portfolio.)
So how does a freelance B2B writer become a Magnet? One of the best ways is to write for online publications.
Why does this work so well?
The reason it works is because you’re establishing your authority on the subject. Plain and simple. Authority translates into more business and increased earnings over time.
Appearing in respected publications your target market reads establishes the “know, like, and trust” paradigm that Copyblogger likes to talk about.
- Customers get to know you because they see your content everywhere — or at least in the places they frequent, like magazines, trade publications, conventions, websites, and more.
- Customers get to like you because you’re speaking their language, both literally and figuratively. You’re using the same words and phrases they use in their industry and you’re also talking about situations they face every day. You understand them.
- Customers trust you because they associate your name and brand with the publications and brands they already trust. Developing relationships with those trusted publications and brands makes you trustworthy by extension. As you work with the publications for longer periods of time, your target customers see you’re good at building relationships, and again by extension, are willing to get into a relationship with you themselves.
Let’s take a look at how you can set yourself up to be a Freelance Magnet.
Become a Star Freelance Magnet
Here are five steps you can use to become a Freelance Magnet.
1. Target the right publications for your business
Whether you’re going after a particular niche or market, create a list of the publications you’d like to write for. In my case, I looked at online marketing publications, as I wanted to develop my authority as a marketer.
- Create a list of online publications you could write for. Use your favorite search engine for this, or look through the content you enjoy reading. As I use Twitter for a large part of my marketing, I looked through the content I curate on there, and listed the sites I retweeted often.
- Start reading the publications (if you don’t already read them). This is an important step, as you’ll discover if it’s an appropriate place for you to write. Plus, it also helps you learn what type of content they publish, and what topics they cover. I ended up crossing off a few from my list at this step.
- Investigate whether they accept external submissions. Not every publication you research will accept external submissions, so remove the ones that don’t from your list.
Depending on your target market or niche, finding the right publication can be challenging. That said, it’s easy to look at the high-profile publications and write for them, however don’t overlook the smaller publications as well. Big or small, as long as the publication has a big enough circulation, then it’s a good one to write for. Test out the publications and see which works best for you.
- Pro tip: Smaller publications in very niche markets may provide far better placement than an article in a bigger general publication. If you work in a very narrow niche, then this may be the way to go.
2. Choose publications that provide a byline AND bio page
Having a separate author profile or page on your preferred online publication lets you showcase your brand. It also lets you build a community because readers will head over to your website and follow the content you produce there too.
- Pro tip: Add in Google Authorship to your byline, and you’re building even more authority.
- Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite, writes tons of articles online, and makes sure to lead readers back to HootSuite. Here’s one on FastCompany and one on Forbes.
- Leo Widrich, Co-founder of Buffer, writes a lot on Buffer’s own blog, as well as other publications like Kikolani.com, ProBlogger, and HubSpot.
- Our very own Ed Gandia has written for B2B Writing Success, Make a Living Writing, White Paper Source, and many more.
3. Include easy ways for readers to connect with you
Readers will want to connect with the authors of relevant articles they read and share these articles with their community, so make it easy for them! Online sharing boosts your brand’s SEO because it sends out social proof signals. Write for publications that have social sharing buttons built in on the site, and don’t forget to share the content yourself as well.
- Pro tip: Include ways to find you online in your byline by including hyperlinks to your freelance website, blog, and social media accounts.
On my Social Media Examiner article, they’ve got social sharing buttons at the top of the article, as well as well as a byline at the bottom where I included links to my freelance website and Google+ account.
4. Follow the stated guidelines
This may seem like the “easiest” part of becoming a Freelance Magnet, however you’d be surprised at how many freelancers mess this up. Some sites prefer you to send an email with your query, while others have a form on their site for you to fill out. Whatever it is, make sure you follow their guidelines to the letter. You risk being rejected right from the start if you don’t.
For example, Social Media Examiner has a form on their site, and they pre-qualify all their requests by asking for online social media specific clips.
5. Be easy to work with
From following the submission guidelines and being patient with the publication editor to writing well, being easy to work with means you’ll have success with the publication long-term.
For my first article with Social Media Examiner, I pitched about 8-10 topics to the editor before she accepted one. Then it took almost three months from when I submitted the final article to when it was published on the site. It went through two rounds of editing (copy editing and proofreading), and then had to wait for the right time on the Editorial Calendar. In the interim, one of the technology tools I wrote about changed a feature. So on publication, I had to field comments from readers on that. I sent a quick note to the editor to ask if she could include an author’s update in it, which she put in right away for me. “Thanks for your quick thinking on this. I’ve added the author’s note you suggested,” she replied to my email about the issue.
Writing for targeted publications is a great way to develop your freelance business. It relieves the pressure on you from having to chase after clients, since they’ll be coming after you. Be a Freelance Magnet and let clients come to you.
Are you already a Freelance Magnet for your business? Where are you placing your writing? I’m curious.