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Originally published on September 14, 2013 @ 7:54 amEstimated Reading TIme: 6 minutes
Now that you've started taking on clients as a freelance writer, you're probably wondering how you can grow your freelance writing business fast.
I've never met a freelance writer who said “I don't need to grow my business.”
Especially new freelance writers who are still trying to find their edge within this industry.
Right out of the gate, you want to know how to grow your freelance writing business, and how to grow it fast.
After all, you've got bills to pay, right? The grocery store isn't going to just start giving your groceries because you haven't found any clients yet.
Tips on How to Grow your Freelance Writing Business Fast
Choose a Niche you Love
If I had to start my freelance writing business all over again, I would be sure to choose a niche much, much earlier.
I used to think that choosing a niche would tie my hands too much—that it would stifle the creative energy I needed to run a writing business. And, let's face it, when you're new to freelance writing, the idea of turning down a prospective client simply because their project doesn't fall within your niche is scary.
We need the money!
And not only that, but we need the testimonials, the reviews, and the portfolio so we can take on more clients. After all “we can always choose a niche later.”
And that's what we tell ourselves when we're still small:
- We can choose a niche later.
- We can raise our rates later.
- We can get picky about our clients later.
But the funny thing is not choosing a niche can actually slow down your growth.
First of all, you run the risk of taking on too many projects without knowing a lot about the subject matter. Not enough to call yourself an expert, anyway. And definitely not enough to be able to write anything substantial without research.
And research takes time — time you may have forgotten to consider when choosing your rates.
Additionally, the highest paying clients out there, the ones who will pay $200-$500 per blog post, they want experts writing their stuff. They don't pay good money to good writers who don't know and understand the subject matter.
Now, I know, it can take a while to choose a niche. I'm not expecting you to have one picked out on day one. Maybe even not by the end of year one. But I didn't start even thinking about choosing a niche until I was 10 years in. For 10 years, I limped through very slow, general growth taking on random clients.
Let me tell you: random clients = random payments.
I was doing okay, but didn't really start to break out of the realm of “okay” until I sat down and defined what I wanted to write and who I wanted to write for. Now, looking back, I wish I had done that by year two or three—giving myself time enough to try out several branches and seeing what I liked but early enough to have made an impact much, much sooner.
Take a little bit of time to think about it. And don't worry, it's not carved in stone. You can always expand on your niche later. But choosing one niche as early as you can will help position you as the expert other experts want to hire, which will in turn help you grow your freelance writing business quickly.
Systemize Parts of your Process
What does your workflow look like?
When I first started freelance writing, with my very first client I learned that this business was a lot more than merely writing. In fact, the writing is one of the smallest parts of the job.
There's client onboarding, pitching, marketing, invoicing… each part of the process is made up of dozens of tiny little tasks that can't be missed but do take up time.
Creating a system helps make sure these administrative tasks don't suck up all your time.
Start by writing out each task that you do for your projects. Then, look for patterns: tasks that get repeated for every client or several times for the same client.
Which of these tasks can you automate? And what tool or tools do you need to automate them?
Don't get sucked into the idea that just because you are working for yourself that it means you have to do it all yourself. Automating tasks that don't need your personal touch, such as some email sequences and invoicing, can really help free up your time and lower the risk of something or someone falling through the cracks or being skipped over.
And if you want to grow your writing business quickly, you can't be getting weighed down in the tiny tasks.
Brand your Freelance Writing Business
If you want to be the expert other experts want to hire, then you need to brand yourself in a way that helps you stand out from other freelance writers.
Although most people think of branding as a logo and a collection of fonts and colors, it is a lot more than that. Branding covers the entire experience your audience is given when they interact with you or your business.
Even the interactions they have before they know you.
It's the feeling they're left with after they see one of your posts on social media, the trust they feel after reading your pitch, and how much they like you after talking to you or reading your work.
Your brand is an all-encompassing impression left on your audience.
So start thinking about the type of experience you want potential clients to have when they visit your social profile or see one of your ads or read one of your pitches. Once you have your brand defined, then work on capturing it visually with your graphics and logo.
Build Relationships with People within your Chosen Niche
One of the advantages of choosing a niche is that you'll know exactly where your ideal clients — the people who need writing done for their subject matter — are hanging out.
Since my niche is social media marketing, I hang out with social marketing coaches and experts all the time. I'm engaging with their information, watching their videos, I'm getting on their mailing lists and I'm writing back to them.
I'm building that relationship with them — being their friend. Not in a shady way, no ulterior motives to this at all. If I send a friend request out to a social marketing expert, it's because I want to be their friend even though they may never hire me to write for them. For that matter, I may not even pitch my services to them.
But the thing is with the experts within your niche, they all know people within their industry. Social media marketing experts know all the other social media marketing experts – and they all hang out together like one big, happy family. So, by being friends with one or two, and having that relationship with them, when one of the members of their family needs services, who are they going to refer? Who are they going to introduce?
Hopefully me. But if not, then probably another writer with whom they have a good relationship.
And the same is true for just about every niche out there: if you want to write for the food and cooking industry, start hanging out with chefs and people who work at Food Network and Food Bloggers. If you want to write for the mental health industry, start making friends with psychiatrists, therapists, and counselors.
Learn to Pitch Like a Pro
If you sit back and wait for people and businesses to come to you, you're never going to grow as quickly as you would like. You'll always be dependent on someone else's growth first.
Because they aren't going to come to you to write for them if they aren't growing fast enough to see the need to hire a writer.
Which means, you'll need to go to them and show them the value of hiring a writer.
And that is going to mean pitching your services. I don't mean just posting something onto social media that you're accepting clients or hanging out in some job site, but by heading to your email box and writing a pitch. And not a bland email that reads “Hi I can write a good blog for you,” but a pitch that emphasizes why they need a blog and why you're the best person to write that blog for them.
And the Number One Way to Grow your Freelance Writing Business Fast?
Invest in Yourself
You're a great writer. I know this because if you weren't then you wouldn't be sitting here trying to learn how to grow your writing business. You're a strong enough writer that you decided to turn it into a business.
However, as you've probably learned by now, being a great writer isn't enough to run a business.
You'll also need to make some strategic investments to improve your writing, hone your skills, and grow your business.
There are two ways to invest in yourself and your business: time or money.
If you don't have the money to invest, then you have to invest the time. The truth is, everything you need to learn that will help you grow and scale your freelance writing business is available online, for free, somewhere.
Someone out there has covered the all the answers in various blog posts, podcast episodes, free eBooks, free courses, and videos. If you're choosing to invest your time, then all you have to do is find these resources, sift through them to see which parts are still relevant or will work for you, and implement them into your strategy.
On the other hand, if you have some money to spend, you can fast-track your investment by purchasing a course, book, or attending a conference. The information presented this way is generally more organized and pre-vetted, so you can usually trust it and learn from it faster than trying to rely on Google.
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