40+ Easy Marketing Activities for Freelancers

Writers don’t just write. They also must market unless they’re John Grisham or Mary Higgins Clark. However, Grisham had to market early in his career. So how do writers market themselves? Try any of these activities that would benefit writers, book authors, freelancers, and small businesses.

  1. Grow your portfolio. If you’re just getting started, many popular blogs and non-profit organizations might be willing to publish your article. Contact them first.
  2. Contribute articles to blogs and Web sites. I helped a client get published in CIO by proposing an article that would benefit its audience without any sales speak.
  3. Participate in blogs covering your topic. Most blogs let you enter your URL.
  4. Start a blog. It must provide valuable information not sales spiel.
  5. Have a Web site. Include an About page, testimonials, description of your services, and most important — make it obvious what you do.
  6. Contribute to an email newsletter. Start one or write a column for another’s newsletter.
  7. Collect email addresses. Of course, make sure you have permission. This comes in handy should you not have a newsletter yet. When you launch a newsletter or a column in one, let your mailing list know — but do NOT subscribe them. Let them subscribe themselves — point the way.
  8. Participate in Twitter (don’t just join, you must put into it to get something out of it).
  9. Subscribe to Help a Reporter (HARO). Post to it when you work on a story.
  10. Set up social network pages (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).
  11. Connect with people you *know* on social networks rather than accepting every invitation. It’s not about the number of connections, but the quality.
  12. Read high-quality marketing blogs. Good place to start: Seth Godin.
  13. Give a fiction story a non-fiction spin. This helps your marketing efforts.
  14. Ask your publisher about the marketing they provide, so you don’t overlap activities.
  15. Read books on marketing and publicity. Good ones include Plug Your Book!, Free Publicity, and Putting It on Paper.
  16. Contact bloggers to request a review of your book. It’s better to contact them before sending the book. I always review books when I request a copy of a book, but if a book comes to me — it has lowered chances of my reviewing it because (1) I have too many on my list already, and (2) it may have nothing to do with a topic I cover or have interest in.
  17. Create a signature. Use it in your email and in forums. Mine mentions www.meryl.net, that I’m a digital marketer, links to my newsletter and book.
  18. Offer to speak at relevant meetings, programs, schools, and conferences. If you write a book about cats and dogs, speaking at a computer conference won’t do you much good. Remember PTAs, non-profit organizations, and professional organizations look for speakers, too. My kids’ schools invite authors to read or speak to the kids. If you have a children’s book, contact your local elementary school PTAs about visiting the school. Often, the school will sell your books for signing and parents eat them up. A great time to get schools — Book Fairs and Reading Ambassadors Week.
  19. Post old articles into article libraries. EzineArticles is my fave.
  20. Search “marketing writers” for more tips.
  21. Create a bookplate. Offer to sign and sending a bookplate whenever readers send you a self-addressed stamped envelope. Print the bookplate on printed labels so readers can stick ’em right on. Cheaper than mailing the book to you and back. It provides a personal connection between the reader and author.
  22. Hold an event. A friend of mine created a neat book where kids get to be the author. The Stapler Caper had colorful pages with characters explained in the beginning of the book and kids write their own words on the bottom of each page. The paper the book uses makes it easy to erase and re-use. Anyway, she had a back-to-school breakfast at a popular breakfast restaurant. Every person that bought a book got a free breakfast plus she signed books.
  23. Ask clients for testimonials. I always ask for a quote at the end of a project or after working with a client for several months on a non-ending project. Sometimes you might have to help the client by asking specific questions to get a valuable testimonial. “You’re great” says nothing. It could be short for “You’re great at being late,” a way for an unhappy client to not tell the complete truth.
  24. Ask clients for referrals. Your clients are your best marketing tool. They know your services and may know of others who can benefit from your services.
  25. Buy ads. I bought an ad from the sports booster club at my daughter’s high school. It’ll be posted in the three programs that will go out at games. The ad serves two purposes: supports my daughter’s school’s sports (she plays on the volleyball team) and advertise my business. I’ve also posted ads in directories for non-profit organizations of which I’m a member. These don’t cost much compared to standard ads.
  26. Hand out promo goodies. Swags, bribes, whatever you call ’em. Buy mugs, calendars, pens, whathaveyou to hand out to folks with your URL, phone number, or whatever contact information. I don’t do this with client gifts. However, if you’re willing — you could send a gift that doesn’t have your company logo on it AND add a little side goodie that has your company logo on it.
  27. Do an exchange. You could submit an article in exchange for an ad on a Web site. Offer to edit a non-profit’s newsletter in exchange for an ad in the newsletter.
  28. Hold a contest. Contests with cool prizes bring in folks!
  29. Sponsor a prize. Donate a prize for contests. I donated an Amazon gift certificate to Lifehack and they did an unexpected write up about all of their sponsors including me.
  30. Carry business cards at all times. Make sure the back of them remain blank or else you or the recipient can’t write notes as I learned the hard way one year when I had the dumb idea of printing the calendar on the back. I rarely hand out all my business cards within a year, so imagine how useless they were when the year ended. I use business cards in my personal life when I meet people at meetings or tennis. It’s a way to give them my contact information and it just happens to promote my business, too. I carry them in my tennis bag and in my purse, so I always have them with me.
  31. Leave business cards with complementary businesses. Let’s say you sell organic shampoo. You might leave business cards or a little postcard with beauticians and barbers.
  32. Take advantage of upselling and cross-selling opportunities. Offer a free ebook or report for when people sign up for your newsletter. Use the ebook download page to upsell or the email with the link to the report for downloading. Take care to start small. Would you buy $500 worth of stuff from someone you just met? For example, the ebook could be a chapter from a larger book that costs $20. Give them the opportunity to buy the book for $15 if they purchase it within X number of days (gives them time to read the free chapter).
  33. Focus on keeping your current clients happy. Much cheaper than doing low quality work in a hurry so you can find new customers. Take the time to do a great job so they keep coming back. No taking clients for granted.
  34. Always part with clients on a good note. Sometimes things don’t work out. Face it… not everyone will like you no matter how wonderful you are. Your personality will clash with someone. These clients might talk, so extend goodwill by leaving on a good note.
  35. Join an organization or association. It doesn’t have to be a writer’s related one. PTA counts. I try to find out what other parents do so I can refer business their way. After all, happy parents mean a happy PTA.
  36. Advertise on your car. I ordered cheap, but good quality magnets with my business on them. But I felt silly and took them down. Not everyone feels that way as I see MANY cars carrying ads these days.
  37. Volunteer. You’d be surprised how your business can come up when you’re doing good. Heck, wear a t-shirt advertising your business. Get one made through Cafe Press or Vistaprint.
  38. Write thank-you notes. Yes, write with your hand. Write thank-you notes for all occasions. Did someone treat you to a meal? Someone make a referral that has yet to pan out or didn’t work out? Every little bit helps. You can easily keep stamped postcards with you so that you can drop down and give ten… I mean stop and write a thank you note any time.
  39. Write reviews. I’ve gotten paid writing jobs because I wrote honest reviews of the clients’ products before we connected.
  40. Do something! Marketing won’t work unless you take action. Sorry… no other way to do it without lifting a finger. Even if you have an assistant do it, you still need to let the assistant know to do it!
  41. Be consistent. Spend five to ten minutes a day doing any of these. The important thing is to do something on a regular basis. Sure, you might have days when you can barely find your head much less have time to do these activities. So spend more time the next day.

What other marketing activities do you do?

2 thoughts on “40+ Easy Marketing Activities for Freelancers”

  1. Meryl,

    This is a wonderful post, with so many helpful tips for writers! Thanks for all this great advice! So glad you’ve included this in your Blogapalooza best posts of 2008 submission at MZM! Otherwise, I might have never seen it!



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