Article by Wendy McCance
Are you looking to break into writing but are unsure of how to begin? Have you been turned off by content mills? Is your dream to write for a company? If so, I would like to share with you the way I have gotten numerous writing assignments.
First, a little background. When I first decided I wanted to be a writer for a living, I was thinking I would write for magazines, newspapers and eventually author several books. That was the dream I had laid out for myself.
Life doesn’t always hand you what you wish for right away. In the meantime, I needed to make money. My first writing assignment actually happened without me prospecting, or I should say, I didn’t occur to me at that time that I had actually been advertising my work all along.
I received a message from a LinkedIn group member that had seen several of my posts and was interested in having me write for them. It was a financial company. My first assignment ever was 500 words and I was paid $65.00. Not a bad assignment or pay rate, especially considering I never used a content mill (still don’t).
My second opportunity transpired exactly the same way. It was a Linkedin user who saw my work in a group and reached out to have me write a press release for their client. This was a marketing company. I made $75.00 for that assignment.
What I noticed as time went on is that the companies I seemed to get the most work from were companies with clients looking to add a social media presence to their business. Most of my clients were from marketing or pr firms.
I never planned for this to happen. It was far from what I had envisioned, yet, it really did suit me. These were clients that were looking for a writing style that felt a bit more personal. They liked that my writing could grab the reader and make them feel as though I was talking directly to them. The fact that my background is in sales was a huge plus. I understood how to write in a way that could create action. The reader would want to know more.
I still want to write magazine and newspaper articles. Some day I would like to see a book I’ve written on a shelf in a bookstore. I am still pursuing those avenues. In the mean time, I have a steady income from what I believed would be a very unlikely source. I am glad that when this all began, I jumped right in and took the challenge. Believe me, that first assignment writing for that financial company scared me. I hadn’t written for a paycheck. The press release was just as challenging. I just didn’t let fear hold me back. The best part is that the internet is full of valuable information. I was able to read about how to put together a press release (for example) and just did it. Thankfully the client was very pleased with my work.
Below are ways I have gotten many assignments. I hope the list inspires you. If you want to be a writer, you CAN do it. You just need to know how to begin.
1. Social media is everything.
Every time you submit a post to a group, or a site, you are advertising what you can do. I use the following social media sites to get my name out there: LinkedIn, Pintrest, Twitter, Twyla, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Klout, Sverve, Facebook, Mommy Blogs, Google+ etc… Honestly there are numerous other sites, but the ones mentioned are the sites I have had the best luck with.
2. You need to be visible on the front page when you Google yourself.
If someone is interested in you, they will most likely Google your name. The more you are mentioned, the more confidence a potential client will have in your ability to deliver. I know it is time consuming, but at least have a LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ account. By all means, make sure your profiles are completely filled out, there is a way to get in touch with you and interact with others regularly. It honestly makes that much of a difference.
3. Prospect for business.
I know that reaching out and asking for the job can be uncomfortable. It is necessary if you want to earn a living. It’s honestly a big part of each day for me. It’s made a world of difference in the amount of work I have gotten. Some weeks will be quiet and others will be extremely busy. It just works that way, so remain patient and keep plugging away.
A couple of good ways to prospect for business:
- When someone reaches out to connect on a social site, reply with a thank you. Let them know you are happy to connect and get to know them. By all means mention that you are a freelance writer and if they could use a writer, to please keep you in mind.
- Take all of those names you have gathered. Pay close attention to what these people do for a living and if they might be the decision maker. Write a quick note from the social media site telling them what you think you could do for them. Maybe you can write a press release or a blog post for a business owner. If you have a strong background in a particular area, say sales or technology, use it to your advantage. Explain why your background is an added plus when writing for that business owner.
- I’ve mentioned it before, but make sure you have a signature on your emails. You send out several emails, why not include a plug. Below your name, make sure you have your title (Freelance Writer) a phone number, email and a social media link (such as your blog, LinkedIn profile or Facebook Page). People get curious and they will on occassion check out your link. It might lead to a job or at least a referral to someone they know.
Ultimately, you should find ways to get creative. Make calls if that is more comfortable for you. Mention what you do to friends and family. The object is to get your name and what you do for a living as far out into the world as possible.
One more thing I’d like to add is to tell people about the success you are having. As those jobs come in, make a point of telling friends and family what has been happening since you began writing. If people are talking about their jobs or just what’s new, make sure you mention your achievements. The reason is, people will take you more seriously when they know you are getting jobs. Not only that, but as their confidence grows for what you are doing and accomplishing, they are more likely to jump on board and mention you to others as well.
If you have any questions or would like to add an experience you have had, I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.
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To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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