With many writers offering similar services in our gig economy, how do you differentiate yourself to increase the chance that potential clients will choose you? In this article, I will provide tips to boost your chances of gaining new clients in today’s competitive environment. Let’s get started.
A Crowded Field
In the last couple of decades, we have witnessed a disruption to traditional content publishing. With consumers increasingly relying on internet-connected mobile devices for up-to-the-second news coverage, local newspapers have struggled to keep up. That has affected their bottom line, making it harder for them to retain and attract talent — leaving journalists underpaid and underemployed.
Our school system is also increasingly outdated. Teachers’ pay has not risen fast enough to keep up with increasing living costs and inflation. As a result, many teachers are struggling financially.
These two cases alone have forced many people to build another revenue stream through freelance writing on the side.
But journalists and teachers are not alone. Other professionals have faced similar challenges in recent years, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have joined the gig economy to make extra income.
If you are one of these professionals, here are some key tips to help you establish a stronger position and significantly increase the chance that potential clients will choose you.
Table of Contents:
1. Know your core strengths.
First, determine your core strengths in content creation and express them well in an introductory cover letter of about 400-600 words.
The best way to identify your core strengths is to ask yourself which types of content you are most interested in writing about. Think about the writing styles you enjoy most: storytelling, researching and reporting, creative writing, and so on.
Most clients will look for writers whose core strengths align with the type of content they need help producing. Your intro letter will play a key role in communicating that message for you.
Since clients usually pay you based on word count, make sure your intro letter shows your writing is clear and concise.
2. Demonstrate your expertise.
In order to demonstrate your core expertise, you should have at least 10 articles written and published online. Share a list of clear URLs to these articles so your potential clients can see your work.
If these articles were published on your clients’ websites, get their permission to say that you have helped create the content. It will show that you already have experience and others have chosen to work with you.
However, if you’ve always been a ghost writer and most of your work is published without your name, then you should find a small number of clients who are willing to give you a byline. This will help you prove that you produced the work. Do this even if you must reduce your project fee because it will boost your credibility. Credited work on even half a dozen sites will go a long way.
If you are just starting out, the same approach can work, but you might have to provide a bigger incentive (with proof of work quality) in order to gain that kind of relationship.
Experienced clients who run websites with more niche content often choose writers who are very knowledgeable on one or two topics within their niche rather than jack-of-all-trades writers (or general writers). They often prefer writers who have already produced content for other niche sites similar to theirs.
In short, make sure your first 10 articles reflect your core skills and proven work.
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3. Build a portfolio.
The next step is to build a credible online profile for yourself. Today, people will not take you seriously if you don’t have at least one professional online profile on a site like LinkedIn or HOMEiA. These profiles are your digital resumes, and they evolve over time as you build your professional credibility and body of work. Here is an example of a writer who leverages HOMEiA’s dedicated profile page to make herself stand out as a professional: https://homeia.com/gloria-russell
You don’t have to establish profiles on many platforms. Two or three is fine, but you need to polish them and keep them up to date as best as you can. They are the representation of who you are as a professional in cyberspace. Make sure your introduction and work samples are all consistent, painting a full picture of your expertise in a narrow niche of content creation.
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4. Establish relationships with reputable websites.
Your next priority is to establish a good relationship with three to five reputable websites where you’re credited as the main author or a co-author.
Any writer can produce content for publishing, but those who can produce content that gets published on reputable websites — and who get to claim credit for it — are very few.
If you are able to get your work published on these sites, you have entered a new league where people will take you and your work more seriously. That means clients are more likely to agree to your premium rate.
Thus, make sure to include URLs for this content in your introductory letter and your portfolio. That will help you make it through your potential clients’ preliminary selection processes.
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5. Be selective.
Last, but the most important, be selective of your client type. Choose those whose core content aligns with your skill set. This will amplify your portfolio tremendously. With even a half dozen clients’ sites giving you credit for the work you’ve helped them create, you will stand out in a crowd of writers.
Since we only have 24 hours a day, you can only take on a limited number of projects. Why not focus on fewer, better clients who offer the type of project you love to work on and who pay you consistently?
In this business, consistent orders from a small number of high-quality clients for the type of content you enjoy creating will be worth much more than periodic orders from random clients all over the place.
You should stay away from the common mistake of trying to service everyone as a general writer. While you might get a wider variety of projects, catering to all types of clients will give you more headaches than working with a small number of high-quality clients whose projects fit you like a glove.
Having run a digital marketing firm (ProWeb365.com) since 2009 and a media platform (HOMEiA.com) since 2017, I have written many articles myself and have hired many freelance writers over the years. The five key factors above are what experienced content marketing people like me always look for when hiring great writers.
These tips will help you establish a strong professional presence to set you apart from other writers in this explosively growing gig economy.
If you find this article helpful, please share it with others on your LinkedIn page. Thanks in advance!
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