Are you building an audience to support your web copywriting?
It’s something to consider… unless you want to always cold call prospects and pitch them on how you can help them.
In my pre-copywriting career, I once had a J-O-B where I cold called companies to pitch them on enrolling their employees in computer training. It was valuable training that increased an employee’s efficiency and productivity. Participating would demonstrate how much the company valued their employees, by investing in their development.
I was good at it, but I hated it. It was exhausting. Soul-draining. I was one of the top producers, and even for me, the wins were few and far between.
When I left that job, I vowed to never again be in a position where I had to “dial for dollars.” Been there. Done that. Never want to ever again.
And I haven’t.
Instead of cold calling to find web-copywriting clients, I’ve worked on building an audience. I’ve done things with the goal of getting prospects to know, like, and trust me, so I’m the first one they’ll think of when they need my help.
You can, too.
My strategies fit into three “buckets.” My audience-building buckets are Personal Branding, Publishing, and Affinity Marketing. I’ll explain…
According to PersonalBrand.com, personal branding is “The conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, increase their circle of influence, and have a larger impact.”
To simplify, it’s how you present yourself to the world. It’s what you say about yourself. It’s how you express what you want to be known for.
I’ve found three essential means to advance my personal brand:
Website. Your website is the ultimate place to showcase who you are and what you want to be known for. Be thoughtful and intentional with your website content, so your website becomes the hub of your personal branding efforts.
Social Media. What you post and share on social media says a lot about who you are. So, be sure everything attached to you is an accurate representation of who you really are and how you want to be seen.
Networking. Networking gives your audience perhaps the strongest impression of who you are, because you’re engaging with people live and in real time. How you present yourself in person (including online virtual networking) is critical to your personal branding efforts.
There are at least seven ways to build your audience using publishing. Of course, you may find others that fit your own personal brand. Here are mine:
Blog. A blog on your website is the perfect place to publish your thoughts and ideas on topics of interest to your audience. Brainstorm topics that will help your audience, and then create a strategic editorial calendar to keep you organized. Develop a publishing schedule that works for you (once a week, once or twice a month, etc.), and then stick to it.
Case Studies. Consider publishing case studies to give concrete and specific examples of how you’ve helped other people solve problems. This helps your prospects see how you could help them, too.
Social Media. Publish excerpts or summaries of your blog posts and/or case studies on social media. If you don’t yet have a website, you can even use LinkedIn as your publishing platform. Be sure to publish on the social media platform where your audience is. For most professionals, this is LinkedIn. But, wherever your audience is, that’s where you should be, too.
Articles with Your Byline. If you can get articles published with your byline (the “By [Your Name]” attribution usually found at the top of an article) in publications your target market reads, that gives you third-party credibility as a subject-matter expert. It also gives you greater visibility to a larger audience.
Books. Publishing a book is a powerful way to build your audience, and it’s easier than ever. An e-book doesn’t have to be long — shoot for about 20,000 words — but, it does have to be useful, if you want your audience to be excited about reading it.
Webinars. Think of webinars as online workshops where you show people you can help them by actually helping them do something. A common strategy (and one that I’ve found works well) is to show your audience what to do but not necessarily how to do it… positioning yourself as the how-to solution. For example, a webinar showing a brief website audit can point out what could be changed to make the website get better results. The call to action could be a private consultation with you to go over how to improve their specific website.
Videos. Consider publishing video content as a way to be accessible to a larger audience. YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google, so it’s likely your audience is searching for answers there, too. Consider recording yourself giving a video presentation of the content you’ve published on your blog, and then publish the video on YouTube.
BusinessDictionary.com defines affinity marketing as “a method of selling goods and services by creating partnerships with similar or compatible companies and brands. This increases brand loyalty for both companies and products and heightens market awareness of both.”
For affinity marketing to work, you and your partners should serve the same audience, but help them with different things.
For example, if the audience you serve is start-up companies, good affinity marketing partners could be a business lawyer and an accountant. The three of you each help the start-up solve different problems without competing with each other.
In fact, if you pool your resources with affinity partners, you usually end up reaching a much broader audience, because you’re “borrowing” your partners’ audience and sphere of influence, just as they’re borrowing yours.
Other good affinity marketing partners for us web copywriters can be web designers, photographers, graphic designers, and virtual assistants.
I’ve found webinars and videos to be the easiest ways to collaborate with affinity marketing partners. If you go the book route, expect to be the one doing most of the writing work (a pretty natural division of labor, all things considered). You may consider this to be a good trade-off, especially if your partners already have an established audience you’ll be able to reach.
Building YOUR Audience
These 11 ways for web copywriters to build an audience have worked for me, but I didn’t start out doing all 11 at once. That’s a little overwhelming. I get it.
I think the answer to “How do you eat an elephant?” — one bite at a time — is also the answer to “How do you build an audience?”
Start with one thing. I suggest starting with the one thing that’s easiest for you to do right now. Maybe that’s being more intentional with what you post on social media, so it’s supporting your personal branding efforts.
Once you get comfortable with doing one thing, add others. For example, if you’re already comfortable with strategic social media posting, maybe your next one thing could be to start publishing articles on LinkedIn.
Or, if you’re already publishing a blog on your website, maybe your next one thing could be turning those blog posts into videos.
Take these 11 strategies and use them to create your own plan to build an audience. Your efforts will be rewarded in the form of a wide pool of new prospects for your services as a web copywriter.
I’d love to know what you’ll focus on first. Drop me a comment and let me know!