Over the years, many writers have asked me about how to best market their services, so they can get clients, land projects, and get paid.
Many of these writers have already been trying things to bring in clients. They’ve sent email messages… they’ve engaged on LinkedIn… they’ve attended networking events.
But, they haven’t gotten results they want.
If you can relate to that, you might be committing one of the five most common marketing mistakes writers make when promoting their services.
So, what are these common mistakes?
More importantly, how do you fix them?
Fortunately, once you’ve identified the mistake, the fix is usually straightforward. Let’s have a look…
Common Mistake #1 – Lack of Focus
When it comes to marketing your services, you have a lot of options. Social media… blogging… networking… email marketing… webinars… paid advertising… hosting events… sending out postcard mailings… making videos… podcasting…
It’s easy to feel like you need to be using all these methods, or else you’ll be missing out.
But, trying to take on more than two or three marketing strategies doesn’t usually work so well. Often, it results in a loss of quality and consistency.
And that means your marketing won’t be as effective as you want it to be.
That’s actually good news!
It means you can do less work and get a better result.
If you’re trying to use more than three marketing channels, it’s time to reevaluate.
Think through the kind of marketing you can see yourself doing and enjoying. Do you like talking to people? Do you like writing about your specialty? Do you like teaching?
Start with one method to focus on. Let’s imagine you choose LinkedIn.
Whatever method you choose, start by making a list of the upfront work you need to do to get started. If you decide to focus on LinkedIn, for example, you’ll need to set up a profile, including a good head shot and cover image, a strong headline, and a solid summary.
Once you’ve completed the upfront work, determine how often you’ll use the marketing method. For LinkedIn, you’ll get the best result if you attend to it daily… but, you don’t need to spend more than 15 or 20 minutes a day to see success.
Next, make a list of the actions you need to take each time you execute on your method. Continuing with our LinkedIn example, you might plan to check your connection requests, respond to messages, post something useful to your audience, and send three messages to people in your network.
Block time for your marketing method and stick to your schedule.
By documenting your approach, you’ll focus your efforts. That’ll make it easier to stick with it, to gain momentum and, ultimately, to get results.
Common Mistake #2 – Lack of Follow-Up
I’ve talked to more than a writer or two who are great about sending out connection requests and pitches to potential clients, and who can’t figure out why they aren’t getting more in the way of a response.
Usually, when I probe a little deeper, I discover they’re sending an initial message and nothing more.
Most of the time, it takes five to seven points of contact before a potential client will really start to become familiar with you and begin responding to you.
That means, if you’re spending time researching potential clients and sending each one you find a carefully crafted email introducing yourself and your services, you’ve only done about a fifth of what you need to do to get the best result.
The way to fix this is to put together a series of messages you can send out as follow-ups. These should still be tailored to the individual you’re contacting, but some of the information you include will be the same every time.
When you send an initial message to a prospect, put reminders on your calendar to follow up.
Once you start following up diligently, you’ll most likely see an increase in the number of responses you get… and that will also lead to more projects coming your way.
Common Mistake #3 – An Unclear Offer
I get a lot of messages from writers offering to write something for Wealthy Web Writer. Some of them are very specific. They tell me what they want to write about, why they’re the best person for the job, and how this site’s readers will benefit.
When that’s the case, I almost always respond, and more often than not the writer wins an assignment from me.
But, I get far more messages that simply say, “I’d like to write for you… what do you need?”
That’s not a clear offer. And most of those messages, I politely decline.
Even if you’re not pitching an article to a prospect, make sure you’re offering them a well-defined service, and you’re clearly stating the potential benefits they’ll enjoy. Show them you’ve done some research and know a little about their business and audience.
Yes… it takes longer.
But, if you go from not landing projects to landing projects, the extra effort is totally worth it!
Common Mistake #4 – Having Unrealistic Expectations
A lot of writers who I’ve talked to over the years start out by telling me how they’ve tried different marketing strategies, how hard they’ve worked at them, and how those strategies haven’t worked at all.
Often, as we get deeper into the conversation, and I ask them more questions, I discover they’ve sent out 10 or 15 emails in all… or tried social media marketing for a week or two. Discouraged about not getting immediate results, they’ve written the marketing method off.
I understand how this happens. I’ve done this myself. When you’ve put a lot of work into a marketing method and you’re excited about how great it’s going to be, it’s easy to feel let down when it’s not instantly successful.
But, most marketing methods don’t result in instant success. They take time and consistent effort.
Whatever marketing method you’re doing, if you feel like it isn’t working, ask yourself… have you set an unrealistic expectation for how quickly you should see a response? And, are you being honest with yourself about how consistently you’re approaching it?
If you’ve been on LinkedIn every day for a year, offering value and making connections, and you haven’t landed a client yet, then yes… maybe LinkedIn isn’t the right method for you.
But, if you’ve been on LinkedIn for two weeks and you’re already starting to feel like it just won’t work for you, I’d suggest sticking with it for a while. Give it a chance to work before you decide it doesn’t.
Common Mistake #5 – Spending Time Educating Your Prospects
This mistake is so easy to make. I still make it from time to time.
When you start researching potential clients, it’s natural to gravitate toward those who need the most help. The website that doesn’t have a blog… the business that doesn’t have a way to sign up for their email list… the company that hasn’t updated its copy in six years.
And yes, every one of those businesses could benefit from hiring you.
But, here’s the thing. They might not know that.
You can see they aren’t investing in their website, they aren’t using a blog, and they don’t have an email list (or, at least, not one people can join from their website). So, chances are high they don’t have much of a budget to spend on their website, or they just don’t understand the value you offer.
Instead of spending time educating this type of prospect on why a blog is valuable, focus on prospects who already have a blog and update it regularly (or, who were updating it regularly until recently).
Those prospects already know blogging is valuable.
Now, it’s easy to dismiss sites that already have a good blog as not needing you, but you don’t know what’s happening in the background. The Content Manager may be scrambling every week to get the blog content done. Your offering to help might seem like a gift from above. The worst that could happen is they say no or nothing at all.
But, you’re far more likely to land projects — and get paid well — when you focus your attention on clients who already use the service you’re offering.
Each of these common marketing mistakes that writers make is easy to fall into. I’ve made most of them myself. Fortunately, they’re also easy to fix. If any one of these stands out for you — you caught yourself thinking, Yeah… I do that — then adjust course and see if you don’t get a better result.
I’m willing to bet you do!