Freelance writers: setting time aside for self-promotion

The life of a freelance writer is awesome - we all know that, or we probably wouldn't be doing it.  You might be crazy busy for a few days, churning out document after document for one of your clients... and then nothing.  No assignments, no new business and you're writing just for the sake of writing.

That's fine - that's part of the freelance writing lifestyle when you're first starting out.  But you don't want to be stuck in the toddler phase forever, right?

If few people know you're a freelance writer (who writes for a living), you're not going to make much money.

That's why it's important to set aside some time every week, every day or even every six hours for self-promotion.

You can promote your freelance writing skills through business cards when you're not even working (hand one to the lady in line at the grocery store, drop some off at your kids' school), but you probably need to do more than that to give your freelance writing business wings.

If you don't have anything to do, promote yourself.

Check this out:


A copy of yesterday's Craigslist Ad


I've posted that ad before in another area, and it worked like crazy.  I got a couple regular clients from it.  So I posted it again yesterday in an area where I'd like to expand my clientele - Los Angeles. 

Why did I post a freelance writing ad in Los Angeles?
  • I have two amazing clients in Los Angeles already, and they're willing to provide references for me - and happy locals are trustworthy references when someone is looking in to hiring you as a freelance writer
  • There are zillions of web designers based in Los Angeles, and they're my current target market because they:
1. Bring repeat business
2. Know what freelance writers' time is worth and are willing to pay fairly because it makes them look good when they provide awesome web content
When I ran an ad similar to this in New York City, I gained a couple clients and made a good friend.  My friend is a wonderful lady who owns a couple staffing companies, and she's so much fun to e-mail back and forth.

Why did I choose Craigslist?  It's free.  FREE.  And people look at it.  One of the clients I got from scouring the Los Angeles Craigslist ads myself sent me this e-mail:

"Angie –



Hey, I’ll see if I can get approval on that, shouldn’t be a problem, though our accounting is pretty strict when it comes to standardized payment terms but as you’re a new writer (from craigslist at that =)), they should make an exception. After that PayPal payment is made though, we typically pay freelance contractors net1. On the 15th of the month, they’re paid for the previous month’s work. Will this work for the remaining balance?


The client has a number of websites, the 2 that we’re trying to target are www.bestdebtoptions.com and www.thedebtanswer.com


Thanks

Stephen"

 
Even if you're not posting your own ads, you might want to have a look at the ads already there.  I found a freelance writer with an amazing ad - it was great because it was a professional-looking picture of a document.  Different font sizes, a photo of himself, and links to his website.  You can write Craigslist Ads with html, so you can put anything you want in there.  I prefer the simplicity of two links to my site, but you can experiment all you want.

I've got a couple of tips for posting ads on Craigslist, though:
  • don't use your everyday e-mail address; set one up through Yahoo! or gmail, because you'll get 419ers trying to get you to send them bank information
  • don't put your phone number in the ad - instead, include a link to a site your phone number is on;  scammers are pretty lazy and won't generally visit your links
  • if you're offering a discount through Craigslist, make sure you ask new clients where they found you so you can live up to your promise
  • Craigslist will not let you spam their site - so change the words in each ad instead of trying to re-post the same one in different locations
If you spend about a half-hour coming up with ad copy, you're on the right track.  You're gaining freelance writing experience (some day, a client is going to ask you to come up with ad copy) and you're getting your name out there.  Craigslist ads provide the opportunity to drive traffic to your freelance writing website, too - and that never hurts.

Good luck!

Have you had good or bad experiences posting classified ads?  Where do you post?  Please share your comments, and include a link to your own site or blog.