Marketing for Writers
If you’re like me you probably think heaven is being left alone in a room where you can mutter, giggle and punch the air with excitement while you write reams and reams of words that will never see the light of day. The first problem with this scenario is, other people just think you’re mad or lazy. The second, more pressing problem are the bills you can’t pay. Being paid to mutter to yourself and be generally anti-social changes the dynamic of your situation: you’re no longer a hobbyist or dreamer, you’re a professional writer. Yes, I know it all sounds too easy doesn’t it, because you’re a writer and you know how hard it is to get paid to write. It is hard, but not impossible if you’re prepared to treat your writing like a business and market your skills accordingly.
If you’re like many writers I know, you want a publisher in shining armour to come along and do all that icky stuff for you but those times are long gone, even for published authors. If you really want to be a professional writer, it’s time to treat your writing career as you would any other. There are certain unique attributes you possess that are marketable, so sit down with a pen and go through the following checklist to see if you’re marketing ready:
- Accept that your novel/script/poetry cycle may not be published in the short-term, and when it is, it may not make enough money for you to live on.
- Accept that you may have to work for less than you’re worth when you begin. Most freelancers, regardless of what they do, have to charge less than their established counterparts. This doesn’t mean you’re worth less; it’s an indicator of a very competitive market.
- Make a list of your formal training and life knowledge. For example, perhaps you are a dog-groomer and you write part-time. You can use your grooming skills in a pet care blog, or approach grooming companies to write their advertising copy.
Once you’ve established that you’re ready to dip your toe into the shark infested waters of marketing (you’re a writer, you know what I’m talking about), don’t go mad and spend up big on stationery and hardware. Most people you contact will be via email or skype, and if your current computer has worked until now it will last a few more months. Set yourself the following tasks:
- Start a Facebook page. If you don’t have an account, admit defeat and join. A Facebook page gives you a ready-made forum of your friends, and their friends, and their friends….you get the picture. List your writing successes, share a link to your blog (we’ll get to that) and generally waffle on about writing without fear of censure. Just remember though, that this is not a ‘love me, love my work’ page. I use my page to send updates of current Australian competitions and happenings in publishing. I sometimes offer information about myself, but this is the exception, not the norm.
- Start your own blog. Building your blog doesn’t need to be expensive or difficult. Google the subject and you will find plenty of advice on cheap, easy options. Good reasons to write a blog include:
- Write interesting blogs and you will get a following, and may even get advertising
- You can send your blog link to potential employers to give them an idea of your style and interests – this proves you are actively writing and somewhat social media savvy
- There are blogging gigs out there that pay well, but you need a track record
- Join online writers’ groups that have similar interests to you. Often the key to getting a job is being in the right place at the right time. Online Writers’ groups regularly post publishing updates and commercial gigs.
- Join twitter. Again, don’t indulge in a love-fest. This is about getting your profile out there and engaging with like-minded people, groups and companies. Don’t use twitter to spam people about the amazing experience of being you! Use it wisely and you will build a solid following that will be looked upon favourably by would-be employers.
- Get an ABN and PayPal account, join Skype and make sure your social media links are listed in your email signature.
- Last but not least, be active in your own community. Go to writers’ festivals and offer creative writing courses for students at your local school. If you have teaching skills, design and run one-day writing courses at your local Community College or Writers’ Centre.
Freelance websites for writers:
So now you’re online and looking for your first writing gig. There are a huge number of Australian freelance websites out there. You could sign up for a number of them to keep the income flowing. Here’s a couple of Australian sites you might find useful:
- www.freelancer.com.au Easy to join, with hundreds of jobs available and the advantage of bidding.
- https://au.copify.com/jobs Has a large variety of writing jobs to choose from.
Freelance writing websites come and go, so doing regular Google searches for writing jobs will keep you up to date with the latest jobs.