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Month: October 2020

11 Strategic Ways to Get New Clients as a Freelance Writer

Whether you’re learning how to become a freelance writer or an experienced freelancer slogging through a slow period, figuring out how to get clients can be nerve-wracking.

Here’s the hard truth: You have to hustle to get new writing clients. Even the most experienced freelancers have to expand their circles on a regular basis to ensure they have a stable stream of paying work.

Websites that post freelance writing jobs are plentiful, but require a critical eye. It’s easy to get sucked into a trap of getting paid $1 for every 300-word post you research and write. And while that might be a good place to start, especially if you’re looking for freelance writing jobs for beginners, it pays to take a more strategic approach once you’re ready to level up your income.

How do freelance writers get new clients?

If you’re going to get high-paying writing gigs and repeat clients, you’ll have to think beyond the job board.

While these strategies can be more effective in the long run than job sites, they might take longer to show results. A job board offers the possibility of an immediate project, while the ideas outlined below sometimes return client opportunities months or even years after you put in the effort.

When you’re ready to go the extra mile, here are some fresh ideas for how to find clients.

1. Personalize your cold calls and emails

Don’t send your pitch to a generic inbox. Do some research to figure out which editor will review your pitch, and then spend more time sleuthing to find their contact information.

“Make sure the right people — the decision-makers — see your message,” advises Francesca Nicasio. “If you’re dealing with a small business or startup, the company’s founder is usually a good bet.”

Yes, this takes more effort than dashing off an email to a company’s inbox for general inquiries. But it’s far more likely to land you a byline.

2. Partner with other freelancers

Do you know any project managers, web developers or graphic designers? Their projects often require top-notch writing skills, which opens opportunities to work together.

If your web development buddy knows you’re willing to team up for a website redesign project, she can recommend you to the client. By sticking together, you might find ways to help one another.

“I have a list of writers I trust to get my clients to hire,” writes Paul Jarvis, who specializes in web design. “I know writing makes or breaks websites and I know the difference a professional makes. So I always suggest experienced writers to all my design clients and they often hire them.”

Supporting other writers can generate referrals, too, as writers who don’t have the bandwidth for a project often want to pass along the name of a qualified writer who can do it instead.

3. Volunteer your services

Volunteering may not pay the bills, but it’s a useful way to network without having to deal with small talk at happy hour.

“Volunteering is a great way to get to know influential people who can help with your freelancing career — especially if you volunteer to do the writing and promotional duties for those projects,” writes Narendra Motwani. The people you meet while volunteering could turn into connections at companies you’d love to write for.

4. Book a speaking engagement

This tip only works if you’re comfortable in front of a crowd. But if you’d rather give a speech than approach strangers at happy hour, it could be a fit. And remember, even speaking in front of 20 people counts; you don’t have to keynote to an audience of thousands of people to be effective.

In an ideal world, you’d speak to audiences that could become clients. For example, if you write in the healthcare space, look for opportunities to speak to people who work at healthcare companies.

But even if you can’t find a perfect match for your niche, getting in front of any audience could pay dividends. Share knowledge that shows you have something to offer, and the people who see you speak might pass your name to someone who needs your expertise.

5. Get back in touch with former clients

If you’re not in regular contact with previous clients or organizations you’ve volunteered for, you could be leaving business on the table.

This outreach can be as simple as a short email or LinkedIn message to check in with someone you once worked with. Look for a way to mention that you have bandwidth for additional work. “You never know when a client might send work your way simply because you popped up on their radar at the right time,” writes Samar Owais.

6. Search for opportunities on Twitter

You’ll never get any work done if you spend all day on Twitter. But by scheduling time each week to use Twitter’s advanced search, you might notice when companies are looking for help.

David Masters has a quick how-to that will get you started and help you refine your search terms. Or you could lean on a service that aggregates Twitter opportunities, like Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week newsletter.

7. Use your skills in a different way

If you feel like you’re banging your head against the wall trying to land a certain type of paying work, push yourself to be more creative about how you use your skills.

For example, can’t find a freelance writing job you feel good about? Consider going after transcription jobs instead. You might find a new niche you enjoy!

8. Write a niche blog

If you’re looking for work as a blogger, you should certainly write a blog of your own. Your blog should focus on a niche, says Carol Tice of Making a Living Writing, although the topic doesn’t have to line up exactly with your target market.

“Clients love to see that you understand how to develop many strong story ideas on a single theme, stick to a topic, write great Internet headlines, attract subscribers, and how to get engagement — comments and social shares,” Tice says. “[Potential clients] will want you to do all that for them.”

9. Sell a product

You only have 24 hours in a day, but selling a product you created help showcase your expertise, which can lead to clients over time. Plus, it never hurts to make money while you sleep.

Consider writing an ebook or white paper as a starting point. With so many online platforms and tools available to digital sellers, it’s never been easier to collect money for your work. If you’re not sure where to start, check out GumRoad, ConvertKit or Substack.

10. Pitch guest blog posts

Guest blogging might not bring in revenue — only some sites pay for guest posts — but it will get your name in front of a lot of potential clients. In fact, some businesses find freelance writers by looking at who writes for their competitors’ websites.

Don’t spread yourself too thin by guest-blogging for everyone, though. After all, you’ll need plenty of time for paid work as it comes in.

11. Sharpen your skills

Still getting nowhere? You might consider investing in yourself by taking some online writing courses.

Of course, you never want to put yourself in a position where you’re spending more than you can earn, but sometimes it’s worth paying for training to set yourself up for success. Many online courses offer feedback from the instructor and interaction with other students, and that could lead to insight about your own skills or approach.

What are your tried-and-true methods for reeling in new clients?

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Photo via fizkes / Shutterstock 

The post 11 Strategic Ways to Get New Clients as a Freelance Writer appeared first on The Write Life.

Scary Reads For Your Halloween Weekend | Writer’s Relief

Our Review Board Is Open!

Submit Your Short Story, Poetry, or Book Today!

DEADLINE: Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Scary Reads For Your Halloween Weekend | Writer’s Relief

What better way to spend a Halloween Saturday than reading a scary-good book while munching on candy corn? Writer’s Relief found a great list of creepy novels at popsugar.com that you should definitely read with the lights on!

Whether you want to spend the night with vampires, ghosts, or witches—choose your next spine-tingling read here.

 

How Writers Can Connect To Create An Effective Emotional Support System | Writer’s Relief

Our Review Board Is Open!

Submit Your Short Story, Poetry, or Book Today!

DEADLINE: Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

How Writers Can Connect To Create An Effective Emotional Support System | Writer’s Relief

You’ve probably heard this time-worn stereotype: Writers are solitary hermits who spend their days, nights, and weekends hunched over keyboards and shunning social interaction. But even the most introverted author will benefit from human connections and emotional support. At Writer’s Relief, we know it’s important it is to interact with others—even if it’s only virtually! Here are some easy ways to connect with other creative writers to create an effective emotional support system that will help you fight writer’s block and beat the rejection letter blues.

How To Form Connections, Gain Emotional Support, And Make Your Writing Life Easier—And More Fun!

Join a trade group for your genre. Consider joining a national organization for your genre. Some examples are Romance Writers of America, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Become a member of a local critique group or writing workshop. If you prefer something less formal than a national organization, consider joining—or even starting!—a writing group in your area. Many are meeting online as well, so you’ll still have the opportunity to connect with other writers and get feedback on your writing. You might also consider signing up for an online writing class.

Consider online social network groups for writers. Whether it’s through an established organization for writers or a more casual group like our Writer’s Relief Café on Facebook, getting support and encouragement from other writers online is just as valuable as meeting in person. Just be sure to exercise caution about divulging personal information online—and be careful about where you post your own writing!

Hire a writing coach or developmental editor. Do you have trouble motivating yourself to write or with sticking to a writing schedule? Many writers do! In addition to getting emotional support and writing advice from your peers, consider hiring a writing coach. A writing coach will help you stick to a writing schedule and guide you in solving issues you may be having with your writing.

Find a critique partner or mentor. While joining writing groups and attending conferences can be so helpful, sometimes you need one-on-one help with your writing. Look for a critique partner—someone to email and swap manuscripts with—to help with editing. If you’re looking for expert, knowledgeable guidance, consider a writing mentor. Any author with experience and a good publishing record in your genre could be a great choice!

Get acquainted with the pros. Consider outsourcing the tasks that drain your energy and spirit so that you’ll have more time to simply write and network with other writers! Working with the experts at Writer’s Relief might be the best choice you’ll ever make for your writing career—we’ll format and proofread your work for publication, and do all the time-consuming busywork to create a personalized list of submissions perfectly targeted for your work. Best of all, our experts will always be professional, courteous, and friendly colleagues on your writing journey. Submit to our Review Board today!

Dealing With People Who Just Don’t Get The Pressures Of Being A Writer

Sometimes your friends, family, and coworkers simply can’t grasp the ups and downs of the writing life or why you love it so much. So it’s important to build yourself a community of writers to guide and support you along your writing journey. You’ll be a lot more successful—and have a lot more fun!—if you don’t try to deal with the pressures of writing (and the unavoidable rejections) all by yourself.

 

Question: What writing community connections have you found most helpful?

Tweets From The Grave: Authors Speak From Beyond | Writer’s Relief

Our Review Board Is Open!

Submit Your Short Story, Poetry, or Book Today!

DEADLINE: Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

Tweets From The Grave: Authors Speak From Beyond | Writer’s Relief

It’s the witching hour, and the darkness is suddenly broken by a pale, sickly glow as the sound of incessant tap…tap…tapping echoes through the night. Oh wait—that’s just a writer taking a late-night break and tweeting! As Halloween draws near, the social media sorcerers at Writer’s Relief have wondered: What if long-dead writers could send us tweets from the grave? Here’s what we imagine our favorite authors would reach out from the beyond to tweet about today! (face-with-tears-of-joy emoji)

17 Tweets From The Grave From Our Favorite Authors—Gasp!

Maya Angelou: There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. That, and having an alien burst out of your chest. #BothNotGood

Edgar Allan Poe: Watching my fav football team—Go #RAVENS!

Robert Frost: Thank heaven neither path took me to 2020. #Blessed

Lorraine Hansberry: Never be afraid to sit awhile and think (before tweeting!) #TuesdayThoughts

Charles Dickens: I can’t believe I’ve been #ghosted! That’s three times!

Agatha Christie: Miss Marple is going to have a much harder time catching the murderer with everyone suddenly washing their hands all the time. #NoEvidence

George Orwell: It’s even worse than I thought. They now carry Big Brother around in their pockets! #Not1984

Paul Laurence Dunbar: Nay, let them only see us while we wear the mask in the grocery store. #MyPandemicSurvivalPlan

Emily Dickinson: Because I could not stop for death, he had to call an Uber. #RidesHere

J.D. Salinger: You aren’t just phonies. You’re cellphonies!!! #MondayMood

Jacqueline Susann: Just got a #newbook idea: “Valley of the Tweets!”

Gabriel García Márquez: Love in the time of quarantine. #NoThanks!

Jane Austen: They made HOW many movies of my books!? #Clueless

James Baldwin: Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. But please wear a mask when you go out! #StaySafe

Leo Tolstoy: 50K words in a month? No problem. #20thYearOfNaMo

Louisa May Alcott: I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ghost ship. #HalloweenSpirit

Shakespeare: Definitely ready to shuffle off this mortal coil in favor of a warm down jacket. #BardsOfAFeather

With these dearly departed authors haunting your Halloween, you might be interested in something that doesn’t leave you chilled to the bone: Have some fun in the sun and check out what these literary characters are tweeting while on vacation!

 

Question: What would your favorite dead author say on Twitter?

 

Seven Tips for Intuitive Writing: The Heart-Hand Connection

Award-winning author Jill G. Hall shares her top tips for how to dive into your latest project head-first.

I didn’t set out to write dual-timeline novels. After leaving a twenty-year career as an educator I thought perhaps I’d write children’s books or maybe a memoir about teaching in inner-city classrooms, but that’s not what happened at all.

I began to attend a weekly drop-in group, that offered prompts with timed sessions. Writing in community helped my pen continue going even when I wanted to stop. Soon characters began to appear on the page out of nowhere. They were from the past and the present unrelated to anyone I’d ever known. They continued to show up week after week, time and again, guiding me to tell their stories. This is how my first novel originated. And that is when I first realized the power of intuitive writing: the practice of learning to trust the heart-hand connection. It means letting go of outlines, plans, and expectations and allowing the power of your intuition to guide you through the writing process. Intuitive writing is creating with your heart first, and not your mind.

(Jill G. Hall: Write With the Heart, Not the Head)

As an intuitive writer, for my first drafts, I put pen to paper and let my characters tell me where they want to go and what they want to do. When I try composing on my computer, I am tempted to make edits, fact check and then I get tangled in research weeds, which interrupts the rhythm and flow of my words.

Writing without an outline, I am compelled to keep writing to find out what happens next. I go deep into my characters with their thoughts and dialog. My characters sometimes come to me in dreams and work their way onto the page. I let them be who they want to be. I don’t try to change them if they’re too sassy, sappy, or sexy. I guess it is a type of unconditional love. The characters lead the story, not me.

After I’ve filled a few journals, I put sticky notes on pages I want to develop further and start typing. It’s not until I’ve typed up a whole draft that I develop my outline. Then on my third draft, I begin putting scenes in order, fact-checking and doing historical research to color in the stories. After I’ve made my manuscript the best it can be, I join a read and critique group facilitated by an expert novelist or hire an editor to give me feedback.

I know this technique isn’t for everyone. Each novelist needs to discover his or her own method. Intuitive writing might take longer than other approaches, but it works for me. Intuitive writing allows my characters to lead the journey. It allows me to follow my breath, fall into the zone, and lose my sense of place and time.

Seven Tips for Intuitive Writing

1. Develop a daily writing practice. We all have different learning styles and I suggest you experiment to find what works for you. I cherish mornings when the house is quiet. I never make early appointments, but rather pour a cup of Chai tea and crawl back into bed with my journal. I let myself write whatever I want: dreams, stream of consciousness thoughts, a poem inspired by the weather outside my window, or if I’m lucky, my characters are with me and show up on the page. Somedays I give myself an assignment to finish a specific scene or draft a pesky email I’d been putting off. I don’t check my phone or turn on my computer until after I’ve filled at least two pages. When I skip my writing practice, I feel off all day.

2. Try writing in community. Writing in community helps keep me going even when I want to stop or when something intimidates me. I continue to attend a weekly group where I’ve been inspired to write some of my favorite material.

3. Be open to surprises and strike when hot. When a great idea comes up, write it down right away! Most of my inspirations come to me unawares and if I don’t write them down, they slip away.

4. Claim your workspace. I type better if my desk is neat without papers and piles spread all over it. I need it to be quiet, but others are more productive with music on. I prefer a pillow beneath me and since I am short, I like a low desk.

(Common Signs You’re in Writer’s Resistance)

5. Connect with a community. Find other writers who can support you along the way and help nourish your work. Take classes and workshops and, when you’re ready, join a read and critique group. In my first typed draft, the scenes were all out of sequence and my technical skills were zilch. But the facilitator and group members were very patient and encouraged me to continue. After writing that full draft, I was able to put it in some semblance of order, and indeed, to my delight, I did have something. I joined another group, did another draft, then drafted more rewrites. Even if you live in a rural area there are now many on-line options you can join.

6. Use prompts. It might be a word, phrase, photo, piece of art, or something in nature. I also like visual prompts such as postcards, photos, and artwork to jumpstart my writing. They keep me focused, and help me go deeper into my characters, settings, and stories. Colors, textures, and details become clearer and flow onto the page with more vividness and sensory descriptions.

(10 Plot Twist Ideas and Prompts for Writers)

7. Set a timer. For me, ten and 17 minutes seem to be the magic numbers. Find yours.

My favorite sources:

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves

Have you always wanted to be a writer? When you take this online writing workshop, you’ll discover your voice, learn the basics of grammar, and examine the different types of writing.

Click to continue.

How To Optimize and Update Your Published Articles and Blog Posts to Rank on Google

There’s no sugar-coating it: The world of SEO can be tricky to navigate — but it’s absolutely doable, even for the newest of newbies.

It’s so worth it, too. SEO is a powerful long-term approach writers can utilize to boost (free!) traffic to their websites or blogs.

Sure, you can build an SEO article from the ground up. (Might I suggest this writer’s guide to mastering SEO?) But it doesn’t have to be that complicated just yet. You can start by optimizing your existing content.

I’ll walk you through my approach — as a writer myself — to on-page SEO optimizations.

On-page SEO optimizations: What does that mean anyway?

Let’s start with the basics. In the SEO world, there are a ton of technical terms, but don’t let that scare you.

When we talk about on-page SEO optimization, we’re talking about taking an existing article or page and updating it to increase its chances of ranking on Google — aka attracting more eyeballs.

On-page SEO optimizations can be a relatively easy way to step into the SEO world. After all, you already have the content out there. You just need to make some updates so Google will take notice.

How to identify content worth optimizing for SEO

First and foremost: It’s not worth attempting to optimize every single article on your website or blog. You have to remember different pieces of content serve different purposes. Some will work better on social. Others are perfect for your email newsletter audience. And some just might have the potential to rank on Google.

So how do you determine which of your existing articles are worth optimizing?

I suggest starting with the low-hanging fruit. Using a free SEO tool like Ubersuggest, search your website’s URL. You’ll see which pages get the most traffic through Google and with what keywords. You might identify a great opportunity to optimize what’s already working well and climb the (Google) ranks.

If you don’t yet have enough traffic to your site, or you’re not spotting any obvious keyword potential, you can always do a quick DIY survey of your content.

When doing this, I like to think about what folks Google. I look for articles that take the shape of ultimate how-to guides, “best of” lists, product comparisons, recommendations, questions answered… you name it. These posts tend to be more all-encompassing and lengthy in nature. Perfect for Google.

Let’s take a quick assessment of some articles on The Write Life and use them as examples.

I’m seeing articles about the best laptops for writers, how to self-publish a book, how to get paid to write and a guide to Upwork. I suspect people are searching these terms, so these all have the potential to make strong SEO articles. (And in many cases, they do!)

On the other hand, something like “ways writers can recreate the coffee shop experience” probably isn’t something that gets searched a ton, so you probably wouldn’t want to focus your efforts on optimizing it. However, it’s great content for other platforms like social pages, community groups or newsletters.

Once you pluck a few ideas from your site, it’s time to dive in with some keyword research.

A step-by-step guide to the on-page SEO optimization process

This is the fun part of SEO optimizations (at least in my humble opinion). I’ll walk you through each step I take when optimizing an article for SEO.

Step 1: Pinpoint your target keyword

If you don’t already have a selected keyword, you’ll need to do some research. Remember, your keyword is the word or phrase you want to rank for on Google.

Use a keyword research tool for this. We love Ahrefs around these parts, but again Ubersuggest is a great (and free!) alternative.

So let’s say you want to optimize an article about cold brew coffee. Type the core terms into Ubersuggest. In this case, it’d be “cold brew coffee.” Leave out any unnecessary adjectives, prepositions or articles. Here’s another example: If you were optimizing a post about how to self-publish a book, you might simply search “self-publish book.”

Going back to the cold brew coffee example, when you search that term in Ubersuggest, you’ll find there’s a high search volume (49,500 when we looked). That’s great! That means tens of thousands of people are searching the term each month.

However, you’ll see the SEO difficulty (SD) is pretty high. (At the time we checked, it was 58.) The SEO difficulty ranges from zero to 100, and the closer you can get to zero, the better.

If you scroll down, you’ll find more keyword ideas. View all keyword ideas to see what related terms people search. Consider the different angles.

Remember: Your goal is to find a relevant keyword with a high search volume and a low SD.

Also, keep your reader top of mind. The keyword “how to make cold brew coffee” has a lot of potential — 33,100 monthly searches with a 22 SD. But if you want to optimize a review you wrote of the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks, readers are less likely to click because you’re not giving them what they’re looking for.

For the sake of this example, let’s optimize our hypothetical article with the keyword, “how to make cold brew coffee.” It has a high search volume and a relatively low SD.

Step 2: Read Google’s mind

You’re about to read Google’s mind. Think you’re ready? It’s not as difficult as you might think!

In this step, your goal is to better understand what Google considers top-ranking material for this keyword. Really, you’re just surveying your competition.

Here’s what you’ll need to do: Search your target keyword in Google, and take a good look at the first page of results. Start taking notes on:

  • The top-ranking articles: Read through the top three to five ranking articles. What content do they cover? What questions do they answer? Take inventory of headlines, formatting, tables and graphics.
  • The featured snippet: For some keywords, Google will populate what’s called a “featured snippet.” This is the box of text that populates at the top of your Google search. Note the content it’s highlighting. This is Google saying, “Hey, here’s the best answer!” If you can rank in this top spot, you’ll get more views, but fair warning: It’s pretty tough.
  • People also ask: This box contains questions related to your keyword. Consider: Are these relevant questions you could answer in your article? For instance, people also ask, “Can regular coffee be used for cold brew?” You could probably easily answer this somewhere in your article: “You can use regular coffee for cold brew. In fact, you can use any sort of coffee you’d like.”
  • Related searches: Finally, scroll down the related searches at the bottom of the first page. See if anything stands out. You might get some good ideas for topics you can add to your existing content like, “how to make cold brew in a mason jar” or “how to strain cold brew coffee.”

Again, the goal here is to simply take inventory and survey your competition. In a way, you’re getting inside Google’s brain to see what it “likes.”

Step 3: Beef up your article

It’s finally time to write!

With on-page optimizations, you’ll work with the existing content you have. There’s rarely a reason to delete everything and start over. You simply want to beef up your article with additional information, reporting, graphics or sections you noted in step two.

Of course, you never want to copy what exactly another top-ranking site is doing. Make this your own! But maybe one article included a neat graphic, and that sparked an idea. Or maybe another article listed several cold brew coffee recipes at the end of their guide. Perhaps you add one or two of your own. Again, use your research as inspiration and guidance — not your rulebook.

As you work, keep your reader in mind. This is one reason I love SEO writing — your goal is to serve the reader and give them all the information they’re seeking. Now, this doesn’t mean you want to jam-pack your article with every single element you noted from the top-ranking articles.

Instead, ask yourself: If I wanted to learn how to make cold brew coffee, what would I want or need to know?

Additionally, maintain your natural writing style and voice. Although SEO writing may feel a bit more prescriptive, you’re not writing for a robot. Avoid keyword-stuffing at all costs. (That means awkwardly wedging keywords into your post.) Again, SEO is all about the reader.

You’ll want to pay close attention to your headline (or title tag), excerpt (or meta description), you subheads (or H2) and your image descriptions. If you can do so naturally, include your keyword in these.

Links also help boost page rankings, so find opportunities to link out to credible sources. Or, once you republish your newly refreshed article, see if you can find other pages to link to it on your site (again, when relevant!).

Step 4: Give it a week and check in

The optimization process is ongoing, and it’ll likely take a good bit of experimenting.

Once you update your content, give it a week or so before checking in on it. Again, you can use Ubersuggest to peep your top pages and keywords.

After a few months, take another look at what’s ranking on Google for your intended keyword, and see if there’s anything else you can do to boost your rankings.

The ultimate key? Patience and persistence. The optimization process is ongoing. Google is constantly shifting its algorithms, and new articles are jumping in to compete for those rankings each day. Just keep your fingers to the pulse, and keep working. I have faith you’ll land on the magical Page One eventually!

Got an article in mind you’d like to optimize? Share your updates in the comments below!

Photo via franz12 / Shutterstock 

The post How To Optimize and Update Your Published Articles and Blog Posts to Rank on Google appeared first on The Write Life.