Saturday, February 6, 2010

5 Steps to Help Writers to Develop An Online Presence (And Attract Clients)

There are different ways to approach freelance writing for the web. One way is to quietly go about the business of being a ghostwriter and apply for jobs and stay in the background. Another way is to put your name and face out there and try to attract people and get them to approach you. I like the latter approach as a way to get clients tracking me down rather than being on the constant hunt for work. How do you start this process? It can take time but here are a few strategic marketing steps you can take to develop your brand so that you get noticed.

1 Create a Website
2 Bylines
3 Blogging
4 Helping Others
5 Social Media

Your Writing Business Website

My writing business website has been a powerful marketing tool for me.

When I got started, I used a free Google page to use as a one page online resume that I linked to when applying for jobs. But no one really found that site on their own. As soon as I created my business website (which cost me an initial $35 and the majority of a weekend as I put it together myself) I started increasing the likelihood of potential customers finding me. In fact, I almost never look at job boards. If I find my workload lightening, I market with my website and that typically creates new queries coming in.


A lot of writers don’t agree with writing just for the byline and neither do I. My methods do more for me than let me see my name online. They've helped me build an online presence. I write for article directories and link back to my website and this has helped me do several things:
1. It helps me get indexed for my name in search engines. Article site profiles are on page 1 of Google when people search for my name. Some clients don’t find that very impressive but many of my clients have searched through that profile to get a feel for my writing style. I really wanted to control some of what would be found on page 1 under my name and so this worked like a charm.
2. The sites help with the SEO for my business site and my niche blogs. By keyword anchoring words I wanted to rank for in search engines in the byline, I improve the marketing potential of my website because I increase the chances of people looking for my services finding me. I also use this for article marketing which helps me supplement my income.

Beyond free sites, I’ve also used passive income article sites to help me in this regard. While building some passive income streams, I have increased my presence and several places have led people directly to my website and my “contact” page.


Blogging is how it all started for me, really. I started blogging for fun and found out that people were getting paid to write so I decided to pursue creating a writing business of my own. Blogging helps me expand my SEO reach because I work to rank for keyword phrases in niches that I enjoy writing in. I write on about a dozen of my own blogs to help me build links back to my writing business site, to help me expand passive income streams, and to create samples as well as increase my online portfolio. I also use blogging on my business site to keep traffic and search engines visiting regularly.

If your writing business site becomes static, like a brochure, search engines will eventually stop indexing you and you’ll slide off the first page for terms you worked hard to rank for. Blogging on the site helps me put fresh content on the site, allowing me to gain attention for various keyword phrases I want to target and I also build links pointing to those blog entries to help with my overall search engine optimization strategy as well.

Helping Others

By being a helpful online citizen, this can help you gain attention and build a positive brand. Answer questions on forums and in blog comments and provide information to others (such as by mentoring others in your niche). Doing unto others will definitely reap you rewards and will enhance your online reputation so that when potential customers look you up, they’ll find great things about you. By being public and sharing, you can become known as a subject matter expert in an area of writing and this could also help you command higher rates from new customers as well. When people approach you, you are definitely in the driver’s seat when it comes to rates.

Social Media

Social media allows you to amplify all of the above suggestions by helping you gain more attention from search engines and from people. You can use it to generate traffic to your site, your blogs, articles and guest posts you’ve written. You can also use it to develop relationships and to network. I’ve had writing jobs come as a direct result of social media tools. Embracing social media has done wonders for my writing career and has provided some great inspiration and motivation for me as well.

Only you can decide what type of writer you want to be and whether or not you want to put your name and face out there for others to see. If you do decide to market and promote yourself, you'll find loads of free tools to make the job easier and help you have fun and expand your writing talent in the process!


Sharon Hurley Hall said...

Excellent post, Dana. These are pretty much the steps I followed in creating an online presence and they have worked well. I'd add that the relationships I've built up by doing so have enhanced both my personal and professional life.

Dana Prince said...

Thanks, Sharon. Me, too :)

Christie Lee said...

Hi Dana,

Very helpful and informative post. I like the optimized byline the best as I haven't fully utilized that marketing tactic for my freelance writing business here in San Francisco. For a year now, I try to stay away from article marketing but I recently realized that I'm missing a lot of opportunities so I am going back to online marketing. I thought of writing optimized articles but never really through of including optimized bylines in my articles.

Christie Lee
San Francisco web copywriters