Freelance Writing – Building Your Writer Platform

Your Writer Platform: What Is It and Why Is It Important?:

Without a writer platform, you’ll never be successful. It’s that important for me to build my writer platform – so I can earn a higher rate, find my ideal clients and ultimately have prospects coming to me.

Sure, I’d have to learn how to pitch and effectively source jobs, but having a writer platform can give me the upper edge in standing out and attracting higher paying clients.

What is your writer platform?

Simply put, your writer platform is a collective tool you use to promote and market your services. These promotional tactics like guest posting, using social networks or having a website is how you will market your services.

Why is having a writer platform important to my success?

When a business decides to hire a freelance writer, they want assurance this person is reputable and is who they say they are. This eases their mind and makes it far more likely they’ll work with you on a reoccurring basis.

A writing platform can help build your reputation.

There are many ways to build your reputation online. Here are some ways Elna did it:

  • Glowing testimonials from satisfied customers
  • A professional persona she created online
  • Online transparency by being honest and truthful
  • A recognized brand and unique selling point

A writing platform can convey authority.

One of the most important things to do to establish yourself as a freelance writer is to have a sense of authority or influence online. Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Having content on popular websites
  • Networking with influencers in your industry. These are popular bloggers, digital marketers, and other freelance writers
  • Having high-profile clients

A writer profile can demonstrate your social influence.

Clients like to work with freelance writers that have an online social presence. You can do this by:

  • Having multiple social media profiles
  • Having a huge following
  • Generating a lot of social shares and comments on your blog

Higher-paying writing gigs.

It’s easier to attract higher-paying clients because of your status and influence online.

These types of clients already know they want to work with you before they even contact you. They usually don’t fuss over your rate and they know the value of content. And when you can show your expertise in a niche, clients won’t hesitate to pay top dollar for your services.

You’ll have clients coming to you.

This is a great feeling once you reach this point in your career. Within two months of starting her freelance writing business and slowly building my writer platform and brand, Elna received her first outbound client query.

While she didn’t get the gig, it was great she finally “made it”.

IMPORTANT: With that in mind, how do you want to portray yourself online? Elna gave me a few options – namely geeky, cute, sleek, colorful or something totally unique. I don’t have a solid idea yet, but if I had to choose a motif which fits my personality, I’d strive for sleek or geeky. This will be established once I officially set up my website.

  Setting Up Your Writer Website:

While Elna posted the benefits of a free vs paid hosting, I already know I’ll purchase my domain and host name since I want to have a professional presence online. Anything less (aka free) is unacceptable.

Let’s post a few config ideas for my website.

IMPORTANT: First, I’ll most likely be using Bluehost or whatever hosting service I used for adamsladder.com. After that, I will most certainly be using WordPress as my platform. When it comes to themes, I will have to consult Jon and see what his thoughts are.

IMPORTANT: When it comes to site themes, it’s important to choose a theme which attracts my ideal client. For me, that’s technology businesses and entrepreneurs in the software engineering field.

What Elna recommends is going with a free theme in the beginning as a cost saving measure. Once I’ve landed a few clients, think about investing in my business and going with a customized paid theme to give my business site that extra boost in attracting leads.

Basic Elements of a Writer Website:

When first starting out, I don’t need many pages on my website. The most important thing to remember is having a user-friendly experience and above all, making my site inviting and professional.

This means:

  • My menu is easy to navigate
  • I have easy to read fonts. Choosing a font that’s big and isn’t scrunched together will make reading a breeze.
  • IMPORTANT: I have a brand. I will go into this later, but having an established brand can help me look more professional and overshadow the fact I’m a new writer.

Another thing to have on my writer website is social sharing buttons (in my case – LinkedIn… for now). This will help market my content and will be an indicator of social proof for prospects looking at my site.

IMPORTANT: As for the pages to have on my website, when Elna first started she had a:

  • Blog
  • Hire Me page
  • About page
  • Portfolio
  • Services page (add this)

Once I have a client or two under my belt, I am free to add a Reviews page.

Your Home Page

My homepage will be the place my prospects will land or go to and it will be a way to get a better picture of who I am and what kind of services I provide.

IMPORTANT: Freelance writing home pages usually have:

  • My title: What type of writer am I? On Elna’s website, she has her title on the banner itself and it isn’t immediately recognizable on her first website.
  • My logo: I have Jon doing this one.
  • A headshot (todo): Use a recent professional photo of me.
  • A clear call-to-action: My landing page should tell the reader what you want them to do (hint: It’s hiring me). So make it clear with a call-to-action button or link. Something like, “let’s collaborate”, or “contact me”, or “let’s talk”, anything which points to hiring me.
  • My selling copy: In the beginning, I had no clue what to write, but after looking at a ton of freelance writing websites, Elna came up with what I saw on her first website. It’s decent, but remember, it’s always a work in progress.

Creating a Visual Identity With Branding:

My personal brand makes a big chunk of my writing platform.

So as a new person to freelance writing and branding, let’s find out ways to brand myself.

Elna can’t stress this enough, but a huge factor in my success is my continual writing presence online. Whether I’m updating my Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, or leaving comments on blogs and blogs in the industry I want to write for, being online regularly will help me land clients.

IMPORTANT: For Elna, Twitter and LinkedIn have yielded the largest amount of profitable leads.

  1. Create a Gravatar (which I just did)
  2. Create a professional email + add a signature to it. (Did that, too.)
  3. Give yourself a title (Already done – “Adam, Freelance Writer”)
  4. Add personality to your author bio (Will complete this in Module 3)
  5. Finally, brand your writing (this deserves it’s own section)

When I start out as a freelance writer, I will begin to find my own unique voice when writing. My voice is a distinct personality, style or point of view. Each writer has a certain way of forming sentences, conveying thoughts and using examples in their writing. For example, Elna starts her own sentences with coordinating conjunctions – and or but.

IMPORTANT: By improving your writing and research skills, over time I will adapt a style of writing that prospects like and seek to find in their writers.

Maximizing Your Unique Selling Point:

Do you know why certain freelance writers don’t have a problem getting gigs?

Sure, they may have an optimized writer website, or have guest posts on several blogs, but the one thing that sets them apart from all the other writers out there is their unique selling point.

Part of being a freelance writer is having a strong marketing strategy. That’s why Elna talks alot about building her writing platform and brand.

IMPORTANT: It’s essentially three things: Your unique selling point, your writer platform and your brand that will not only help attract clients, but it will also help you stay in the business for a long time.

This creates an opportunity to generate a livable income from writing and eventually other sources of online income.

When Elna first started, she didn’t have a unique selling point. It was probably three or four months into freelance writing when she thought about her marketing strategy and how she could sell herself apart. She needed to come up with something so she could appear valuable in someone else’s viewpoint.

And that’s where the USP (“Unique Selling Point”) comes in – it’s the reason why a client should hire you. It’s a combination of things that help you stand out.

So, for Elna, her USP comprised of:

  • Her unique background of being a mother of twins
  • Her writing skill
  • Her price

When it’s all put together, you end up having: Quality content from an innovative mother.

That was Elna’s tagline that summed up her entire business. But, she also made sure to mention she was a mom to twin toddlers and that her rates were reasonable. Since then, her USP has evolved. Nowadays it’s:

I use my expert knowledge and personal experience to craft compelling content that gets read.

Developing Your Unique Selling Point

Don’t think of your USP as a tagline or a phrase; think of it as a number of elements you want to reference in your website and as your marketing strategy.

IMPORTANT: I can use a number of things to add as my USP:

  • My credentials or expertise in a certain industry. In this case, my experience as a software engineer for over three years.
  • The type of clientele I seek. In this case, it will be small to mid sized tech businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • “Extras” that are unique to you. In my case, let’s just go with I’m a horror video game aficionado or the fact I’m an aspiring traveler.

Your About Page:

One of the pages on my website will be my About page.

IMPORTANT: Let’s be upfront before I begin: Don’t talk about myself on my About page!

A common mistake new freelance writers make is thinking their About page is the place to talk about where they went to school and how writing came into their lives. While this might be fine on my personal blog, it won’t on a professional blog.

Remember, the job of my website is to sell me! So, for that to happen, my copy needs to speak to the client.

It’s All About the Client

PART I: The Headline

On Elna’s website, her heading directly addresses her client’s problems when looking for a freelance writer.

Are you running your own business alone? Do you find you don’t have enough hours in the day to get everything done?

See what she did? She made it about the client and her client’s problems.

A few other good examples are:

Need custom, exclusive content but don’t have the time to create it? – Alicia Rades

You need an expert who understands what makes engaging content your audience eagerly consumes – Bree Brouwer

Writing content to help your business succeed – Sharon Hurley Hall

PART II: Talk About the Solution to the Problem

You stated a problem, now give them a solution. Let’s look at how Elna accomplishes that:

I’m Elna Cain, a freelance writer for hire. I add color to your content by making it

I can see she incorporated my tagline “I add color to your content” as her solution to helping you write content. She also makes sure to include her content is SEO friendly and attracts readers on social media.

These precise things – SEO and “click-worthy” content – are important determinants for clients when they take my services into consideration. They want to know my writing will give them the traffic they need or the sales they require.

PART III: My Expertise

Many About pages Elna has seen from freelance writers read almost like a résumé. They have paragraph upon paragraph listing their job description and the skills they have.

This won’t get me hired. What will is short copy that’s to the point. Briefly state my experience and expertise.

PART IV: My USP and Social Proof

Elna wrote a long USP which is listed on her course, but let’s compare that with what people usually write, which is: I’m well trained in SEO and have extensive knowledge in industry related keywords (focused on me).

She says:

I know how to craft my writing so that it ranks in Google. I also know how to tailor my words so that it generates many shares and Likes on social media (focused on the client).

When I can turn my copy around and focus on the prospect, I make it easier for them to understand the VALUE they will get when they hire me.

When You Can Talk About Yourself

It may look like my About page is just another Hire Me page, but it doesn’t have to be. I CAN be more personal as long as it relates to my freelance writing niche or services.

For example, if I were a lawyer before becoming a freelance writer, I can mention this IF my writing niche is law.

So, if my background lends well to your freelance writing niche and gives it credibility, then use it.

Here’s an example of how to weave that experience in a succinct way:

I spent several years working as a safety manager in the construction, mining and manufacturing industries. I also have a Master’s in Environmental Health and Safety.

That’s why I’ve chosen to specialize as a safety and industrial writer. Because I’ve been on the other side. For many years, I was in the exact same shoes as your target market. I know their struggles and I understand their buying process. This makes me uniquely qualified to write high quality content for your readers.

IMPORTANT: So, when setting up your website, consider wording your About page more for the prospect and less about you.

Your Hire Me Page:

My Hire Me page (or Services page) is the one piece of real estate on my website that will turn a visitor into a customer. So, what I say has to convince a prospective client I am the person for the project.

Here are some points to start off:

Recap What You Do

When I want prospects to view my entire site, most likely they will only read either my About page or my Hire Me page. It’s a good idea then, to re-cap my “sales pitch” so to speak.

Show Prospects How Your Content Will Help Them

It’s always a good idea to keep reminding what my content will do for their business. Even if they have an idea in mind, it’s always nice to reassure them that I can deliver.

Include Your Niche Topics

One thing that’s important to mention on my Hire Me page is my niche topics. This can instantly alert a prospect as to whether I am a good fit for their business. I can also list topics I am interested in writing for or have an interest in.

What You Do and Don’t Do

To make the hiring easier for the client, I can include a list of what I do and don’t do. Examples of things I might or might not do when you collaborate with a client:

  • Provide all the blog topics
  • Guest post on behalf of the client
  • Upload posts to their content management system (e.g. WordPress)
  • Include a feature image with all your blog posts

I can also mention things I don’t do, if I feel it’s necessary.

Getting Images for Your Portfolio:

When it comes to starting off, I can write on Medium to showcase in my portfolio. Since I’m done writing my freelance writer website, that will be my next goal. After I get three pieces done, I will submit them on Medium -> create my social media profiles and then have the WordPress Designer create my website.

I will write three blog pieces based on my tech niche.

First though, let’s get through the Building Your Portfolio section before I write those pieces.

Your Social Media Profiles:

It can’t be said enough, but having a social media presence is crucial to growing your writing platform and brand, and ultimately help you succeed.

And one more thing, when I start guest posting and pitching to clients, all of their applications will have spots to fill in your social media profiles.

At the start of Elna’s journey, she landed three clients on Twitter and two clients on LinkedIn. Facebook is where she grew her blog audience and her subscriber list the fastest.

While there are technically five platforms she recommends to grow my freelance writing business, I’ve decided on using three during my start. They are:

Facebook

Most people are on Facebook, but Elna recommends I create a professional Facebook page for my freelance writing business.

Even though she didn’t land any gigs there, she believes having a professional freelance writing page on Facebook is crucial to being visible.

Elna typically shares her blog’s latest post as well as her client pieces. She occasionally shares status updates regarding her business such as mentioning an interview with a potential client or newspaper.

IMPORTANT: Create a professional freelance writing page on Facebook.

Update: Done.

Twitter

When Elna first started, she didn’t have a Twitter account. However, when she created one, her business began booming. It is imperative that I use Twitter (and LinkedIn) as my primary social media accounts for growing my business.

IMPORTANT: Create a professional freelance writing page on Twitter.

Update: Done.

LinkedIn

Since I already have a professional LinkedIn account, I will modify my current account until I quit my software engineering job to reflect my current occupation as a freelance writer.

 4 Ways to Optimize Your Social Media Presence:

Now that I have social media handles, how does that help me land clients? I already know social media by itself is a huge time sink and a distraction overall.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT look at your professional social media accounts every day.

There are ways around this so that I don’t have to be on Twitter or Pinterest every day promoting my business. Instead, here are four ways to optimize my time on social media so that I can grow my presence as a new freelance writer.

Automate Your Posts for Twitter

IMPORTANT: This is the only step I won’t follow. The rest are totally doable.

A simple way to appear like I’m on social media all the time is to automate my posts. Of course, this means I need a blog, guest posts, other people’s posts and even client posts to schedule. There are several free automation tools available: Hootsuite, Buffer, and IFTTT.

Tag Influencers or Companies

On Twitter – and even Facebook – I can tag people (@asmockwrites) to let them know I featured them or think they would like what I’m sharing. When I tag someone, they receive notification on their wall.

Similarly, as a new freelance writer, I can tag an influencer or company if I think the post is suitable or that I mentioned them in my post.

Comment on Relevant Blogs

One of the things that is important when I become a new freelance writer is to get my name out there. This whole module is helping you find avenues to get out there and make it easy for prospective clients to find me and hire me. One easy way to do this is to comment on relevant blogs in my niche.

Update Your Social Media Profiles

A final way to optimize my social media presence is to make sure I’m keeping my profile up-to-date.

Elna changes her writer website visual brand every year, and ties to update her profile image yearly. This means I have to also update my Gravatar and social media profiles with new images.

When I update my look, I’ll probably see a spike in inquiries. This is what happens to Elna whenever she update her writer website.

This is the end of the module!

By I you should have learned:

  • My writer platform is the foundation to my success as a freelance writer. Without a strong platform, I’ll have a hard time attracting quality clients.
  • My writer website is like my online business card. It needs to have strong copy to convince a prospect that I’m the one to hire.
  • Start building my brand by signing up for a Gravatar.
  • To stand out from every other freelance writer, come up with a unique selling point. This is something that I have and that I can market.
  • Pay attention to the copy on my About page and Hire Me page. Focus on the client at all times!
  • Focus on building two or three social media profiles


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