One Marketing Strategy That Can Boost Your Writing Income

What I’m listening to: Harvest Moon by Neil Young

I was off most of last week (not totally unexpectedly), and fortunately, the work that came in could be moved to this week. My cousin was in town, and I was entertaining her until somfile7011241533598-36ewhere around 8-9 pm every day. I had some work that couldn’t wait, so I was working before 9 am and after 8 pm. I never thought my brain could function beyond five, but it’s amazing what a little deadline
pressure does.

Luckily, last week was the conference, so most of my current clients were attending and not needing anything. I certainly checked emails and answered a few calls, but to be able to do that from the mall or a restaurant was a blessing.

This week, I dive in to more projects and more marketing. Time to kick up the marketing push. That marketing will consist of letters of introduction (LOIs), social media contact, and some follow-up with previous contact from both existing clients and potential clients. April’s earnings totals may not be fantastic, but I’m working to make sure May’s totals are. So far, there will probably be $3K in invoices on current projects, so it’s a start at least. The goal is to shove that number higher.

To do that, I increase the odds. Here’s the one marketing strategy I use that boosts my income every time. I start with this:

I increase the number of contacts I make.

Not exactly rocket science, is it?

Nor does it need to be. Increasing your freelance writing income is going to take some work, but it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than reaching out to more people. It’s like in hockey — the more often you shoot at the goal, the more likely it is that you’ll score.

If you contact more potential clients, you will increase the number of clients who buy from you.

That doesn’t mean you send the same letter or email to everyone and just switch out the salutation. Here’s where the work comes in: you should write a personalized note each time.

Even that shouldn’t take up your entire day. If it does, you’re overdoing it. Go back and read my post, Winning Over Clients, on how to research a prospective client in under five minutes.

The work doesn’t stop there. Well, it does, but you still have a little bit of tidying up to do once you get your marketing message out (however you choose to do that). You now have to take a look at what’s working. It’s the law of averages:

The marketing message and format that nets the most response is the one I use most often.

Again, not rocket science. However, you’d be surprised how many freelance writers fail to look at what they’re sending and what is garnering the most response. Still, don’t be afraid to mix it up on occasion: it’s a good idea to try new things, and something else could work better for you. Just don’t be schizophrenic in your marketing or both you and your prospects will get lost.

Here’s the last piece of this marketing strategy. In fact, this is the easiest piece, and often it’s the most overlooked and underused bit:

Following up with each message increases even more the positive response rate.

So, in order to boost your writing income, do these three things:

  1. Increase the number of contacts you make
  2. Review regularly which message and method works best, then stick with it most often
  3. Follow up on every contact you make
Writers, what methods do you use to increase your freelance writing income?
How often do you review your message?
Do you ever switch up how you reach prospects? If so, what results have you seen?

About the author




  • Paula Hendrickson April 18, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    I used to knock myself out writing queries, but realized LOIs are way more effective for me. I now reserve queries for pitching specific ideas, and focus more on letting editors know who I am and figuring out how I can be of service to them.

  • Jake Poinier April 18, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    This is exactly correct. Nothing beats volume, and it's so critical to put in the time to craft a personal message to each contact.

    My sense–purely anecdotal–is that people worry about "What if all of them come through?!" First, that's probably not going to happen. Second, if it does happen, you just need to be smart about triage: who you say yes to, and on what terms. Even if you have to turn something down, you're still on that person's radar.

  • Lori Widmer April 19, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Paula, exactly. I'd rather reach out to a new editor with a LOI than with a query. Better to establish the relationship first.

    Jake, volume and personalization – funny how they're connected! I think you sense correctly. There's little chance of it all working at once. If it does, accept what's best, and have your writer network in place should you take on a bit more than you can handle.

  • Devon Ellington April 21, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    Following up is important, and so it staying in touch, a couple of times a year, just a "hey, how are you? Thinking of you" type of email.

  • Lori Widmer April 22, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Devon, isn't it surprising how that one small thing can make a huge impact?

  • mojo April 28, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Here's how I started after a layoff from a large metro daily in 2009.
    I made a list of the organizations I admired, particularly if I knew someone working there who could vouch for me.
    I asked to speak to the executive director. I told them why I admired their organization, why I wanted to be part of their team, and why I was a solution to any of their writing problems. I asked them to try me out for anywhere between 1-3 months, at 5 hours a month. I asked for $100 an hour – in the NY metro area, most places didn't blink at that, but had I stayed in my native Buffalo, NY, for example, I would have had to lower the hourly rate.
    I told those I approached that I would do any writing they needed short of porn novels. So instead of an executive struggling over a fund-raising letter for two hours, I suggested, they could give it to me and I could crank it out in 20 minutes. I told them if they hired me, I would save them money, time and hassle by freeing them up from writing so they could do something else. And I told them at the end of the trial period, if I hadn't saved them money, fire me.
    Nobody fired me. I got a roster of clients. And I was off.

  • Lori Widmer April 28, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Mojo, that's a great story! I like your pluck. 🙂

    Good for you — you turned a lousy situation into opportunity.