The marketing component of freelance writing scares away many writers.
Most novice writers are clueless at marketing themselves and their work, and worse, fear it like the plague. Other writers “just want to write”, believing that somehow, miraculously, editors of top shelf magazines will call them with assignments.
However, if you want to be successful at any form of freelance writing — including travel writing, blogging, copywriting, social media, or as an author — you have to be proficient at marketing. It’s all about marketing.
Marketing your writing brand and work is just as important as writing well. You can be the best writer in the world, but if you don’t know how to sell your stories, you’ll wither on the vine, become discouraged, and drift away from this rewarding occupation.
Sadly, this has become the fate of many of my friends, some of whom, I humbly admit, are finer writers than me.
These great writers string their words together beautifully and their stories conjure up all sorts of images when I read them. But sadly, many of them have fallen by the wayside, casualties of battling the marketing demon. One of my best travel writing friends had to make ends meet by working as a sales rep in a travel store, selling suitcases and guidebooks.
Without exception, the top freelance writers and authors around the world making a living in this business all have one thing in common — they’re good at marketing and have marketing machines and platforms in place to peddle their articles and books.
In this elite group I include travel writers like Rick Steves, Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux, Pico Iyer, Tim Cahill, Keith Bellows, Robert MacFarlane, and Sara Wheeler.
These heavy hitters manage to consistently keep their names in front of the media and their peers. And they follow a well thought out, strategic marketing plan.
Marketing is not something you switch on and off when you feel like it. It’s an integral part of being a freelance writer. You’re marketing yourself or your work when you’re on the phone, writing emails, sending out query letters, and on press trip assignments in the field.
The buzz phrase these days is “establishing your platform.” You can use the Internet to build a world-class platform upon which you can stand tall and broadcast your travel writing talents for miles around.
Like a gift from heaven, the Internet and social media have opened up multiple marketing avenues that you can—and should—use to sell yourself and your products and services. And most of it is free!
It’s time to understand that marketing is not a dirty word and that you have to develop your marketing skills in today’s fluid freelance writing arena, or you’ll never take that next step up the travel writing pyramid.
You need a marketing and selling system for your work because there are thousands of other writers out there who write equally as well as you, with good story ideas. It all comes down to who is best at selling his or her story.
If you don’t enjoy this aspect of freelance writing, get over your dislike of marketing and get good at it, fast! Sales and marketing are not dirty words.