Wednesday, July 13, 2011
7 Tips to Sell Yourself as an Expert Writer
Guest post by Sarah Grace V. Villaflor
Working online means financial and creative freedom for people who don’t want to be tied down to a nine-to-five job in some stifling, crappy office. Online jobs offer the greatest flexibility in terms of schedule, earnings, skills requirement and career growth.
The best thing about being an online freelance writer is that you can pick and choose which projects you want to work on. You deal with your clients and customers personally, and you work at your own pace and on your own terms (within designated deadlines, of course). You don’t have to think about having to get along with rude co-workers or trying to please your nasty supervisor.
Where to start?
Despite the obvious benefits of working online, however, not too many people are able to launch their online writing careers. Part of the problem lies in the inability to offer the right set of skills and competencies that online employers are seeking.
The even bigger issue that you have to address is learning how to sell your services as a reliable, ethical and professional expert writer. Since you’re going to work in a virtual office, you have to work hard to convince your potential employer that you can actually do the job. Unlike working in a physical office environment, your client won’t have the chance to personally and periodically check on your progress and the quality of your output.
The genuine article
Almost all online jobs require tons of trust from both you and your client. To build that trust, you need to sell yourself in just the right way—convincing but not too pushy, honest but still modest. There is nothing to be gained by lying about your credentials or passing off certain published articles as your own.
Here are seven tips to increase the odds of closing your first online writing deal:
1. Put up a website to advertise your services. If you’re not content with just creating profiles in different freelance marketplaces like oDesk.com, Guru.com and Elance.com, you can start crafting a simple website to promote your services online. You can use Blogger, LiveJournal or WordPress as your platform.
2. Provide ways for people to contact you across different media. Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter are just a couple of ideas for you to start spreading the word about your writing services. The more people you can reach, the higher your chances of getting hired.
3. Put together samples of your work, especially those that have been previously published online. The best way to impress your future clients is to gather all your sharpest written works into a great portfolio. Include the links to the places where your work was published so that potential clients can see your articles for themselves. You can also include referral letters and testimonials from previous clients to bolster your chances of getting more work in the future.
4. Be open to trial tasks and pre-employment interviews. Some clients will ask you to do a 500-word trial article to determine if your tone and style is what they are looking for. Don’t be stingy with your effort just because you won’t get paid—work with the same fervor and intensity as if the article will add money to your bank account. Talk to your clients before you accept a project so that you can find out if you can handle the work.
5. Write guest posts for other websites and blogs if you have time. Doing guest posts is a great way to build your reputation and gather contacts in different niches and markets. By writing for other bloggers, you get to showcase your talent as well as increase your exposure to your target audience. It will also help your portfolio if you are able to point potential clients to some guest posts you’ve already established.
6. Always be honest about what you can and cannot do. Don’t pretend to be good in both writing and graphic design unless you can truly deliver on your word. At the end of the day, it’s your reputation that will suffer if you don’t produce a good product for your client.
7. Work at competitive prices. Proper pricing is an important factor when it comes to deciding which online writer will get the job. Your clients want value for their money, but they also want good quality work that is submitted on time.
Sarah Grace V. Villaflor is part of the team that manages ACC, a blog based in Sydney, Australia that wrote about personal finance and small business credit card tips. Before she joined ACC, she was an assistant editor-in-chief of Sandigan.