A common marketing / networking tool for new freelance writers is the forum. You can join forums in just about any niche - sometimes they're stand-alone sites and sometimes they're an add-on community to another resource. But how can you use forums to get decent freelance writing gigs? Here are a few tips that I use regularly to get high-paying gigs from online forums:
- Join more than just writing forums. While they're great for networking with other writers, they won't necessarily put you in front of large numbers of your target client base.
- On that note, join communities frequented by your target market. For example, if you want to write Web marketing copy for online businesses, look for forums that cater to the webpreneur crowd. If you want to publish only in a specific niche, look into forums based on that niche.
- Join forums that allow you to include a signature (sig) link below your posts. Add a link to your professional site that details your services, and make it clear in your signature that you write on the subjects of interest to that audience.
- Don't spam. Do I really have to say more about that? If a forum has specific rules about who can advertise, where, and when, follow them.
- Post a lot - and don't only post to advertise or to respond to ads. The more active and helpful you are within the forum itself, the more likely people will know who you are, care about what you can do or have to say, and the better your overall reputation will be. For example, I post a lot about using press releases effectively, because my primary market is people wanting professional press releases written. I get a lot of clients willing to pay my rates (which can be more than four times as much as some writers on the same forum), because they can see from my informational posts that I really know what I'm talking about. Demonstrating knowledge in your subject matter or type of writing specialty builds trust amongst potential clients. I easily get more gigs this way than from posting ads or replying to them.
It all seems like common sense, but every day I see hoards of newer freelance writers going about it the wrong way, subjecting themselves either to fewer gigs than they could otherwise get or to lower pay than they could otherwise earn for the same work.