Link Building Tactics for Freelance Writers

Normally I don't talk about my clients directly on my blogs, but today is an exception. One of my clients (the owner of made a special link building offer to writers and bloggers, and I'd like to share that with you today. But first, let's talk about link building in general, why it's important for freelance writers, and how you can build quality links to your blog or freelance writing portfolio.

As you've read here countless times before, the best freelance writing gigs are rarely publicly advertised. Most buyers offering high-paying freelance writing jobs get their writers from their networks and referrals or they search for a writer to find someone who meets their needs. That's why having a professional website is so important.

It's equally important that your freelance writing site and portfolio show up in the search results when potential clients are searching for a writer like you. But search engine optimization (SEO) isn't about keyword-stuffing your pages. It's about solid content and incoming links (backlinks). The more incoming links you have to your website (using the anchor text people are searching for -- like "Web content writer"), the better your site will rank in search engine results and the more likely it is that you'll get the attention of clients searching for writers in your specialty area.

While great content is the best link building tactic around (we'll talk more about that later), you can also build relevant and quality links in other ways. It's probably not a good idea, especially when your site or blog is new, to just sit back and hope the links come quickly. They'll come. And later on your content will do most of your link building work for you. It just won't happen immediately, and there's nothing wrong with being a bit aggressive in link building when you launch your site.

Here are some link building ideas you can use if you're trying to build relevant backlinks to your freelance writing site:

  1. Link out to others. -- When you blog, occasionally link out to others in the niche (as additional resources, to cite an article you're commenting on, etc.). Many blogs give you a trackback link automatically. On top of that, those bloggers can see who links to them, so a link out might bring your blog to their attention and they might decide to link to you in the future in a post of their own.
  2. Comment on other blogs. -- Many bloggers let you include a link to your own site when you comment on their posts. Some will directly pass "link juice" because they're do-follow links, but others use the no-follow attribute. Even no-follow links have value though -- most importantly they let readers of the related blog visit your site easily (they could link to your in their own articles, become regular readers, etc.). They key is to post comments that add value to the conversation.
  3. Use article marketing. -- Traditional article marketing certainly isn't my favorite way to build links, but when you're starting out it can be particularly effective. Basically, you publish an article and you get a link back in the resource box / credit area below. I'm not a fan of the spammy nature of article directories, so I no longer use them personally, but I do advocate more of an advanced article marketing style including guest posts on relevant sites and blogs.
  4. Submit your site to directories. -- There are a lot of spammy free Web directories out there, and I don't support the idea of submitting your site to them. They don't add much value. Don't discount Web directories as a whole though. They're an easy resource to use when you're building links if you use them effectively. That means working with directories that bring in real traffic rather than only other site owners submitting their links (directories like online Yellow Pages,, or even my client offering a deal below -- The Directory Journal). These sites bring in visitors either through reputation or content in most cases. You can also target niche directories that are highly relevant to your site (like a magazine submitting their site to a directory of writer's markets).
  5. Create link-worthy content. -- As I mentioned earlier, the best thing you can do is create link-worthy content (sometimes called "linkbait" -- and no, linkbait is not a bad thing as long as it's done right). The concept is pretty simple. You create great content. Other people will like that content and want to share it with others. They link to it from their own sites, social media sites, etc. Your content brings in links without you having to spend any additional time on link building directly, and that frees you up to focus more on your other content, billable hours, or other marketing work for your freelance writing business.
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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4 thoughts on “Link Building Tactics for Freelance Writers”

  1. JM, that’s very cool and a very kind offer–thank you! And thank you to your client.

    While we’re on the topic of where FLers can submit links, I found this recently: 20 essential blog directories to submit your blog to. YMMV, but I have gotten some traffic out of a few of them.

    Might be worth a try to get the Search Engine Journal author to write something about DirJournal…

  2. Thanks for the link Jake. I’m sure SEJ is aware of DirJournal — they’re a pretty well-known directory in that market. Since the offer was specifically directed for me to promote to writers, I’m not comfortable going that far outside of the niche when I know he makes other offers. I am promoting this post and offer in a community I moderate though where I network with both writers and clients, so it should be getting the word out fairly well.

  3. I think that in 2010 goes on, the way of on-page and off-page search engine optimization are going to change as we think it. I think we will see a transformation to client factors in determining SERP results. That included with increased personalized SERP results and we’ll be seeing a huge change of the searchers experience with Bing and the other SEs. Every search result will not be made alike, take a look at things like user involvement, bounce time, bounce rate, etc… Focus on a better website all around, and I think you’ll see better results in 2010.


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