Advertising your writing services on writing forums may seem like a natural marketing activity to bring in freelance writing clients, but it probably won't be the most effective way to harness forum postings to bring in gigs. Here's why:
- A forum for writers to network won't necessarily be overflowing with clients looking to hire within your niche.
- A writing forum is going to very likely be filled with your direct competition, meaning if a gig does get posted, there's less of a chance of getting it.
So let's leave writers' forums for networking, and focus our forum marketing efforts elsewhere. What kinds of forums should you target?
- Forums in your general niche (if you're a business writer to to business forums, if you're an SEO writer go to webmaster forums, etc.).
- Forums where you'll likely find a lot of potential clients (whether they know they have a need or not), and not a ton of writer competition.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that "forum marketing" means visiting forums to posts ads for your services. It doesn't. If you want to get the most out of forums, you need to spend your time contributing useful free information to the community, which demonstrates your expertise and passion for your niche or industry. For example, I specialize in online PR and write a lot of press releases for online entrepreneurs. I visit business and webmaster forums contributing to conversations on press releases, marketing, and promotion.
The idea is to catch the eye of potential clients while demonstrating that someone with professional insight is not just a luxury but a necessity. You don't want them hiring generic writers in your specialty. You don't want them all to write their own content. You want them to hire you.
Contribute, show people that you really know your stuff, and take advantage of the forum signature area below each post (in most forums) where you can add a link to your portfolio, business website, or blog. Drive potential clients from your forum posts directly to a place where they can view your work and hire you.
A side benefit of effective forum marketing is that you have some built in word-of-mouth potential. It's easy for a client found in one to post a simple referral for you when someone else is asking about similar service providers, and the referral can be seen by a lot of people as opposed to recommendations spread in a more personal way.