Editor note: Want to listen to this post in audio format? Jenn Mattern covers this topic on her All Indie Writers podcast. Otherwise, just skip below to start reading.
It’s common to see the term “writer platform” tossed about. It’s often tied to authors. But writer platforms can be vital for freelance writers too.
What is your freelance writer platform? Do you really need one? Won’t it be difficult to build a writer platform if you’re new?
Let’s explore freelance writer platforms, why you should build one, and how you can get started today.
What is a Freelance Writer Platform?
Picture a stage. Now picture an audience in front of that stage. It’s an audience full of fans who came to see you.
Now imagine yourself standing on that stage, communicating with those fans.
That stage would be your platform. It’s what lets you reach your audience or fans. It helps you convey your authority status. It helps you build trust. And it puts you in a position to influence the people you most want to reach. In this case that means getting them to hire you or spread the word about your services.
As a freelance writer, you won’t often have a literal stage. But you might have:
- a professional website;
- a blog with regular readers;
- a list of email subscribers;
- access to others’ virtual “stages” (as a freelancer or guest contributor);
- speaking engagements;
- regular teaching opportunities;
- published books;
- a strong social media following.
Those can all be part of your freelance writer platform.
Think of it this way. Your freelance writer platform is where your fan base gathers. It’s about your visibility and reputation. It’s your audience of ready and willing buyers, subscribers, or readers. It includes all the tools and tactics that help you reach that audience and build your visibility.
Why Should You Build a Writer Platform?
While there is no single “right” way to market your freelance writing services, every freelance writer would benefit from having a strong platform. Personally, this is what I rely on most in what I refer to as “query free freelancing.” That focuses on your platform and your network (for referrals). Why? Because it means you can spend less time seeking new clients and instead help them find you.
You can take this approach on its own, or you can combine it with direct pitching if you prefer. Here are some reasons you should give it a try:
Higher Paying Freelance Writing Gigs
You often attract higher paying clients when they come to you because of your authority status or influence. These are people who already know they want to work with you by the time they contact you. They generally don’t try to haggle over rates, at least if your rates were clear on your website. Clients willing to pay top dollar want to know they’re working with a respected pro. And a strong freelance writer platform helps convey that.
When you have something new to offer (or a client spot opens up), you’ll have an existing audience and ready and willing buyers. With a strong platform, you can fill spots quickly or build interest in your newest services.
More Opportunities Than You Can Handle
Over time you’ll see more prospects coming to you than you can take on. That means you can be choosey about who you work with. Plus, it puts you in a position to raise your rates naturally, and often quickly. I’ve seen writers get to that point in as little as a couple of weeks. And I’ve seen colleagues take less than three months to have more prospects coming in than they can handle.
More Income Streams
You can use your writer platform to diversify your income streams. For example, even if all members of your audience can’t hire you due to budget constraints or your limited schedule, you can sell them guides, kits, books, courses, or webinars to supplement your service income.
More Money (Directly From Your Platform)
You can even directly monetize some of your platform-building tools and tactics. You can’t, for example, directly monetize each query letter you send out. Either it helps you land a gig or it doesn’t. On the other hand, a seminar can be monetized whether or not it lands you fresh gigs. A blog can be monetized while it works for you as a marketing and PR tool. Your books and e-books can be monetized as they help you build your authority status.
Your freelance writer platform isn’t a one-and-done marketing tactic. It’s the culmination of all the little things you do to build your reputation, visibility, and audience. And it’s something that will work hard for you for years to come.
Tips for Building Your Freelance Writer Platform
Building a professional freelance writer platform is mostly about good, old fashioned public relations:
- You build and speak with a target audience.
- You publish authoritative content and serve as an expert source in your niche or industry.
- You offer something worth being promoted via word-of-mouth.
- You build and maintain your professional reputation.
- You build your visibility within your specialty area.
Today we sometimes slap newer labels like “inbound marketing” or “content marketing” on some of these things. But that doesn’t change anything. The fundamentals of building a professional platform have been the same for ages. What changes over time are the tools available to you.
If you’re just getting started as a freelance writer, here are some tools and tactics you can use right now to start building your own freelance writer platform to attract well-qualified clients:
- Launch a blog targeting clients in your specialty area. A blog is a great way to build search engine visibility and a regular readership.
- Set up a virtual publicity tour (such as a blog tour). This is where you publish guest posts, get interviewed, or have something reviewed on a series of authoritative sites over a short period of time. Let others’ platforms help you build your own.
- Submit op-eds or letters to the editor to newspapers and magazines your target clients are likely to read.
- Release white papers or reports tied to the industries or niches you specialize in. Tie them to your freelance writing services.
- Come up with a list of other freebies you can give away. These might include templates, worksheets, e-books, or anything else that might entice prospects to hire you, sign up for your email list, or spread the word about you. Make sure all freebies include a call to action.
If you’ve already started building your freelance writer platform, what have you done so far? What would you still like to try? If you’re a brand new freelance writer with no platform to speak of, what tools and tactics are you most likely to start with? Share your tips and stories, or ask questions about building a freelance writer platform of your own, in the comments below.