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Freelancers are an innovative lot. However, almost daily I receive inquiries from those who find it hard to make a sustainable living. I attribute most of this to their inability to think outside the box.
There are so many ways to make money as a freelance writer that I keep a tickler file of ideas. Although I rarely find myself without a project on my desk, when assignments become scarce, I rifle through this file to tickle the brain cells.
Following are 10 ways for a freelance writer to make money – fast!
1. Sell to Professionals: What I mean by this is, target realtors, insurance agents, mortgage brokers, etc. with your writing skills.
A personal story: When I was a loan officer, I created a newsletter to send to prospects. Another loan officer in my office saw my newsletter and asked me how I did it. (I used Constant Contact software to set it up (ConstantContact.com)). I walked him through the steps and he started one.
When the owner of the company saw it, he asked me to write a weekly newsletter for the firm.
As this example illustrates, business professionals need a way to convert prospects into customers. A weekly newsletter was just the thing in this case. If you have 15 or 20 companies paying you to do a weekly, monthly or quarterly newsletter – and charge enough for it – this may be all the income you will ever need.
So, target professionals like these and offer to write a weekly column, newsletter, e-zine, etc. and watch your business grow.
2. Edit websites: This may require a bit of up front work, but can bring in dollars for years to come. There are so many sites in sore need of good copy, that all you have to do is turn on your computer to locate one. HOWEVER, the key is to target those who are willing to pay for your services. Once more, a personal story.
A friend of mine knows a chemist who created a skin care product. The product is sold nationwide through independent distributors. My friend told me to check out the website to see if it was a product I’d be interested in trying.
Once I logged on to the site, I immediately forgot about why I was supposed to be looking at the site. Why? The grammar, graphics and layout were horrible; especially the grammar! I rewrote the home page and sent it to the webmaster with a nice note saying that I’d be happy to redo the entire site for $X. Within a few days we came to terms and I got the job. You can do this too.
Again, professionals are a great target market for freelance writers. Mortgage brokers, insurance agents, lawn care providers, etc. Most have websites – and many of them are not too good. So, edit/rewrite a page and send it to them with a proposal to do the whole site. Usually, if they use you once, they will continue to do so for years to come.
BONUS TIP: Offer to add weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. articles to the site to increase traffic. Many small business owners are so busy that they don’t think or know how to do this type of marketing. Point out the advantages and watch your client list grow.
3. Create an e-book: Okay, you’re thinking – everybody and his mother is doing this these days. BUT, why? Because it works. If you are knowledgeable about a particular topic, eg, how to stain a deck, pressure wash a house, quit smoking, make doll clothes – whatever it is, write a book about it.
Writing e-books is easy – it can be done in as little as 24 hours – and offer it for sale on a site like ClickBank.
REMEMBER, most people look to the Internet for information. And, “how to” information is one of the most popular forms. So, rack your brain for what you like to do, write an e-book about it and sell it via a major distributor like ClickBank.
One book probably won’t make you rich, but it could bring in extra cash for years to come. The best part about this idea, once you create one e-book, you can create others and really build your income to the point where you can quit your dreaded day job.
4. Set up a CafePress Shop: This online marketer (CafePress.com) lets you create t-shirts, mugs, stickers, etc. and sell them without carrying any merchandise. There are no minimums, nothing for you to stock and no upfront fees. If you don’t sell anything, you don’t pay anything.
So, how can a freelancer capitalize on this medium? Quite simply, if you are mighty with the pen, then dollars can follow. Create cool slogans and witticisms and emblazon them on t-shirts, stickers, mugs, etc.You could be the creator of the next big fad T.
Remember the slogan, “Sh*t Happens?” I think this phrase was made popular in the hippie 70s. Can you even begin to guess how many bumper stickers and t-shirts were sold with this phrase? So, rack your brain and create some phenomenal pop culture!
5. Create a “Newspaper” and Sell Ads: This is a bit more ambitious, but once implemented, can really draw you a whole goo-gaggle of customers! Here as well, I would target a professional market.
An example: In my city, there is a very prominent real estate agent. In all my years in and around this profession, I had never seen this particular mode of advertising by an agent. He created a “newspaper” about his geographic area. It’s only 5 or 6 pages (11×17) and printed on newspaper stock.
It has all of the local activities, Chamber of Commerce functions, what’s being built, how it will affect the community, etc. Of course, the paper is slanted toward real estate news, but has just enough of the other factors to attract a loyal resident readership.
In this paper, he sells ads to mortgage brokers, moving companies, title and loan companies, car dealerships, etc. If I’m remembering correctly, he’s been putting it out for 9 years. Now, when people go to sell their homes, who do you think they’re going to call? Him, of course! Because his name is in front of them bringing them news pertinent to their daily lives week in and week out.
How can you capitalize on this idea? Create a mockup, target five or six different professional groups (eg, the insurance agent, the mortgage broker, etc.) and offer to do something similar for their business.
Make them realize the value of being in front of customers in their geographic area week in and week out, eg, The XYZ Bulletin is proudly brought to you by the following area sponsors:
I would start with no less than a thousand copies – these can be printed very reasonably at your local Kinko’s or neighborhood print shop. Also, make sure that it is a very tight geographic area. Remember, most business owners realize the value of focus, focus, focus.
MARKETING TIP: Target those companies who’ve grown beyond the one-man shop with this idea. Eg, an insurance company with an owner, 2 agents and a full- or part-time receptionist. Why? Because they are the ones who can most likely afford to implement this plan.
As you can see, there are a myriad of ways to make money as a freelance writer. It is only limited by YOUR imagination.
Part II coming soon!
write by Dermot