Marketing 101 for the beginner freelance writer

If you’re aspiring to be a freelance copywriter or content writer, it’s pretty much essential to have a strong understanding of marketing in general. You should know how your writing fits into the bigger picture, right?

But when you’re just getting started, this can be extremely overwhelming.

I totally get it. Marketing can feel like some kind of mysterious potion that has so many different parts and you’re stuck in the corner of the room scratching your head at what this potion is really made up of.

Luckily, I’ve got some ingredients that will hopefully make you a little more excited about how your writing will play a role in marketing. Not to mention—as a freelance writer, you’re also a business owner, which means you should understand marketing anyway to properly market yourself!

Let’s get into it.

Just like with any good recipe, there are many ways to substitute ingredients or remove ingredients entirely that don’t appeal to your palette. 

For example, you’ve had a TON of different types of cookies, right? (I really hope so). Each cookie was different due to different ingredients, yet each hopefully achieved their goal: be delicious. The same goes for marketing. Each business’ marketing can have different marketing components, yet still work together to achieve the business’ goals.

Here is a sample marketing recipe that can be helpful for startups and small businesses (and many other types of businesses):

One website

A website is your business’ home on the internet. It can’t be a social media account because you don’t own that social media platform—the platform owns and controls everything, like your followers, your profile format, the algorithm…literally everything. With a website, you own the platform, you control the content, and nobody will come and shut down your website and leave you with nothing (like what happened with Vine…ouch).

A website is the ideal place to display what the business is, what the business does, who the business helps, and how the business can help the target audience. This is one ingredient that I’d say is required.

As a freelance writer, you may be asked to write the following for someone’s website:

  • Web copy for each page (the text that appears on each page of the website)
  • Product descriptions
  • Titles
  • Headlines
  • Call to actions
  • Blog posts
  • News articles

A social media presence

Now, how will people know about the website? It’s like moving into a new house, but nobody knows where you live. Social media can be used to direct people to a website and encourage people to learn more about the business.

I always suggest starting with at least one social media platform to find momentum and establish a strong publishing schedule and engagement strategy. It’s way better than trying to manage a dozen different social media platforms because we all know there are a ton out there. But that can get complicated at first because each operates a little differently. What works for one won’t necessarily work for the other. So it’s sometimes better to start slow and begin with one or two to get your bearings straight.

As a freelance writer, you may be asked to write social media posts and possibly be in charge of content creation (coming up with the content yourself instead of someone telling you the topic for each post). This is something you’d have to talk more detail for with your client/prospect.

A heap of organic content

Organic isn’t just for how you grow your vegetables, it’s for content, too! This is content you create and post on social media or share with your audience without you having to pay for it (like you would pay for ads.) This includes:

  • Social media posts
  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Imagery

Think of this content as pieces you would create to entertain, educate, or inspire the audience so they are enticed to either contact your client or visit the website to learn more about how your client can help solve their challenges.

Along with enticing the audience to take action, the purpose of organic content is to get your client’s name out there, have people become familiar with what they do, offer value, prove their expertise, and prove how they can help their target audience without anyone having to pay a dime to consume the content. 

One email list

An email list is a wonderful way to collect all of your client’s most loyal prospects in one place and send them exclusive content on a regular basis. This could be a short, meaningful message every week, it could be a reminder that you just published a blog post, it could be a special offer just for them, a video created just for them, or anything else. 

You want email subscribers to feel special and keep them interested in what the business is up to. By receiving constant valuable content from your client, they may be more inclined to make a purchase or spread the word about the business to someone else (or both!). 

Having an email list will also save your client if a social media platform they’re on does actually shut down or the algorithm changes or whatever else the social media gods decide to do (sometimes they have no mercy). If you ever lose social media followers for whatever reason or a platform just isn’t serving your client any more and you have to start from scratch somewhere else, you will always have their email list that they own

As a freelance writer, you may be in charge of writing the:

  • Body of the emails
  • Subject lines
  • Call to actions within the emails

Some clients may also want you to build the emails within their system, so you’ll have to talk with them about that further and decide if that’s something you’re either comfortable doing or are interested in doing (and how much extra to charge!).

A dash of paid ads

Paid advertising is something your client might benefit from if they’re running a promotion or trying to spread the word quickly about a new product or service. Paid ads can come in a few different forms:

  • Social media ads: These ads look like social posts within your newsfeeds.
  • Search ads: These ads will appear in search engines like Google where your client’s business would pop up as a top result in search results.
  • Banner ads: These ads are usually square or rectangular banners that will appear on the side of websites, within the page of a website, or within a page of an app. 

Depending on your client’s goal for the ad, their budget, and the type of business they run, it will determine which ad is best for them.

I also say a “dash” of paid ads because I believe that organic content can get you very far in the long term. This is what truly builds rapport with the audience and is a constant value-add for a business. Although they can be effective, paid ads aren’t ways to grow a relationship with your client’s audience for the long term, they are used to get the word out quickly about something specific for their business.

Digital products to taste

If your client is interested in a little passive income (money made by creating something once and people can purchase it without anyone’s constant involvement), digital products can make that possible. These can come in many forms as well such as:

You would have them set up on your client’s website with whatever software makes most sense for the particular product, and people can purchase and download the digital product on their own time.

Some companies also offer these products for free, and that’s cool, too.

As a freelancer, you may be asked to create an outline, possibly interview SMEs (subject matter experts) depending on the topic, write a draft, complete revisions, and anything else involved in the writing process.

One marketing strategy

Just like you can’t make apple pie without the apples, you can’t do marketing without a marketing strategy. Maybe you could, but your marketing will just feel…bland. Just like flour has a purpose in cake, sugar has a purpose in ice cream, and coffee has a purpose in good ol’ tiramisu, you need to make sure that the marketing components make sense for the overall marketing plan. Everything needs a purpose.

One marketing theory I practice is to always give away my best stuff for free and always offer the most value I can with everything I share with my audience. My paid offerings are always packaged in a way where the customer is guided through a transformation with the content I make for them. This all informs my marketing strategy.

The most important thing about strategy is how everything works together to reach your main marketing goal(s). For example, you could ask your client:

  • Do you want to book more appointments? 
  • Do you want direct sales? 
  • Do you want more phone calls? 
  • Do you want more people walking through the doors of your brick and mortar business? 
  • Do you just want people to know you exist? (Increase your brand awareness)

Decide what your client wants from their target audience and then decide what the best marketing recipe is to make that happen. 

As a freelancer, you can also decide whether you want to be involved in marketing strategy/consulting. You may want to work for someone who already has an established marketing strategy and you just produce written content for them, or you can take a consulting approach and work closely with them on different strategies and types of content you’d want to create. It’s all up to you as the business owner of your freelance practice what you want to offer your clients!

Now, you’re either hungry or motivated…or both. But hopefully the mysterious marketing potion doesn’t feel too intimidating anymore at least. I’ve been sipping on it for almost a decade and I’ve got to tell you, it’s pretty tasty.

If it feels like you haven’t quite acquired the taste for it yet or it’s just not making sense, let’s chat! Let me know you’d like to schedule a half hour free coaching session here

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