Friday, August 10, 2012

Gallant Giveaways

As a freelance writer, promotion can come in variety of forms. Sometimes traditional advertising works, depending on what sort of writing you’re doing. But often, you’ll need to think creatively about promoting yourself and your work.

First, think about your specific qualities as a writer. What would best project your image in some silent, ever-present reminder to your readers or clients? The obvious answer is some form of writing—a visual example of your work, but with a twist.

Make a list of places where you can place an example of your work—Web sites, blogs, newsletters, etc. Do a search for Web sites that deal with the type of subject matter you write about. Check them out individually and see if they accept articles on their sites. Pick a half dozen and either prepare short, 500-words-or-less articles on topics that would appeal to them or customize and update pieces you’ve written previously. Send your sample articles off to the webmasters of the sites you’ve chosen. Do this for each separate subject area you write about. You may not see instant results, but eventually you’ll notice Email messages from people looking to know more about you and your subject. You may be asked to write for other sites or give permission to use one of the pieces you’ve already posted.

In today’s world of social media, you should have no problem getting some attention from your sample promotional pieces. People will tweet about them on Twitter, post links to them on Facebook, and in general talk about them. But most of all, you’ll have gotten the word out about you and your work. Remember to include a short bio with your pieces with links to your Web site and Facebook fan page. This is how you get people to notice you.

A second easy way to promote yourself and your writing is by writing something special to include with your holiday greeting. While many people have stopped sending Christmas cards as such, there are lots of other ways to get a greeting out there. For instance, you can prepare an ecard. Write a holiday article or story and find or create an illustration for it. Put the illustration and the story in the body of an Email or lay it out in your word processing program and save it as a PDF file. Just about everyone can open a PDF file. And those with ebook readers can read your story on them. If your story or article is memorable, you’ll be surprised how many people will send an Email to let you know that they’ve shared it with their family and friends. You can send the same story or an even more professional version to your editors for both periodicals and books. You’ll be amazed what a little viral marketing can do.

Along the same lines, check out blogs that may invite you to be a guest blogger. Like Facebook, not only will all your followers read it, but so will all the followers of the person for whom you’re guest blogging. To begin, check with fellow writers and see if you can exchange blogs with any of them. Not matter how you do it, the results will benefit you.

Of course, if you do more corporate writing, you may want to consider small gifts from time to time, but especially during the holidays. What would you like to be representative of your work through the year—a desk calendar, a bookmark, a pen with your name on it? You can have your contact information imprinted on a variety of objects, from pens to penlights. It pays to be creative here. Choose an object that stands out from the crowd. One writer/photographer saw an ad in a national coin magazine—a reproduction of a Viking ship on an old coin. He had some of these inexpensive but handsome items attached to a paperweight with his name and phone number on it and sent them to his favorite editors.

A travel writer knew a craftsman who could inexpensively reproduce various items from her world travels into almost anything. From time to time she commissions felt bookmarks, picture frames, desk boxes, etc., and sees that the editors and publishers she knows get a unique reminder of her work each year. If you’re going to go this route, make sure your gifts are well made and not tacky. A shoddy gift will hurt you more than help you. Try to give gifts that are useful as well as tasteful, so the person receiving it will see your name frequently.

Just as there are ideas all around for articles and books, there are obviously all manner of ideas for publicity about your freelancing business. Watch for them everywhere. Allocate some of your time to develop them in your special way. Make notes on possible angles, amusing tactics, or catchy jingles and slogans. You can interpret many of these ideas, so they won't require expensive chunks of your budget.

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