by Krissi Driver | Mar 21, 2022 | Freelance Writing, Getting Started |
You may have tried googling “freelance writer jobs” and gotten a lot of mixed results. The moniker “freelance writer” is anything but constrictive and there are so many things freelance writers can do and services we can offer. There’s a fit for every fancy.
I often get asked how to create writing samples and what kind of work is “best” to take on. It got me thinking… Man, I wish I'd had a better understanding of what kind of stuff I could write for my portfolio when I started writing. So, I made a list.
Below, you’ll find an incomplete list of 22 (yes, TWENTY-TWO) freelance writer jobs and a short explanation for each. I’m willing to bet a few pique your interest.
Newspaper, Magazine, and other “Professional” Articles and Essays
This is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll explain anyway.
Both online and print media outlets are always looking for “outside” voices to tell stories, write journalistic reports, and share opinions. There are tons of calls for pitches on Twitter from editors of every newspaper, magazine and other online media outlet imaginable. Seriously.
The key to landing these types of gigs is to do your research, find the right editor name and email address, and to follow their pitch guidelines (if you can find them, and you probably can) to the letter.
If you don’t follow the publication’s explicit instructions about how to pitch, you won’t be given the time of day. It’s also important to remember that these places get potentially hundreds of pitches every day, too, so you’re just one in a very large sea of many.
Politely follow up and don’t get discouraged if you hear a “no” or don’t get a response at all. Keep at it and eventually, you might find the right person at the right time with the right story or angle.
The best part of these things is that while they don’t generally pay a ton, they have your name on them and you get to fly around the internet tooting your “I’m published in X, Y, and Z” horn.
I wholeheartedly believe that every business needs a blog. This is so important to me that I talk about it all the time. If you like writing long-form, researched, informative content, this is definitely a writing form that should be up your alley.
Landing a client that is interested in having consistent blog content is a big bingo because this often means you have a promise of consistent work for at least a few weeks or months. This saves you the trouble of having to constantly be on the prowl to find new gigs and income.
Blog articles should be a minimum of 500 words (but they can be as long as 2,000 or more) and ideally need to include links to other pages on your client’s website as well as to other reputable outside sources. This is to help them look fair and informed while boosting their long-term search engine optimization efforts.
Email and Print Newsletters
Like blog articles, securing a client who wants you to write newsletters can also be extremely lucrative. I’ve become Instagram friends with a woman who exclusively specializes email newsletters and she’s totally killing it. (Check Lib out. She’s cool.)
Newsletter marketing is an ongoing thing and companies are always in need of someone to help create a strategy and write the copy. You could also learn how to plan and set up email automations – prewritten and scheduled email sequences that are triggered when a subscriber signs up, clicks certain links, or takes a specific action.
In fact, knowing a bit about automations and how to effectively craft them is another service businesses will gladly pay for. If you enjoy strategizing about content delivery, you can up your game by offering email marketing and automation services. This is a great ongoing freelance writer job.
Sales and Marketing Materials
This could take many different forms. You might find you enjoy creating things, like ebooks or journals or quizzes or surveys or coupon vouchers or a whole slew of other things. These materials are used by companies to market themselves every single day.
These things are often called “lead magnets” in the online world. In the print world, sales and marketing materials are literally anything used for sales and marketing. Once again, it’s not a surprise what this means.
From the actual creation of the thing – digital or physical – to the writing that goes along with it, somebody’s got to do that. It could be you. If you’re comfortable using design software like Canva* or if you’ve got a background in more robust systems like Adobe, you could offer a double-whammy to interested clients and handle both the designing and copywriting for their project.
Whitepapers are essentially long-form (think more than 2,000 words) content pieces used by companies to promote specific products or services they offer. (Nonprofits may also use whitepapers.) These are rarely written to entice consumers to buy, but rather for marketing to other businesses.
Want to look over a few whitepaper examples? This blog article highlights a few good ones from big companies like Cisco.
Case studies are, in a way, similar to whitepapers as they serve a specific marketing purpose: They’re basically long-form testimonials for a company. Rather than writing a quick recommendation, case studies focus on specific pain points a customer or client had and how a business helped them solve their issue.
These require interviewing customers about their experience. (Your client may ask you to interview their customer or they may provide you with a recorded interview they conducted.) Your job is to turn it into an interesting cast study article or piece of content depending on your client’s preferences.
While pictures may say 1,00 words, we all still look at product descriptions before we buy things. Someone has to write them!
Product descriptions don’t tend to be high-earners simply based on their length, but if you find a client who has many products and needs descriptions for all of them, that gig could be very lucrative. That said, stores and shops are always adding to their inventory. If you can develop strong relationships with your clients, you’ll be more likely to get repeat business from them.
To pad your product description portfolio, see if you can get some statistics back from your clients. Things like conversion rate (a percentage of how many people visit the product page and ultimately purchase – you want this to be high) and bounce rate (how many people visit the page without taking any action – you want this to be lower) can help you make a case for your copywriting chops.
Media (or press) kits are what businesses use to pitch themselves to press and media outlets. They include company bios, statistics about the person’s or brand’s audience, and a number of different elements that might include notes of their previous partnerships or publication records.
These kits can be used in a couple of ways, too. Some brands use their media kits to pitch themselves as expert speakers or writers. Others may use their kits to court advertisers to buy ad space from their publications.
Depending on the brand or person, the media kit might be short and sweet (check out Jessica Stansberry’s very simple press kit). It might be a very-well decorated press kit like Susue Moore’s. Or it might be an extremely in-depth kit covering advertising pricing, audience demographics, and more, like Oprah Daily, the website covering all press kit materials for Oprah Winfrey’s media empire, or Mel Robbin’s, an internationally-known self-development author and speaker.
These media kits take time to build out and plan. Once again, if you can offer design services, you’ve got one more leg up on other copywriters offering this service. But don’t fret – if you’re not comfortable designing, your services are still in high demand.
Every website you’ve ever visited and read through was written by someone. It might have been a company staffer or it might have been a freelancer. Either way, every single page on the internet with writing had to be (obviously) written by someone.
You could specialize in specific types of website copy, such as “about pages” or any other common page. Or you might specialize in a specific niche and provide copy for company websites in that industry.
One of the best ways to go about this is to ask your clients to present you with an outline of what sections are most likely to be on their website. If they’re working with a web designer, ask for the “wireframe.” If they’re designing the site themselves, ask to see the “dummy” site so you know how things will look, how long your copy sections should approximately be, and where you might need to add little blurbs throughout the pages.
Once again, someone had to write the manual for your Texas Instrument calculator in high school and that new blender you just bought last week.
This may sound especially “technical” but it’s not. Any item that requires a how-to manual or written instructions has a “technical manual.”
This type of writing is generally referred to as “technical writing” and its main goal is to uncomplicate the complicated. It’s very dry language with little or no flourish. Perhaps most surprisingly, this is probably one of the easiest types of writing to break into because it doesn’t often require the writer to match a particular “brand voice.”
Books and Ebooks
Ebooks can be shorter and serve as marketing materials, like lead magnets. (For an example, check out my ebook, 7 Steps to Start a Profitable Freelance Writing Business.) Alternatively, they could be just as long as a printed book, like Kindle ebooks.
Either way, people want to write books but don’t consider themselves “good writers” or want to invest the time it takes to write a book. You could be a book or ebook ghostwriter and make literally thousands of dollars helping others publish their ideas. You may even be able to find postings for these freelance writer jobs on certain job boards. Google “book freelance writer” or “ebook freelance writer” or “ghostwriter.”
Advertising copy is one of the most common things freelancers write, especially if it’s for a special project or sale. It’s akin to copywriting and someetimes these two terms are used interchangeably (though “ad copy” is more specific than just “copywriting”).
This could be something long, like the written content in physical mailers (also called direct mail), or something short and snappy like you often see in sale flyers. If you manage to get feedback from your clients about conversion rates, you can use that to your advantage.
Large companies likely have small teams of people (or just one person) dedicated to running their social media channels (generally called “social media managers”) but smaller companies may not.
Whether they’ve got help creating their images (you could do that as a freelancer, too!), managing posts and engaging with followers, or they just need someone to write the captions, this is a super lucrative freelancing opportunity.
Like with ad copy, if you can track numbers and have something tangible to show for your efforts, you can use that information to gain more clients and raise your rate.
Not everyone wants to hire a PR firm to help them make a splash in the media. Press releases are actually pretty easy to write and the same formula works for nearly every industry. Check out this template from Hubspot to see if this kind of writing is a good fit for you and what you or your client can do to get them in front of a wider audience.
We all know that presidents and other world leaders often don’t write their own speeches (at least not all of them), but that they have a team doing it for them. And they’re not alone!
Plenty of people struggle to write their thoughts clearly or have such stage fright that they need help writing a public speaking script. If you have experience in public speaking or a particular industry, you could easily niche down. Alternatively, your client should provide you with particular talking points so you can craft a thoughtful presentation.
Video has become a dominant force in how we consume media and most of it is scripted in some way. From newsrooms to YouTube videos to advertisements, someone has to make those plans and write those words.
Businesses hoping to make videos for their business on the platform or for their own websites likely don’t have someone on their staff specializing in script writing. Likewise, companies making promotional videos may need help writing scripts for their brands.
If you’ve got any background in video (or radio!) production or scripting, you’d be a natural freelance script writer.
Researchers will often seek help to get their results and findings compiled into written form. These papers may be published in professional or academic journals, among other places.
You likely will need to demonstrate specific previous experience to get hired for these gigs. Depending on your level of expertise in a certain area of study and the budget of the organization that hires you, this could be a big money maker.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Content
There will never be a shortage of people who need to have an understanding of search enging optimization (SEO).
SEO is the “science” behind how brands get found online through search results. There’s a lot that goes into it, from optimizing website pages to checking keywords to writing keyword-based articles and beyond. If this is of interest to you, specializing in SEO will help you stand out from other “generalist” freelancers – bar none. There will never be a shortage of SEO-centric freelance writer jobs (including at companies. This isn't a freelancer-only thing!).
Grants are essentially like scholarships for organizations: money offered by government and aid groups to help fund research and other activities that will benefit the public.
Organizations of all kinds apply for grants and often don’t have anyone on staff whose sole responsibility is completing grant applications to secure funding for their organization. These applications require very special elements and take time to learn.
If you have experience writing grants for a previous employer or nonprofit, you can do it for other groups, too. Even if you don’t have experience, this is a great content-type niche to choose and learn.
As a freelancer, you probably won’t have much need for a resume anymore. (This is one of the many perks of being a freelancer!) But everyone else still does.
People are always looking for help with their resumes. Once again, if you can keep track of your clients’ positive hiring record, you can charge more for your assistance.
Did you know there are people who manage other businesses’ Pinterest accounts for a living? There are!
From creating the images for Pinterest (which you would be wise to offer as part of your service) to writing the captions and scheduling the pins, this is a great way to make money. You’ll need to provide some kind of report each month to show what your work has accomplished for your client, but these don’t need to be fancy.
SIDE NOTE: I spent 6 months in 2021 paying a Pinterest freelancer a whopping $700 a month to manage my Pinterest account. Imagine if you had a few clients paying that much on the regular. You’d be making great money!
Podcast and YouTube Show Notes
Podcasters and YouTubers make the videos and record the audios, but they often aren’t the ones to write their show notes (or edit their content!).
This could be a great opportunity for a long-standing partnership with a client and a great “in” for possible referrals – especially if your person does a lot of collaborations with other podcasters or YouTubers.
So there you have it – 22 different types of content and freelance writer jobs you can master and offer. It takes time to “get good” at any one of them, but the more practice you get, the better you'll be at creating killer content for your clients.
by Krissi Driver | Oct 11, 2021 | Freelance Writing, Getting Started |
Remote work jobs have taken on even more of an appeal in 2020 as many former full-time employees are making the shift to working from home or, better yet, working for themselves. Freelance writing jobs, in particular, are getting more attention from people now that the Great Resignation is at its height.
While there might be more competition out there today for remote work than there has been in years past, there are still plenty of freelance gigs out there for everyone. You just need to know where to look.
If you’re not having any luck checking the usual freelance writing job boards, don’t fret. Here are 6 unexpected places you can look to uncover your next client.
I know, I know… This seems like a total joke. But Craigslist isn’t just for finding good deals on used furniture – there are plenty of freelance writing and remote work jobs to discover there, too. Many potential clients turn to Craigslist to post their want ads, especially for one-off jobs that have a quick turnaround time.
The benefit of advertising on Craigslist for potential clients is that, unlike using an agency such as ClearVoice, they don’t have to pay any additional fees to find a writer. (That’s also a bonus for you! You get to keep all your pay and not share a cut with the agency.)
The key is to check the boards of all the major cities, not just the ones you live closest to. Clients often post jobs where they’ll find the biggest audience, but you don’t need to live in those places to apply to them as long as the listing is for remote work.
Beware the Red Flags
But like all things associated with Craigslist, it’s important to take every listing with a grain of salt. Watch out for red flags: There are definitely still scammers looking to take advantage of people – even in job listings.
Here are a few examples of red flags:
- Be leery of agreeing to submit any “test” pieces. Even if you’re okay with working for a very low wage (or for free) to build your portfolio, you can’t be sure your “test” work won’t be the “real” work and get published without you getting paid.
- Don’t pay the job lister anything! The whole point is the client should pay you at the end. You’re not paying on Craigslist to be added to some kind of database – there are plenty of legit databases where you do have to pay that are not lurking in random corners of Craigslist.
- Don’t give out your bank information – even once the work is done. Use a system that’s secure to accept payments, like PayPal or Stripe.
- Don’t start working without a contract or other legal written agreement. I cannot stress this enough – YOU NEED DOCUMENTATION TO PROTECT YOURSELF. If money is changing hands, you need a contract. If the client insists on using their own contract, read it through carefully and ask a trusted friend or mentor (or lawyer!) to have a look before signing anything. Be sure the terms are in your best interest.
If you get any weird vibes at all, walk away. It’s not worth your time or energy if someone isn’t willing to meet you halfway to protect yourself.
2. Facebook Groups
Facebook is an amazing resource for freelancers – not just for networking with other people in your industry but for finding gigs as well.
The key is to remember that this isn’t an overnight solution. It will be really obvious if you’re only joining a group to hunt for clients without genuinely connecting with other members.
Here’s how to make Facebook work for you: Join groups that are relevant to your industry and interests. Then you need to consistently participate in the discussions that are happening within the group. You’ll get your name out there by posting frequently in a meaningful way and answering questions. Other members will come to see you as a valuable resource in the community.
There will often be people looking for writing help in these groups and they may post job opportunities! Be sure to follow their application instructions in their post “to the letter” and comment that you’re planning to apply.
Look for groups that are geared towards freelancers, entrepreneurs, people in your industry or writing niche (for example, gardening groups if you primarily write about gardening), remote workers, working women, virtual assistants, etc. Add value wherever you can and keep your self-promotion to a minimum unless someone asks for it or it’s a “self-promo day.”
If you’ve been following me for any time at all, you know I am not a Twitter fan. Despite that, I have to admit it can be a decent place to find some interesting opportunities if you happen to be a freelance writer.
For example, editors of various publications use Twitter to call for pitches all the time. Follow the editors of websites you’d like to write for so you’ll be the first to know when a call goes out. You can also follow your favorite freelance writing job boards on Twitter to stay up-to-date with the newest job postings all day long.
Twitter is also a great place to learn from other freelancers who have been in the industry for a long time and are killing it. Being where your “people” are will help you grow as a writer, too.
Here’s a quick list of a few names and companies I follow on Twitter:
You don’t have to limit your job search to websites that specifically target freelancers. While most people use job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, or Monster to look for full-time, in-office work, plenty of clients (especially larger companies) advertise for freelancers there as well.
Most “traditional” job boards have an option to select “remote” as the preferred location for your job search, so all you need to do is search for keywords relating to the work you do, like “medical writer” or just “freelance writer” if you’re not sure which niche you’d like to target.
Consider looking on actual remote work job boards, too, like We Work Remotely or Escape the City. Some of these, like Dynamite Jobs, actually will allow you to choose which part of the world you’re in and will filter jobs based on your choice.
One of my recent favorites is actually Superpath – a job board created by content marketers for other content marketers. They also have an amazing Slack community where you can ask questions and get updated about the newest job postings on the website. It’s definitely worth checking out, no matter where you are in your freelance writing career.
Why check job boards every day when you can have new job opportunities delivered right to your inbox? There are plenty of newsletters out there that carefully curate legitimate, well-paid job postings for freelance writers and remote workers of all kinds. These newsletters do the research for you, so you can trust that the clients are reputable and the jobs are real.
I’ve already mentioned a couple in my Twitter lineup above, but there are lots and lots (and lots!) of others out there. I subscribe to The Freelance Copywriter Collective, The Writer's Job Newsletter (whom I also follow on Twitter), and Freelance Writing Jobs from Sian Meades-Williams (mostly UK-based, but that often doesn’t matter!).
The Morning Coffee Newsletter is also a pretty well-known newsletter, as are The Freelancer Feed and Funds for Writers. I don’t personally subscribe to these, but they may be of interest to you!
Avoid Newsletter Overwhelm
Like I said, there are so many job posting newsletters out there. It can be tempting to subscribe to all of them… But when you’ve got a million job postings in your inbox, it can also be overwhelming.
And while all of these newsletters are a great resource, you usually have to act fast if you see something you’re interested in. It’s likely you’ll be competing with thousands of other subscribers for the same job openings.
Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week is a similar newsletter you have to pay for and there are other “paid” options out there, too. But the limited audience means you have less competition for the jobs that are featured. It’s pay-what-you-can, so it’s a worthwhile investment no matter your budget.
Heck, I even share a few job listings from around the web in my own weekly newsletter! I want you to see how many, many, many freelance writing jobs there are out there and how different they are from one another. Plus, I send out a few tips! 😉
The key here is to check out a few newsletters, see what they're like and what kind of jobs they send your way, and unsubscribe when you don't feel like they're right for you anymore. There's no harm in unsubscribing if it's not a good fit. You won't hurt anyone's feelings.
6. Cold Pitching
Just because you don’t see your dream job posted on any of the usual websites doesn’t mean it’s not available. Many freelancers have more luck with pitching the clients they want to work with directly rather than waiting for a posting to open up.
And frankly, this is how you make the most money – by going directly to the source.
This can work in two ways:
- You can pitch individual article ideas that, when published, are attributed to you with a byline – meaning you’re given full credit for your work and have an opportunity to share links to your website or social profiles – or
- You can send a pitch to a company or small business to ghostwrite content for them on their website, blog, social media profiles, and so on.
The Truth about Pitching
Pitching to publications often doesn’t pay much (or anything, depending on the platform). But having your name published and a link back to your website and social accounts is still incredibly valuable. Plus, you can publicly say you’re published on your own website and share your article on those same social channels with your followers!
The second option is trickier. While you may be reaching out to suggest helping make positive changes to a brand or small business’s written content, no one wants to hear about what they’re doing wrong. There’s a balance to this, but again, it can really pay off.
If you’d like to go the first route, most publications have guidelines posted about how to pitch them. Do your research first before you send a pitch. If you can’t find any, however, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to their editors via email or social media with a well-crafted pitch.
You might be surprised at how many gigs you can find just by asking.
Although the most popular remote work jobs move pretty quickly, there’s a huge demand for freelance writers if you know where to look. With a little creativity, you can land well-paying jobs in your niche without ever leaving home.
Not sure where to start with a freelance writing business? I can help with that! My 6-week freelance writing course, The Write Hustle, will teach you everything you need to know about setting your freelancing rate, designing your site, building your portfolio, finding clients, staying organized, and running your business. Check it out now!
by Krissi Driver | May 5, 2020 | Freelance Writing, Getting Started |
This article contains affiliate links to brands I know, use, and trust. I receive a small commission when you purchase services through these links.
Deciding to be a freelance writer is a dream for many people. The ability to work from anywhere and make your own schedule is pretty appealing, especially now, when it’s more common than ever to work remotely due to the novel coronavirus.
But not everyone is cut out for freelance life. Whether you’re looking to write full-time or just as a side gig, there are a few key traits that any good freelancer should have. Here are the most important qualities to develop if you want to pursue a writing career.
Freelance writing can easily get kind of chaotic, especially if you have multiple clients. A good freelancer knows how to keep their deadlines straight, whether that involves keeping a meticulous paper planner or using a project management software like Asana, ClickUp, or Trello.
Personally, I use ClickUp – which I only just started using recently. I like their paid version better than Trello (with whom I had an account for years and used it only sporadically) because I can switch between the board and list views.
Since working on The Write Hustle, my freelance writing course, ClickUp has been a game-changer. It’s helped me keep track of what I need to get done every week for the course as well as ensure I’m keeping tabs on all my work for my own freelance writing clients.
I also use my Google calendar and set up daily reminder emails to keep track of my own content as well as my clients’ content. Between these two systems, I keep my freelance writing business on track.
When it comes to freelance work, there’s no manager checking in to make sure you’re writing at any given time. It’s easy to get distracted by other tasks you want or need to get done (hello, Netflix and all the books I’m trying to read!), but you need to have the discipline to work – even though it’s always easier (and tempting!) to nap or watch TV!
A freelancer should have solid time management skills, especially if you’re writing as a side hustle. It’s hard to maintain a work-life balance when you work from home, so you’ll need to make sure you can get your work done on time while juggling all of your other responsibilities.
It’s not always easy, but setting up consistent routines can help you get into the groove. I’ve found that having specific days where I focus on certain clients or projects really helps me to not only stay organized but know what’s coming up every week. I use my ClickUp and Google calendars religiously.
Often, writers who write for agencies or big companies will have an editor to look over their work before it goes live. When freelancing, however, you have to be your own editor. It’s important to have a good eye for detail so you don’t send over work that’s riddled with mistakes.
Not everyone is a natural perfectionist, though, and that’s okay. Thanks to spell check, the burden on you is significantly reduced. Of course, spell check alone isn’t enough to guarantee a perfect article. Read everything over several times before you send it to a client to detect any grammar or syntax mistakes that spell check might have missed.
My biggest tip is to read your work aloud. It makes you feel a bit stupid, but it works like a charm. Sounding out your sentences gives you a better idea of how they flow and grammatical errors can be more jarring when you hear them than when you read them.
If you really want to get fancy and be extra-sure of your work, try reading paragraph-by-paragraph from the end and read in a pattern of 3 to 4 words at a time. Each sentence takes on a new cadence and, believe it or not, you’ll spot things that feel or sound awkward (or straight up don’t make sense) better than you will if you’re just reading straight through from beginning to end.
Once you’ve read “backwards” and have made changes, start again from the beginning and read it aloud naturally to ensure everything still makes sense.
If all else fails, try giving yourself some time between finishing your piece and sending it to the client so you can look it over with fresh eyes before submission. Sometimes being too close to the work can blind us to otherwise obvious mistakes.
While some people might think freelancers sit at home in their pajamas all day, freelance writing is a job like any other. You have to take your own work seriously if you want your clients to treat you right.
Be on time if not early. Never send work late – I live by this rule: “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.” Sending work after the deadline you’ve agreed on is a no-no.
Be courteous and respectful in emails and conduct yourself the same way you would if you had a boss looking over your shoulder. Know your worth and don’t be afraid to stand your ground. Your clients will respect you more if you stick to your rates and take pride in the work you do.
Freelance work ebbs and flows. One month your calendar might be booked solid, while the next… crickets. Factors like holidays, time of year, or current events can all affect the number of freelance jobs available at any given time.
That said, there is always a need for freelance writers. There is a place for every story and plentiful opportunities across the internet. Sometimes you have to hit the virtual pavement to find new gigs, but it’s doable.
If you want to rely on freelance work as a source of income, you’ll have to be resourceful and manage your workload so you’re never left with no (or not enough) money coming in. Sometimes this involves spacing out client work so you’re not overwhelmed all at once, but other times all you can do is make sure to have a savings cushion to get you through the lean times.
6. Great Writing Skills
Last but not least, the obvious answer: In order to succeed as a freelance writer, you have to have strong writing skills.
The good news is this can be learned! Writing for the web is different from creative writing or journalism. The flow is very conversational and as long as you have a solid grasp of spelling and grammar, you should be able to learn the rhythm with a little practice.
If you want to improve your writing, there are plenty of resources out there to help you learn. Udemy, Coursera, and Skillshare are three big-name online education platforms with plenty of writing courses. Hubspot Academy is another great website to learn about writing for the web.
While not everyone is cut out to be a freelance writer, it’s possible to learn if you have the drive. With a little dedication, you can master these skills and start earning money while living the freelance dream.
by Krissi Driver | Apr 28, 2020 | Business Tips, Getting Started |
Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur selling a physical product or service, a blogger, or hoping to become an internet influencer sensation, you’ve got to build an audience.
There’s no question that it takes time to develop an engaged following and there’s more than one way to do it, but the fact remains: it’s a crucial part of earning money online.
Without followers, no one will buy from you because you have no one to sell to.
It’s that simple. Seems simple, right?
In theory, it is. But building an audience online takes a lot of work and consistency. The beginning stages are oftentimes the hardest because you may not see much return for all the elbow grease you’re putting into the work. But with time and dedication, you’ll soon have your systems running practically on autopilot and bringing in more and more fans to your audience.
So, how do you do it?
5 Ways to Build an Audience
Like I said, there’s more than one way to build an audience. If you want to maximize your reach, your best bet is to utilize a mix of social media, email newsletters, and online content.
No matter how you go about it, you’ll have to do a little research to see what will get your people to engage with you. This might mean testing a few things at once (not everything at once!) or trying one thing at a time for a few weeks to see what works well and what doesn’t.
The main ingredient here is to determine who your ideal audience actually is and where they spend the most time online. If you can figure that out, then you’ll know where you focus your efforts.
Here are the X main areas to focus on when building your audience.
1. The Social Media “Big 4”: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn
Social media is a huge, HUGE part of building an audience – there’s no doubt about it. As of 2019, people around the globe spend an average of nearly 2.5 hours scrolling through their social feeds every day. That’s a lot of social time.
It makes sense that every business and brand wants to have a strong social media presence. But, like everything else, it doesn’t make sense for every brand to have a profile on every platform available.
Sure, massive companies like Nike, Apple, Starbucks, and others probably have social media accounts and followers on every conceivable platform out there, but they also have massive staff and advertising budgets that allow them to give multiple people the responsibility of keeping those profiles updated consistently.
As a solopreneur (meaning you’re doing everything yourself, girl!), you don’t have that luxury. Instead, you need to focus on where your ideal buyers are spending the most time.
The safest bets are Facebook, Instagram, and maybe Twitter.
Facebook is a no-brainer. Since its debut all the way back in 2004, it’s remained the largest social media platform on the internet. Everyone who is anyone (ahem, all the peoples) spend at least some time on Facebook every week if not every day.
Facebook has created some great ways to communicate with your followers. While Facebook pages have lost their luster over the years, Facebook groups are a fantastic way to offer value to your fans and build trust so they’ll eventually buy from you.
Build your Facebook audience by engaging in other groups, inviting friends from your personal circle of relationships and acquaintances, and talking up your page or group when you’re engaging with new people both on and off the internet.
Instagram isn’t technically in the “top 3” most popular social media sites, but when we hear the term “social media,” tell me Instagram isn’t one of the main platforms you think of. (It ranks in your head with Facebook, doesn’t it?)
Instagram is, obviously, image-driven. Increasingly, videos are becoming more popular on the platform, too, but it remains a mostly still image site. It’s harder to share links here (you can only do that well in your profile bio) and there’s no such thing as “Instagram groups,” but as humans, we love looking at pretty, interesting photos.
Instagram isn’t the best place to focus for everyone and it can be tougher to engage with your audience on this platform. On the flip side, it’s a great place to be for many entrepreneurs.
Build an Instagram following by researching hashtags that correlate to what you do or who you’re trying to reach. Start small here – look for hashtags that have 1,000 or fewer images linked to them. It’s easier to be found with these by new followers who are also searching the same hashtags; it’s a lot harder to be found as a newbie entrepreneur with a still-small following using hashtags that have hundreds of thousands of images linked to them.
Twitter, in my personal opinion, is a dying breed. Yes, the US president likes to air his grievances there at all hours of the day and night and yes, there are plenty of celebs that have great Twitter accounts that are very entertaining… but it’s a hard place to gather a following that will buy from you.
Twitter can, however, be a good place to interact with fans. In that sense, it’s not fair to completely shut it out of the “social media for business” running. After all, if we look at some big brands like Wendy’s (a US-based fast food restaurant) or Netflix, it’s clear that a dash of humor can go a long way in attracting an audience and engaging with them.
Build your Twitter following by following like-minded and -centered brands and influencers, big and small. Search for and use relevant hashtags in your tweets. Engage with others who have similar interests by commenting or retweeting their tweets. To make the most of Twitter, you’ll need to spend a significantly larger amount of time there than you might on Facebook or Instagram – you should be tweeting an average of 7-10 times in a single day.
LinkedIn is different than the other social platforms because it’s specifically a place for professional social relationships. It’s not a “bad” place, per se, for Twitter-like funny quips every now and then, but the tone is quite different than all the other social platforms.
This is a better place to be if you’re selling a “professional” product or service. In fact, professional services do the best here. LinkedIn gives its users some special tools, like groups, that are reminiscent of Facebook, but it also has some extra tricks up its sleeve.
LinkedIn is a great place to show the world you’re an expert at what you do because you can create a sort of mini-blog there. Writing and publishing articles on topics of interest to your ideal audience is a great way to help yourself stand out from the crowd and gain a following or potential customers or clients.
Build your LinkedIn audience by seeking out others in your field or similarly-aligned fields and connect with them. Search and use hashtags like you would on Instagram or Twitter and engage with folks often on their posts. Write articles to publish on your LinkedIn account that are native only to LinkedIn and not on your website.
Other Social Platforms to Consider
While the “big 4” should be on your radar, there are a few others you might not want to ignore.
For example, TikTok has become all the rage in the last year or so. In my mind, it’s the new Snapchat. Both of these platforms are places where a mostly younger crowd spends time. In essence, unless your ideal audience or client is under the age of 25, it’s likely not worth worrying about these platforms.
That said, if you enjoy them and think they may be beneficial to your business, by all means, use them!
Technically, YouTube could be classified as both a social media platform and a search engine.
As videos are open to consumption for anyone surfing the web (assuming the account owner has left them open), viewers can leave comments and interact with the person who uploaded the videos. This makes the platform social. YouTube also gives channels with large subscriber followings the option to do “stories,” something that originated on Facebook and Instagram.
As it’s owned and operated by Google, the search engine side of it makes a lot of sense. Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you type a search question into Google that the results will come back with a few video options on YouTube? It’s pretty cool, right?
YouTube is a powerful tool and if you’re comfortable being in front of the camera, it can be an awesome place to build a following.
Build your YouTube following by using a few strategic keywords in your video titles. Also, make a point to comment on your own video and ask questions to engage viewers to respond. Make sure to invite viewers to subscribe to your channel often.
Your blog is a major place for you to build a following for a few reasons:
- It plays a crucial role in search engine optimization (SEO) for your website.
- It gives you a place to demonstrate and showcase your expertise.
- It shows your audience that your business is alive and kicking.
- It offers a place for your audience to gain free value and ultimately helps you build trust with your followers.
Personally, as a content creator and marketer, I think every business should have a blog. I’m not kidding. Every. Freaking. Business. Needs a blog.
To make the most of your blog and grow your following, you need to write articles that
A) Are on topics that your audience finds interesting or answers frequent questions they may have, and
B) Are consistently offering value.
Here’s the thing, buttercup: No one wants to read a blog article about how you added a new team member to your company. Or about how you’ve gained a new customer. Or spotlighting something that’s about only you or your company.
People will come to your blog because you have something of value to offer them – information, tutorials, tips and suggestions, and so on. Don’t make it about you because ain’t nobody care about you. We’re all selfish (and that’s okay sometimes!), so make it a point to keep your topics focused on your followers’ interest.
4. Online Advertisements
You certainly can “pay to play” on social media or search engines and drive traffic to your website. While I don’t recommend this for entrepreneurs just starting to build an audience and are still getting the swing of things, paid advertising can be a powerful tool.
If this is something you want to start considering, I would recommend beginning with Facebook/Instagram or LinkedIn advertising. All of these platforms are very affordable and have robust options to set up ads that, with research and practice, are fairly easy to use.
I would also recommend that you drive traffic to a landing page to download a free tool or product, like an ebook or Trello board or spreadsheet you’ve designed. This way, you can add those folks to your email list, which brings us to my last point…
Unlike social media, email newsletters are the only guaranteed way you have to connect with your audience. Why?
Because you don’t own your social profiles, social media platforms do. You could get locked out of your Facebook or LinkedIn group at any time and if you don’t have a backup list of all those people in your group (because let’s face it, who does that?!), then you’re screwed. How are you going to connect with your people?
Also, none of us have control over social media algorithms. We simply can’t compete and “organic reach” – meaning the number of people who see your posts in their news feeds without you paying advertising dollars to get your posts front and center – isn’t what it used to be.
By sending consistent email newsletters, though, we can be certain all our followers have an opportunity to hear what we have to say. Sure, we can’t guarantee that all those people will open our emails, but we can be sure it lands in their inbox and they at least see it there.
Build your email list by offering freebies like I mentioned above – ebooks, spreadsheets or worksheets you create, Trello boards, or other tools you can develop or set up and share. Set up shop with an email service provider like Mailerlite to keep everything under one proverbial roof and stay organized.
Building an audience takes work, yes. But it can also be a ton of fun and as time wears on, it’s well worth the effort you put in. If you’re hoping to make money online in any capacity, you need a flock of fans who are excited about what you have to offer.