How to succeed as a freelance writer

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Some time ago, I read 279 Days to Overnight Success by Chris Guillebeau. The book describes (among other things) how he became a full-time writer, his world-dominating strategy for building his brand, avoiding people who want you to fail, getting traffic without viral marketing, and more. The book is ideal for writers, bloggers, and other creative artists who want to expand their influence through social media. Chris Guillebeau has a lot to offer on his website, so make sure that you check it out (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in his website).

To follow is what I learned about succeeding as a freelance writer from the book.

Create a compelling strategy and be remarkable

Find your personal story – one that you have to tell. It will not be compelling to everyone, and that is OK. Telling your story will allow you to find your audience. Also create flagship content – this is your compelling story and the benefits to your followers. [Make sure to read A Brief Guide to World Domination.]

Answer “Reason why to follow/hire you” and “What’s in it for me?” questions

You must be able to answer these questions to attract and retain your audience. You must also keep answering these questions to give your audience a reason to stay.

Prioritize writing and marketing over everything else

Schedule time to write and market every day / week. Scheduling time is your motivation to write and market. Follow these two tactics: A. Write a minimum number of words per day (1000) to reinforce the habit and motivation. B. Take five marketing actions per day – Twitter posts/connections, reaching out to experts, scheduling a product launch). To help you do this, focus on spending time creating by yourself and thinking about the people who will be consuming what you create.

Be bigger than you really are

Act like you have more clients and a bigger audience, and that you are a bigger deal than you are. Be the authority in your field. Only you have your specific skills, knowledge and experience. Also, do not write to your whole audience – speak to a few people that you want to reach. To get bigger, get your site and materials reviewed by professionals / bloggers in your field, and get media coverage / reviews of your site / products.

Build long-lasting relationships

Spend time every day building and maintaining online and offline relationships – Twitter, LinkedIn, email, networking, phone calls, etc. Contact people that you read and respect (writers, editors, bloggers) and let them know that you enjoy and respect what they are doing. Develop a real relationship before ever asking them for anything.

Tell the world about what you do

Once you’ve developed good design and you have enough content, tell the world about your site / product. Send emails to everyone you know, and ask for feedback. Make sure to write great content and deliver great value – do not launch or promote your site before you are ready.

Respect your followers

Give your followers the best you have to offer. Don’t send them to other sites via clickthrough ads, as you have no control over where they are going. Answer every email from your followers. Ask them for feedback on what content they want to read. Read their questions and create content that answers those questions. Ask them why they visit your site and how you can best help them.

Do what you love

Your goal should be to do something you love and enjoy, and that will also help you to earn a living. Do something that you like that people will pay you to do. What you do should also help your audience in some way – by entertaining, educating or inspiring them.

Chris Guillebeau has a lot more to say in 279 Days to Overnight Success – I took a lot of notes, and shared what I thought was most relevant here. Make sure to give it a read.

I plan to write more summaries of eBooks I’ve downloaded over the years. I have a lot of them to read and share. If there are any eBooks that you’d like me to read and summarize for you here, or give my thoughts on, let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

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