The Friday Five: Generating Leads or Where to Find Work as an Online Writer

I had several conversations this week with people who are just starting out in the field of writing online and the biggest question they all had was 'where to find work.' There are glaring places that can be found using Google, and I won't insult your intelligence by listing them here because if you're worth your salt as a writer, you've already seen them.

If you're reading this it is because you want something a bit off the beaten path for yourself - not just any old run-of-the-mill gig. You are here because you want to create something that is unique to only you, and truly, that is the only way to create longevity for the brand that is you, the author, and to find your happy place as a writer.

Craigslist

I know this might be on the list of the obvious places, but for all the spammy monsters lurking there, Craigslist offers you the unique opportunity of reaching a thriving underground community of prospective employers or if you're a freelancer, potential clients. Everyone already knows about it and it is a vast and highly established network of people who all know what they're looking for, so when you hit pay-dirt there, and you will fairly often, you hit it big. One other thing about Craigslist is the fact that you can find both online/telecommuting kinds of projects, as well as in person paying jobs if that's what you want.

One of the best gigs I ever had came from an ad that I ran on Craigslist. It was long term, lucrative, lots of fun, a learning experience, and continues to line my coffers from the references and knowledge I gained during the project. One tidbit and something that I think most people are afraid to do, make sure you are very specific with what you want and what you have to offer and do not be afraid to ask for (and expect) it in return. You really do get what you ask for.

Writers Forums & Professional Networking Sites

At the risk of sounding like a sales pitch, places like The Market List can be an excellent place to network and find writing jobs. These are also the kinds of places that people looking for writers frequent because they know that they will receive an accurate portrayal of a writer's abilities and communication skills. If you're the strong, silent type, you'll need to break out of that shell to do well writing online, and places like this can help you by giving you the chance to network with other writers.

Places like LinkedIn that cater to professionals who want to network with other professionals are also excellent online locales for gathering new prospects. The benefits of a site like LinkedIn is that you are providing your resume up front to anyone who wants to see it, and your networking abilities are clear by the amount of involvement you have with friends or others in your field. Unlike somewhere like Monster.com or other 'job' finding sites, networking sites give you the opportunity to act naturally and showcase your best work. You never know who you're going to meet.

Personal Blog or Website

Never underestimate the power of maintaining your own blog or website for attracting potential writing projects. The benefits of this kind of location are that you can write about anything and everything you want, while building your own following through an email list or newsletter. As your popularity grows, prospective clients who identify strongly with your style and skill will approach you for work.

Two very interesting writing opportunities came to me this way. My blog was fairly new and not tailored at all toward obtaining new clients, but my writing style and abilities caught their attention and lead them to contact me right through the blog! Although I ended up passing both projects along to another writer friend who I felt would be better suited to the work (another great way to get work - friend referrals), I did learn a valuable lesson about the power of the Internet and its ability to attract the right people to you at the right time.

Friends

These are not new concepts, but applied to the work of online writing you will see some unique results. More than ever, the idea of guest-posting on the blogs of others is extremely popular. Through this practice everyone benefits, you by getting more exposure to a new audience, and your friend by receiving a free blog post in another voice and tone.

My suggestion to make the most of this practice would be to find several blogs that you like, regarding topics or fields that you love and support. Believe me on this one, go for what you LOVE right off the bat - Danielle Laporte has a great motto, 'anything less than a Hell Yes! is a No.'

 

Freebies
You can also just start writing about something you love and put the money thing on the back burner. After all, it typically follows that when you do what you love, the money comes on its own.

One of the fastest growing sites that I ever owned happened about 3 years ago when I started a blog called Organic Product Reviews. The idea stemmed from my absolute love and devotion to supporting and using only the best and most environmentally friendly products and food that I could find. I was heavily into local merchants and small business owners, supported all kinds of Etsy sellers who were making innovative, new organic products, and lent my voice and support to every organic farm in the nation whenever possible.

The blog grew so fast that I got overwhelmed and shut it down after only 3 months. I simply couldn't keep up with the demand and was afraid to let go of my solid stream of income to do so. I was getting requests from all kinds of suppliers asking me to test and review their products. And for the first time in my life, I actually made a small amount of money running ads. I have no doubt that if I had held on and been willing to take the risk, I would have done very well in a field that still garners my devout support.

The lesson? Write about what you love, the rest will come!

That rounds up the Friday Five for this week, but I'll have an article next week on the benefits and pitfalls of WordPress versus Blogger for your blog. If you want to be an online writer, you're going to need a website or blog.

Copyright © 2012 Patricia Ross. All rights reserved.

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