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Create a Great Web Site for Your Freelance Writing Business
by Susan C. Daffron, SPAWN President
To get writing work, you have to let people know you exist. Setting up a Web site is the best way to start, no matter where you are. If nothing else, it makes your work visible and accessible to a large audience.
Today, every working writer absolutely must have a Web site. The reality is editors expect you to have an online presence. Editors are your customers, so you need to meet their needs to get published. With a web site, you can prove your writing is good by putting your portfolio online. Plus, because the site is accessible 24/7 in all time zones, it can be promoting your work even when you're asleep.
People who work in publishing are extremely busy. Deadlines are a constant pressure. They don't want to wait for a 500K file of your latest article to download. Or worse, a poorly scanned version of a press release you wrote. It's a lot easier for them if you give them a list of links and let them read online at their convenience.
A Web site may seem like a daunting task. But a site doesn't have to be complicated. Think about what your customer wants to know (i.e., those editors you want to impress). Then make pages to answer their questions.
All writer Web sites should contain:
1. Concise information about your writing specialty. What do you do? It's not a good idea to try and be everything to everybody. It's a recipe for confusion, so pick a specialty and focus on it.
2. A list of writing credits. Now that a lot of magazines are online, you can often link directly to your articles. At a minimum, you can usually link to the main publisher or client home page.
3. Samples of your writing. Some editors want to see articles that haven't been edited by a pro. Why? A really good editor can make bad writing almost unrecognizably good. Editors know that someone else could be cleaning up your writing. So it never hurts to show a few clips in an unaltered state. This may sound like extra work. But it's really an opportunity for you to write some original material that you can reuse later.
Along these lines, many writers start an ezine or newsletter. Yes, it's a commitment. But it's also the easiest way to start developing content and promoting it directly to your niche writing markets. An ezine is certainly one of the lowest cost ways to promote your writing talents.
However, starting an ezine is a bit of work, so first get your Web site up and functioning. Then once that is working for you, decide on a focus and a format for your ezine. Write a few articles ahead of time. Then get an autoresponder or list mailing service set up, and being promoting. Of course that's the bare minimum, but there are many resources online on starting up ezines. As a writer, you're probably also a researcher, so this is a great opportunity to learn.
One classic writer question is, "how can I get published if I don't have any clips?" It's the chicken and egg problem recast for writers: you can't get work without any clips, but you can't get clips if no one will give you work.
Creating your own Web site content solves the problem. Write your own articles and publish them yourself online in your ezine. If you're concerned that these "self-published" clips won't be as impressive as published clips, don't be. Remember what editors want: articles that are original, easy to read, accurate, and on time. Your Web site proves that you can at least deliver on the "original, easy to read, and accurate" parts!
Susan Daffron aka The Book Consultant is the President and Webmaster of SPAWN. She is the author of 12 books, including Publishize: How to Quickly and Affordably Self-Publish a Book That Promotes Your Expertise and Web Business Success: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Web Sites That Work. Susan owns a book and software publishing company called Logical Expressions, Inc., which offers book layout, design and consulting services.
You can read more of Susan's publishing articles on the Book Consultant Web site.
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