Last issue I suggested that the power of presence via the Internet (email – web sites – blogs) has really changed the face of marketing our services. They all allow us to very easily and fairly passively market our services and information related products.
Certainly there is no excuse not to have customized signature lines in your emails. And if nothing else your blogs can serve as an online repository to some of your writing samples. That way you just direct potential clients to your work with a simple hotlink. As for your signature lines, you might want to consider having more than one, depending on the point and purpose of a particular message to a particular client.All that said, that is a relatively passive way to market your services. If I were starting my business all over again, I would get my butt out the door and meet people- for no other purpose than to start the process of developing dialogues.
As a starting point I would join two groups. A writing or communications association – such as IABC or STC to name two that have active chapters the world over. If you are keen on freelance journalism – then there are specific writing groups devoted to magazine, science and magazine writing to identify three more. And there are national editing associations also on both sides of the border. You can do the search.
Go to a few meetings to get a feel if there is a comfortable fit for you and your interests.
Then volunteer for any job they’ve got going. It’s the fastest way I know to get to know your writing/communications community, earn brownie points, and meet potential clients. The delicious part of volunteering is that you set in motion a set of events the outcome of which you can never predict. Just do it. It cannot fail to pay off.
But there is a second group I would join. Let’s say you are really interested in matters of science and technology. Let’s be even more specific – you have a real interest in biotechnology. Dollars to donuts there is a biotech association somewhere near you. I would start with the university closest to you – the chances are pretty good you will track down such a group – made up of all the biotech firms trying to come up with the next cure for aging diseases to meet the demands of the baby boom demographic.
Go to one of their meetings and you will find yourself in a room full of people talking about their passions – their companies and what new discoveries they are working on.
And here’s the thing. You will likely be the only writer in the room. Even if you are not a scientist, I bet you could make the case that you could translate what they do into plain English.
Also, see if they have an association newsletter. If they do – ask them if they want help editing. If they don’t – suggest they start one – and you would be exactly the person to do the job. They would probably kiss your feet.
Now I am not in favour – at all – of selling yourselves cheap and giving your work away. But I am a big fan of volunteering – in an area that really interests you – as a part of you establishing your presence.
One more thing, don’t go into volunteering with the direct expectation that there will be a quid pro quo payoff for you. There will be – if you go into it with enthusiasm and pure of heart – but not so much if your only motive is a financial payoff.
It’s sort of like that butterfly thing and happiness. You know the story.
The more you chase after it with an expectation that your are going to catch “it”, it always eludes your grasp. Be a little still, and before you know it the butterfly just lands on your shoulder.
Well, ok the analogy doesn’t quite work. The point is with volunteering, if you do it with only an end goal in mind – that goal will likely exceed your grasp. But get yourself involved in meeting their needs and you would be amazed at the things that fall right into your lap. Trust me on this. The power of presence – it can’t be beaten.