Get Paid to Build Your Writer Platform

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on May 25, 2009 in Marketing
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We recently talked about 30 ways to build your writer platform. In that list of things to consider pursuing to build your visibility, you may have noticed that several platform-building techniques have an added bonus--you can get paid for your efforts!

This is one of my favorite things about query-free freelancing. Unlike spending a lot of unpaid time writing queries to various companies and publications hoping for a bite or two in paid gigs, I'm able to earn money writing for myself while I work at attracting clients. Today I'd like to share a few of my favorite platform tools that contribute significantly to my income as a writer.

Blogs

To date, blogs have been the most beneficial tool I've found for attracting clients. So many order emails and queries coming in start out with something along the lines of "I found your blog at suchandsuch.com, and I'd like to hire you to help me with...." I run several blogs. They've attracted writing clients, but also PR clients back when I ran a full-service firm. They never failed.

Basically, I was able to write what I wanted to write and it helped me build demand for my services as well as my general network. It also allowed me to earn some decent income. My blogs vary quite a bit. Some earn a few hundred dollars per month with plenty of posting. Others earn the same with almost no updates. My best in the past used to earn around $2000 per month (after only a few months live) and I rarely visited it, nonetheless updated it.

That might not sound like a lot if you're used to earning $1.00 per word or more. It also might sound fine and dandy if a few hundred to a few thousand per month would help you out while you're working to attract higher-paying clients. And despite what some new bloggers seem to think, there's nothing "hard" about earning money. You just have to work with a niche that monetizes well and write content that people actually want to read. No hours on end marketing the site. No flooding it with sub-par content to attract search traffic. Seriously. Now it won't work as well in all niches for direct income (the music niche, for example, is notorious for being difficult to monetize), but you'll never know unless you try (and  my two highest-earning niches were a complete surprise--even the keyword research didn't suggest the averages of $2 per click that the blogs bring in).

E-books

I'm also a big fan of e-books and reports. My shorter ones are often given away for free for marketing purposes (more people read and pass around the free reports or they can be used to attract registrations like on this site). Longer ones I charge for. I've charged between $17 and $37 for e-books, and both price points worked quite well (and still do). You just target the content and price to your audience. Before you know it, you'll have people reviewing your product and spreading the word about you, and a few grand in your pocket that you otherwise wouldn't have had. Not too shabby for something that helps cement your authority status, grows your network, brings in exposure, and attracts clients.


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No, most platform-building tools won't line your pockets with cash immediately. But if you're going to spend weeks or months promoting yourself anyway (whether that be through queries or query-free methods), why not hit that end point not only bringing in paying work but with an established supplemental income as well? Besides, there's something extremely rewarding and enjoyable about being able to write for yourself and not solely for others. Give it a shot! Earn a bit of money through your marketing!

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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7 Comments

  1. Jennifer Escalona May 25, 2009 Reply

    Jennifer,

    I have several ideas for building my own platform, but I want to do more research before I put most of my eggs in one basket. How do you suggest researching your various subject matter niches before proceeding? I’d love some tips.

  2. Jennifer Mattern May 25, 2009 Reply

    Are you looking at choosing a niche for specialization, and you need ideas on narrowing down your options, or do you specialize in multiple niches and you want to know how to choose one for a blog topic or other focus area of your platform? When I know what you’re looking for in your choice, I’ll be happy to share some tips. :)

  3. JennEscalona May 26, 2009 Reply

    The latter! I have have way too many preferred niches (green and sustainability, social justice, mental health patient’s rights, genealogy, history), but want to really focus on one. And when I do, I want to go all out – blog about it, set myself up as an expert in it, teach classes in it, etc. I think the advice I want is how to do market research in these niches to find out which one would be more lucrative.

  4. Jennifer Mattern May 26, 2009 Reply

    Before I share some thoughts on researching and pulling out the best niche for a blog and further specialization, I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you which topic area I think the research is going to back up, assuming you have strong and equal credentials in each area: green and sustainability.

    It’s a hot topic with little sign of slowing down. More and more publishers are interested in the subject matter, and it can be adapted to work within almost any other niche (for instance, you can write about raising green kids in a parenting magazine to sustainable building pieces for an architectural mag or even newspaper). You could even focus on writing marketing copy for companies’ green marketing campaigns. There are very few boundaries there. The increase in demand for that content also makes me think you’ll find a greater number of lucrative opportunities than in some of the other niches, with perhaps more stable markets.

    It all starts with you though. Here’s what I’d suggest:

    1. Jot down all of your credentials (educational background, publishing credits, work or personal experience, etc.) for each topic area.

    2. Narrow it down to the top 2-3 specialty areas based on that (where you’ll naturally be most marketable).

    3. Decide what type of writing you want to focus on (content, marketing copy, etc.), and eliminate any topics left that wouldn’t adapt well to that style.

    4. Look at the market trends. Is it a relatively stable subject area (like genealogy), an area of growing interest (like green / sustainability), or an area of decline? You should have a vague idea already, but you could also check things like Google Trends to see how audience interest has fluctuated over time.

    5. Weed out anything with a declining audience interest, and for the others start thinking about potential clients. Is it a niche dominated by a few very large prospective clients and very few smaller competitors (meaning it could be hard to break in)? Or are there a lot of smaller publications, websites, or companies that might be looking to hire someone like you? There’s no single tool for finding this out, but you might be able to get an idea by searching job ads and freelance marketplaces. See if people are publicly hiring at all (while the best gigs often come privately over time, you’ll at least get some general insight into the demand in the niche).

    You need to be able to stand out from the crowd. That’s where credentials come in. You need a niche that isn’t going to disappear in a few years if you’re going to invest your time into building a career around it. You need a niche where there are clients willing and able to pay your rates. I don’t know how much help that will be, since there’s no single process that can work with all niches or make things easy, but it’s the basic idea. Rather than trying to choose one you think is best, look for ways to weed out the ones that aren’t. The process of elimination is your best friend when you’re torn between drastically different specialty areas as you are here.

  5. JennEscalona May 26, 2009 Reply

    Thanks so much, Jennifer! I really haven’t been taking the process of elimination approach. In fact, I’ve been doing quite the opposite and piling more work and potential specialties on myself.

    I’ve been putting off choosing a specialization because I was worried that I would choose a “bad” specialization and realize down the road that I’ve put hours and hours into something that doesn’t have a benefit. In my imagination, that one small mistake would, of course, lead to dying poor and alone. Thanks for giving me some concrete steps to (hopefully) make the decision that doesn’t lead to my family finding my moldering body in the middle of a newspaper maze. ;)

  6. Jennifer Mattern May 26, 2009 Reply

    Just remember that limiting yourself in focus doesn’t mean you can only focus on one thing. The key is really specializing in related areas or styles, so your platform for one can help with the other.

    For example, I specialize in PR writing and marketing communications pieces. I also write Web content and blog posts on small business, marketing, PR, and related topics.

    Even within PR writing alone, I’m never restricted too much – there are press releases, pitch letters, white papers, and even ghostwritten magazine features for clients.

    So even if your initial focus was a mistake, or you simply find a more profitable and attractive route later, you may not be that far off and your networking and marketing work certainly won’t be in vain. :)

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