Visibility can be difficult for technical communicators. As I said in my book, if we wanted to be marketers, we’d be advertising ourselves as copywriters and writing sales pages for people. Unfortunately, despite our penchant for delving into how things work, we do still have to find a way to connect with clients. And that does mean marketing and being visible to the world at large.
So how do you get seen by potential clients? I wish I could give you a magic wand. Sometimes clients will find you out of the blue – “I saw you on the internet,” one told me, but couldn’t be any clearer than that. I’d love to know where he found me, so I could shore up my offerings in that location, but often they don’t remember either. All we can do is be visible. In many places. So here are five ways I’ve used and find work pretty well.
1. Cold Calling
I know it’s the most distasteful idea for most tech writers. But if you need clients yesterday, it is also still the most effective. Seriously. Make a list of local companies who do what you write about, pick up the phone and start calling. Commit to 25-50 calls per day and you’ll connect with someone who needs you pretty quickly.
2. Start a Blog
No, not one for other writers. (Says the woman writing a blog for other writers!) If you are looking to attract clients, write for your clients, not your peers. What do potential clients need to know? What would they be searching for?
3. Join your Local Chamber of Commerce
Attend meetings. Be prepared to answer lots of questions about how what you do can help other business owners’ bottom line. If anyone really gets interested, follow up with a phone call in a couple of days. Do NOT wait a week. People have short attention spans. Call promptly. If you told them you’d call, call at the time you specified.
4. Send Brochures by Mail
Understand that between postage, printing, repetition (you’ll need to get your message to people a minimum of four times before they react), and a low 1% rate of return, this can get expensive very quickly.
5. Start a Social Media Campaign
Join LinkedIn. Join a couple of groups in your niche and talk to the people in them. (Not tech writing, although these can be helpful, too). Make connections. Offer your services when it seems appropriate. There is a fine line between “getting your name out there enough” and “spamming a group that doesn’t want it.” Be polite and try not to be overbearing. But if you can help someone with a project they mention, tell them.
The key to marketing IS visibility. If you aren’t ready to be visible, maybe you aren’t ready to go freelance. Some people never are. That isn’t a bad thing. It just means that those writers are better off as an employee than hunting down their own projects.