I understand. You didn’t think about marketing. You got into tech writing because you wanted to explore the inner workings of the tech around you and maybe explain it to people via the written word. If you resemble me, you get bored quite easily and want to learn about new gizmos (technical term my father used for whatever he was writing about). Freelancing seems like a good way to do that: a new gizmo to explore with every project.
But then the hard truth of the economy hits you. Getting work on the big bidding sites like Guru and ODesk means competing with folks in places like India and the Philippines, where rates can be lower – a LOT lower — and still provide a good living. The people looking to hire from these sites aren’t the ones willing to pay going rates for a native technical communicator. You are going to have to… market yourself.
I Just Lied
Not about the competition, or the need to market, but about the fact that clients on those sites aren’t willing to pay going rates. Some are. But it takes savvy marketing to find them there, too.
Don’t Like the Word Marketing?
So don’t use it. Instead of marketing, maybe you can seduce new clients. Too blatant? The truth is, marketing is just a word that means telling people about yourself and your work so they want you to solve their problems. Really, it’s the same thing you do when you write a cover letter, send a resumé, and go to an interview for a traditional job. But when you are successful you have a client who is your equal instead of an employer who is your superior.
So don’t treat marketing like one of the seven deadly sins. It doesn’t need to be slimy, scary, or hard sell. In fact, especially for service-based businesses like ours, I’d argue that those methods are even more counter productive than they are in a used car lot.
Try reading the book Marketing: a Love Story by Bernadette Jiwa, or visiting her blog at The Story of Telling. She’s got great examples, and I’ve found her writing a good way to dampen my fear and dislike of the “M” word.
You might also be interested in this previous blog post of mine: 5 Ways to Be Found
If you’re looking for a step by step plan for attracting new clients, my book, “The Technical Writer’s Guide to Finding Freelance Jobs” is exactly that. (Obviously I’ll get a royalty from sales of this!) With some wisdom from my long-time freelancer father thrown in for good measure.