You will hear this all the time when you are a new writer: you have to market yourself. But what does this mean? The famous Writer’s Market publication is great for finding publications that pay, but how do you find businesses and individuals who need your services?
Marketing yourself as a writer is like attending a junior high dance. You’ll rehearse your pitch in advance: “Do you want to dance with me?” practicing various intonations, “do YOU want to dance with ME?”, “Do you want to DANCE with me?”, then somehow it comes out completely garbled in your first interaction with one of the popular guys, who politely – but emphatically – turns you down.
You move on to someone a little less risky, maybe the popular guy’s wingman, who is a bit of a douchecanoe and makes some horrible comment about your lipstick. You wonder if you were an idiot for choosing fuchsia, even though you were so certain it looked awesome at home, so you cry in the bathroom a little then emerge with a new layer of fuchsia because, no, you love it, and fuck that guy.
You commiserate with your friends, dance with them for a bit, regain your confidence, and one of the nerds asks you to dance. He thinks your lipstick is rad. You’re not one to be rude, so you oblige, and it’s fine, but it wasn’t as magical as you’d hoped.Marketing yourself as a writer is like attending a junior high dance. Click To Tweet
Then, maybe, if you’re lucky, your crush comes up and kisses you right on the fuchsia. Score!
Replace “dance partner” with “client” (and take out the kiss), and there’s a typical workweek when you’re starting out as a freelance writer.
On Writing Markets
Let’s define a writer’s market, so you can see exactly how broad and promising our field is. A market is an outlet that will pay you to write stuff for them. This isn’t just magazines, books, and advertising agencies — with the digital transformation well underway, you can find clients in a plethora of surprising places.
Every bit of writing you interact with, from billboards to brochures to books, can be broken down into one of two categories: business-to-business writing (B2B), or business-to-consumer writing (B2C).
These categories describe the intended audience of a piece of content. In terms of writing, think of B2C as what you see out in the world, as a consumer. Waiting room brochures, online literary journals, books at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon are examples of B2C writing.
B2B writing, by contrast, tends to live behind the scenes, but doesn’t always. A restaurant training manual, a video commercial for an industry trade show, a corporate executive’s speech, or a whitepaper are examples of B2B materials.
Of course, there are endless other ways to categorize the written word:
By intent: persuasive, expository, or narrative writing
By fact: fiction or nonfiction
By mode of delivery: blog, print brochure, native advertising
However, for our purposes, categorizing writing by your intended audience, B2B or B2C, will cover most every type of writing you can imagine, and help you discover new types of markets that fit your interests and expertise.
Opportunities for Writers are Growing
It’s my opinion that modern businesses need creative writers and journalists more now than ever. Companies need websites to thrive today, and websites need writers. Beyond that, technology has made it easy for countless micro-businesses to appear from nowhere, and these businesses need writers also. They need help with copywriting, email newsletters, and blogs. They need mission statements, training materials, and technical documents. They need storywriters, creative writers, to imagine what their customers might want to read or learn about.
This is an exciting time for working writers, and the best time for new writers to find their market niche.