Sounds mysterious, doesn’t it?
Like every good salesman, let me start by telling you what the rule isn’t. It’s not about invoicing, time management, productivity, promotion, billing your clients differently, getting inspiration, hiring other people, or other tasks directly related to running a business.
This rule is much more basic and it actually touches upon the core activity of a freelance writer.
Now, bear with me because the advice I’m about to share may seem like it has no sense whatsoever, but before you shoot it down let me explain. So here goes:
Give away 50% of your writing for free.
Or in other words, for every paid article you write, write another one and share it for free.
So … are you still here, or did I scare you off completely?
There’s a point to this madness, so let me give you the main reason right away.
What’s even more important than the product you’re offering?
There’s one fact that most business owners (not only freelancers) realize sooner or later. And it’s that marketing is more important than the product.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much you can write as a freelancer. What matters is how much of it you can sell (aka marketing).
And there’s no better marketing approach than sharing stuff for free. If you don’t believe me, take it from someone who’s actually done some research on this – Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational.
Now, this isn’t about giving your client an extra article every time. This is about sending the article somewhere else…
How it’s done
The process is simple, really. Once you have this extra article ready, send it as a guest post, and promote yourself through a nice byline.
I know that the concept of guest blogging has been discussed online over and over again. But admit it, the most difficult part about guest blogging isn’t to get your article published somewhere, it’s to find the motivation and the drive to write this article in the first place.
That’s where the 50/50 rule comes into play. If you’re struggling to find the motivation you need then just force yourself to do it simply because “the rule says you have to.”
I mean, we all know the benefits of guest blogging, right? You get some recognition on big websites, and you get it for free. Additionally, you have the opportunity to showcase your skills, so potential clients can contact you after stumbling upon your guest post.
Moreover, you can improve your site’s SEO, drive new traffic, build a better portfolio, even promote your own products if you have any.
I don’t want to go on and on explaining the “why” so let me just summarize this part with one sentence: Guest posting is a pretty basic concept, but finding motivation to do it isn’t, so use the rule to get a head start.
What to write about?
There are a couple of approaches at guest posting that work quite nice. You can either (1) write an article about whatever topic stumbles your mind and then search for a suitable blog to publish it.
Or (2) you can start looking for quality blogs and then craft a custom-made article just for them.
When it comes to me, I do a little of both. Depends on the mood (by the way, feel free to comment and let me know which one of these approaches seems more sensible to you).
Of course, if you want to publish something on a specific blog, but the topic it covers is not within your comfort zone then you’ll have to do quite a bit of researching before writing anything. Don’t try sending a half-baked post. It won’t get published.
Don’t be afraid of the A-list
Many beginner freelance writers are afraid to submit posts to big sites, and it seems quite intuitive… I mean, getting published on a smaller site should be easier, right?
Well, not quite. Big sites usually have a very good editorial team that acts fast and responds to every email you send. While small publishers are often so busy that they don’t even have time to write a simple one-sentence response.
In a nutshell: getting published on major sites is just as easy/difficult as on small, one-month-old sites.
When to write this free content
In my experience, the best moment is right after you’ve finished writing a paid piece. If you move the free work to the weekend, for example, chances are you won’t write anything at all.
Write while you’re hot and motivated, waiting is not a good idea.
What to link to
One of the main elements of guest posting is your author’s bio box.
The most intuitive thing to do is to simply link to your own site, which is fine. But apart from the link itself, don’t forget to mention that you’re a freelance writer. Your future clients are surely browsing the internet right now, so use your bio box to point out that you’re the person worth choosing.
Also, instead of linking to your homepage consider linking to a “hire me” page. If you don’t have such a page on your website then you should really create it right away.
A quality “hire me” page should present your range of services, point out any important information a client might find useful, and also showcase your portfolio. By the way, this is where the guest posts come into play again.
In my opinion, there’s nothing better than the possibility to list some nice online brands in your portfolio. Displaying a handful of logos on your “hire me” page gives you some instant social proof.
Is it extreme?
This 50/50 rule probably sounds a bit extreme. And I’m not even trying to say that I manage to hit the 50/50 mark spot on every time, but it’s always a nice goal to aim for.
If you want to start slow then make it a 70/30 rule. Sending out 30% of your work for free should also improve your online reputation significantly over a short period of time (obviously, this depends on the amount of work you do).
What’s your opinion? Are you willing to give it a shot?