July 21, 2004
Finding Work in Your Own Backyard By Debbie Swanson
Local clients are a home-based writer's dream. They are easy to stay in touch with, and are likely to share your name with other local companies - resulting in a network of accessible clients. Here are five easy ways to tap into the market just outside your door.
Auction Your Services
Private schools and youth organizations often host auctions as fundraisers. People from all walks of life attend these events: parents, who have connections to other clubs or organizations; business professionals; and local town representatives. Typically, these auctions depend on donations of goods and services from the community.
Donate a block of your time as an item to auction off, for example - two hours of writing services. At a typical auction, you provide a flyer and the details of your offering. This is placed in a silent auction display table or bulletin board, to be viewed by passing shoppers. Check with the auction manager to determine the set up, and then create an eye-catching flyer of your services. Appeal to needs that a passerby may have in the back of their mind, such as web content, family newsletters, or small business brochures. Also include a stack of business cards.
Not only does an auction offer possible contact with a new client, but your flyer will be visible to dozens of eyes, and any work that comes from your donation will provide you with a tax deduction.
Take A Walk Around
On your next trip to the dentist, drugstore or sub shop, take a walk through the rest of the building. Small companies in upper floors of buildings often employ a skeletal staff who may be thrilled to offload some of their writing needs. Also, explore any local office buildings. Keep a notebook in which you routinely jot down the addresses of businesses you find. Once you have a handful, mail them your brochure, and follow up a few weeks later. Make a habit of running these mailings 2 or 3 times a year.
Spread Your Identity
Develop a logo with your name and website and use it as much as possible. A good investment is a bulk order of notepads bearing your logo. Use it for memos you send to anyone - your children's teacher, doctor's office, your neighbor. Give extra notepads to your family and friends and encourage their widespread use.
Once people see your logo, chances are they will explore your website, and a connection will be made between you and your services.
Head For The Library
Get to know your local library. Librarians are wonderful resources and know a lot about what is going on in town - new committees, people embarking on new business ventures, local issues needing publicity. Introduce yourself as a freelance writer. Ask if the library maintains a database, either electronic or paper, of local services. Post your business card on the community bulletin board, then scan the other cards posted for potential clients.
If you live near a college, your services will be welcome by students, faculty and professors. Advertise your availability as an editor/proofreader, writing coach or ghostwriter. Graduate students will welcome editors, particularly if you offer a student discount. Faculty and professors seek ghostwriters or coaches to jump-start the article or book idea they've had rattling around in their head.
Whether you are new to writing or a seasoned pro, establishing yourself as a trusted, local professional is a great way to keep the telephone ringing.
Debbie Swanson is has been running a home-based writing business for eight years, specializing in business and technical communications. She has also published many freelance articles on parenting, writing, and other topics. You can read more about her business, Business and Technical Documentation Services, at: http://www.swansonwriting.com
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