Welcome Tara Lynne Groth today!
You’ve been freelancing almost five years now. How did you get started?
I read a great book by Kelly James-Enger titled Six Figure Freelancing. Then I found my first client on Craigslist; he is still a client today and I have never met him in person. His business is over 200 miles away and he needed press releases at the time we first connected. I still handle his press releases as well as case studies and content marketing on social media. In regards to journalism, during the same month I acquired my first client I sent my first query letter to a local paper about covering an upcoming festival. They liked my idea and I was published in print a few months later. Then I pitched other markets and my clips continued to grow.
You make the majority of your living from blogs and SEO content for businesses. How do you keep up on the SEO “rules” and changes in search algorithms?
Staying updated on search engine optimization changes feels like a job in itself! I start where it all starts – following the Google Webmaster and Bing Webmaster forums. I also read daily alerts from Search Engine Watch and get Google Alerts on algorithm changes. I LOVE attending conferences on digital trends. My favorite is the Internet Summit held annually in Raleigh (where I live).
Like many freelancers today, you have a variety of income sources, like magazine articles, poetry, and nonfiction books. Tell us how each help you with your brand and platform.
I wouldn’t say poetry is an income source for me. 🙂 I like to think of all the other writing I do as funding for writing poetry. Magazine articles help me grow my platform in many ways. I can connect with experts in multiple industries–individuals who may need web content and press releases down the road–and gain new readers and followers. Poetry allows me to connect with other writers and grow community, but I have seen it attract a client with no interest in poetry–he just thought it was “cool” that I wrote it and it made him want to work with me for creating content for his website. Nonfiction books are fantastic tools for building platform and establishing oneself in a specific field. My first nonfiction book was a travel guide to a popular music festival, which landed me interviews in local papers, regional magazines, and features in national markets. It was a lot of work to put together: I conducted all the interviews, designed the cover, formatted a print-ready manuscript, and created and funded my own book tour along the East Coast. All of this shows my clients what I can do for them, and I’ve helped professionals do the same for their own books. My next nonfiction book is forthcoming in late 2014 and it is a guide for freelancers-to-be. It will be an expanded version of the topics I cover on my blog Write Naked.
In your opinion, what’s the best way to get new clients as a freelancer?
Optimize your website and make it extremely user-friendly. I rarely prospect for clients because I receive inquiries or phone calls after individuals find my website. Hey, if I make my living optimizing websites–mine better be a working example! Also, do a great job and your work will speak for itself in referrals and testimonials.
Do you have a favorite book about writing or small business that has helped you?
Yes, the one I mentioned above, Six Figure Freelancing. The pages of my copy are dog-eared, notes in the margins, sections are highlighted–it’s worth every penny!
What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start freelancing today?
Don’t be afraid to spend money on yourself to grow your business. Be prudent about where you invest, but don’t limit yourself. I experienced, still experience, and I know I will continue to experience working with writers who penny pinch. If you are moving toward making an income writing, you can annually deduct the expenses of continuing education/professional development courses, educational books and magazine subscriptions, travel to writing events, and much more on your taxes. Learn as much as possible about the business side of writing so that it doesn’t overwhelm you and you can instead focus on the writing that you need to do.
Anything you’d like to add?
Save money before becoming a full-time freelancer! I had three years’ worth of savings in my account before I resigned from my job. I used it much faster than expected, but it was the perfect start-up cushion. Also, set financial freelance goals while you are still on payroll. If you are unable to meet them–face reality and make changes. I waited one year before I resigned and it helped give me the confidence I needed to write full-time.
Where can we find you online?