You’re an expert. You have a niche and you know it inside out. You go to conferences covering it. You blog about it. You’ve written resources about it. If a client needs a freelance writer who specializes in his industry, he should be talking to you. But do you have the reputation of an expert to go with your actual expertise?
While expertise can sell a client, reputation is what brings in clients without you having to track them down individually. Your own writing, whether you’re operating your own blog as a marketing tool or choosing work that lets you write articles in your niche, is the starting point of your reputation. But you can promote both by acting as an expert in other situations.
Act As An Expert Source
Just as you need sources for the articles you write, so do other writers. You can provide expert quotes, along with a link to your website, sharing your knowledge of the topic. You might expect this technique to work primarily for writers who cover specific topics for different publications, but it can be just as useful to writers with other niches. A writer who focuses on creating marketing copy for a specific industry can get attention from the trade magazines for that industry: you can be an expert source on marketing for that industry very easily.
One tool in particular makes it easy to both be a source and find sources of your own: Help A Reporter Out. HARO is a mailing list, sent out three times each weekday, listing requests by reporters for sources. You can simply keep an eye out for the requests that match your expertise and send in a response. I’ve been quoted all over the place because of HARO — even in an Italian-language newspaper!
Speak As An Expert
We’ve already talked about going to networking events, conferences and other opportunities to meet people. You can make sure that people want to meet you at these events by speaking. At many smaller, reoccurring events, the organizer is likely always looking for someone new to speak. Conference organizers often wind up in similar situations: they need to find interesting speakers, but have a hard time finding new speakers.
You can offer up your services as a speaker and demonstrate your expertise to a whole room full of people who will spread the word.
Position Yourself Online
A willingness to answer questions can help promote your abilities rather quickly. Many social networking sites and forums provide an opportunity to answer questions of your fellow members — and to demonstrate your expertise. On LinkedIn, for instance, you can answer questions at LinkedIn Answers on all sorts of topics. You can keep an eye out on Twitter for questions just as easily.
These questions can also provide you an opportunity to follow up with a discussion of your own services. You don’t want to overwhelm a potential client with marketing materials, of course, but you can create an opening with a simple statement like, “I happen to provide this service that solves your problem. I can provide you with more information if you’d like.”