To get clients as a self-employed professional, you must build the know-like-and-trust factor that makes people want to buy from you. You can increase their knowing with any sort of contact, exposure, or follow-up. When their exposure to you is positive, they start to like you. But building their trust — that can be harder.
In the 20+ years I’ve been self-employed, I’ve found three strategies
that reliably increase trust: speaking, writing, and referral-building.
All three of these strategies work to increase your professional
credibility, which is a strong trust builder. Let’s look at the writing
strategy in more depth.
When you write about topics in your area of expertise, you can
increase three trust-building elements at once: awareness, credibility,
and repeat contact. If your target audience becomes aware of you, finds
you credible, and hears from you consistently over time, they will begin
to trust you.
The type of writing that has this powerful impact is writing you do regularly
— blogging, publishing a newsletter, writing articles or guest blog
posts that you inform your contacts about, or an ongoing column. It also
must be quality writing. Publishing a piece with an enticing
title, but unfulfilling content, will bring you clicks, but not clients.
To build trust, you must become a reliable source.
If you’re ready to use your writing to get more clients, here are five steps you need to follow.
1. Determine your target audience.
Who do you want your writing to speak to? Get specific about the target
audience you most want to attract. Let’s say your business serves small
business owners. Will any small business owner do, or would you most
like to attract start-ups? If so, that’s who you need to be writing for.
Don’t try to hedge your bets by making your material more generic. That
will reduce its usefulness, and therefore won’t serve as a trust
2. Write material that makes your readers want to work with you.
This advice may sound obvious, but I often see it ignored. Which piece
is more likely to attract a potential client for a career coach: “How Is
Career Coaching Different from Career Counseling?” or “How to Find a
Job When You Don’t Know What You Want.” My vote is for the latter, but
I’ve seen an awful lot of coaches write about the former. You should
write pieces that make readers see how you could help them, rather than
those simply provide information.
3. Publish your writing in accessible, sharable ways.
Make your writing available in ways that allow the maximum number of
people to access and share it. If you’re blogging, link to your blog
from multiple places on your website, and give people a way to subscribe
to your posts. With a newsletter, archive it online so readers can link
to your pieces or find them later on. If you’re writing articles, guest
blog posts, or a column, don’t publish in venues that will hide your
work behind a paywall.
4. Publicize what you’ve written.
To get maximum value out of each piece you write, publicize it after it
appears. Don’t rely on others to do this for you. Inform all your social
media channels about each piece, and do so more than once. When your
writing is evergreen, you can continue to publicize an item for months
or even years. Notify your mailing list when a piece appears somewhere
other than their inbox. You can also re-issue pieces in compilations
such as special reports or ebooks.
5. Write, publish, and publicize consistently.
Remember that building trust requires awareness and repeat contact. When
people don’t hear from you for a while, they forget about you and their
trust can slip away. It’s a helpful practice to create a writing
calendar for yourself, where you lay out in advance a schedule for
publishing and publicizing. This will also allow you to plan your topics
in advance, so you won’t be stuck for a subject when it comes time to
write your next piece.
If you enjoy writing and you have valuable content to share, writing
can become a cornerstone of marketing your business. Follow these five
steps, and you’ll start to see your published words bring you paying