“I’d like to attract clients by writing articles or a blog, but I’m not sure what to write about.”

“I tried blogging for a while, but it didn’t bring me any business.”

“When I write, people seem to like it, but I have only a handful of readers.”

These are some of the comments I hear from self-employed professionals who think that writing about their area of expertise might be a path to attracting clients… but feel like they don’t have a map. I understand their frustration. It’s easy to make crucial mistakes when using writing as a marketing strategy. But you CAN do this successfully. Here are six guidelines to make writing pay off.

1. Consistency is key. For writing to succeed as a marketing approach, you need to write regularly. Whether you are posting to your own blog, publishing in your ezine, or writing articles or guest posts published elsewhere, you must write frequently. I recommend writing at least weekly if you have your own blog, and twice a month at minimum if you’re publishing elsewhere.

2. Write content, not copy. Articles and blog posts aren’t the place for marketing copy. Write to educate, entertain, or evoke emotion in your readers. That’s what will keep them coming back for more of your material. Write about the same topics you discuss with your clients every day; share that same expertise with your readers. See #6 below for where your marketing copy belongs.

3. Showcase your work. Go beyond just providing information to your readers. Give them a glimpse of how you work. Include phrases like:

  • One of my clients had this problem, and here’s what I helped him do
  • A student in one of my classes asked about this and here’s how I answered
  • I’ve developed the following solution for the clients I work with
  • Here’s what I’ve learned in helping my clients with this issue

4. Once you’ve written, promote. Don’t rely on readers finding their own way to your blog posts or articles. Get your writing in front of potential readers in as many different ways as possible. Send your articles or posts via email, mention them on social media, link to them on your website, pass out copies at speaking engagements, and announce them to your professional groups.

5. Position yourself as an expert. Include with your writing – wherever it is published – an author bio that tells people exactly what you do. Be sure to add to it some credibility-boosters like your years of experience, degrees or certifications, where you’ve taught or spoken, or roles in any professional groups. Having a credible bio will give your words more weight.

6. Build a path to sales. Wherever your pieces appear, be sure that a way to contact you and a call to action are visible on the same page. This could be in your author bio, as a P.S. to the piece, or in a sidebar, footer, or floatbox on the page. Invite readers to join your mailing list, download a bonus, follow you on social media, sign up for your program, or call you about working together.

When you follow the guidelines above, writing quality, content-rich blog posts and articles can become a powerful marketing approach for you. You’ll often find that people who’ve been reading your material for a while will be pre-sold before they contact you, and ready to hire you on the spot. Isn’t that the kind of result we’d like to see from all our marketing?