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.

Trust building elements

In the 30+ 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 publish regularly — blogging, a newsletter, writing articles or guest blog posts that you inform your contacts about, ebooks, excerpts or updates from a book you wrote, 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 written content more generic. That will reduce its usefulness, and therefore won’t serve as a trust builder.

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 provide information that might better appear on a sales page.

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. If you’ve written a book, offer folks a way to sample it.

4. Promote what you’ve written.
To get maximum value out of each piece you write, promote 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 promote an item for months or even years. Notify your mailing list when a new 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 promote your writing 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 promoting. 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 clients.

C.J. Hayden, MCC, CPCC, is the author of the bestseller Get Clients Now! A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals, Consultants, and Coaches, She's a business coach and writing mentor to self-employed professionals. Since 1992, C.J. has been helping her clients and readers survive and thrive. C.J. is the author of five other business how-to-books, and has taught marketing at Mills College and John F. Kennedy University. Find out more about C.J.'s books and courses or attend one of her upcoming programs.

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