Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Need Freelance Writing Ideas? Think Local—It’s NOT just for Food!

by Edie Melson

So often writers look for opportunities far from home. But truthfully some of the best paying gigs and clients may be just around the block from where you live. Today I want to challenge you to think local—it's not just for food!

Where to Start
Copywriting is the easiest thing to do locally, and it’s a great way to earn money as a freelance writer. It may sound a little intimidating, but it’s great fun.

What is copywriting?
The dictionary defines a copywriter as one who “writes copy for advertising.” The field has gone on to include many aspects of business writing, especially those where the company interfaces with the client or consumer.

At first glance, this may seem like a very small niche for writers. Quite the contrary—it’s a huge opportunity. This area of writing continues to explode, particularly in the arena of the Internet. Let me introduce you to a small business owner and I think you'll see what I mean. We'll call him Joe, and he's a plumber.

He's a smart business owner and named his business, ABC Plumbing. He chose carefully because with that name, he had a good chance of being the first listing in the directory under plumbers. That was ten years ago and that ad in the telephone directory kept him supplied with customers while it made him visible around the community. But as time went by, fewer people looked at the Yellow Pages when they needed a plumber. Instead they looked online.

Well Joe is a with-it sort of guy, and he had a website built. It wasn't fancy, but it did the job, just like the old ad in the directory. Actually the two looked a lot alike. But Joe began to see his traffic and customer base diminish. This was due to the fact that when someone searched on the Internet for a plumber in his area, his website didn't come up first. In fact, it didn't come up until page three of the search.

He did some research and found that he needed to add some things to his site to come up higher in the search engine. He came face-to-face with the new acronym SEO. Search Engine Optimization became his key to getting the name out about his business. So he started a blog and began tweaking the information on his site. But all this began to eat into the time he spent running a business.

At this point, the light bulb came on. Joe realized he was a plumber, not a writer. And this is where we come in. We can provide valuable services to businesses small and large. We can do what we do best—write—while allowing them to get on with business.

So how do you find business owners like Joe, who could use your help?

Local Connections
By association—look for natural pairing between you and potential clients, from hobbies to business connections.

Think about what hobbies or business experience you have? What are your hobbies? Are you a gardener—maybe you already have a relationship with a local nursery. Start there. What about former businesses. Have you worked as a realtor? Then approach brokers to write content helpful to their customers.

By location—this could be your small town, neighborhood business district, state or region. You can attack this several ways, first by targeting a physical section of your town or city. Or second, by choosing industry to concentrate on, such as childcare or the medical professional.

You can also go one step further, literally. Have some fliers printed up and walk a city block in your local business district. Talk to the business owners; let them put a name with a face. In both circumstances, even if the contact doesn’t pan out immediately, you’ll find that business owners often keep paperwork with financial information on it. A flier you gave out six months ago may generate a new client tomorrow.

Other Think Local ideas
Copywriting isn’t the only local writing you can do. You can also look for places to publish your articles close to home. Here are some ideas:
  • The free magazines and newspapers you find outside local businesses.
  • Your local newspaper. Look for small town papers and specialty inserts in the large city papers.
  • Newsletters for local associations, from homeowners to garden clubs.

What about you? What success have you had with writing locally?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!




  1. Hi Edie ~ God opened the door over two years ago for me to write a monthly column in a local women's magazine. It wasn't necessarily what I envisioned for a column. I wanted to write devotions, but the editor asked me to start with a recipe and write corresponding spiritual thoughts. Wow, it's gone extremely well! It's been a fabulous way to get more experience and get my name out to the public. It doesn't pay, yet I consider it a free marketing opportunity. Most importantly, I've been able to reach over 65,000 readers in seven local counties for Christ. God is so good!

    1. Emily, that's great! Thanks for sharing you experiences. It's so encouraging! Blessings, E

  2. So a copywriter writes ads, is that right?

    1. Ellen, not just add. They can write letters, blog posts, product descriptions for catelogues, anything to do with dealing with customers. Blessings, E