My mama didn’t know the first thing about marketing…or freelance writing. But she fulfilled her obligation to teach me one unvarnished truth that all southern mamas bequeath to their daughters: “If you have to tell people you’re a lady, you’re not.”

Translation: Don’t brag about things that are just the bare minimum. Southern girls are supposed to be charming and mannerly, and freelance writers are supposed to have a command of the basics. If you market yourself on things that are just the price of entry, people are going to conclude that that’s all you’ve got. I’ve seen far too many freelance writers telling everybody how ladylike they are, marketing themselves on things like:

  • Meeting deadlines
  • Running spell check
  • Not plagiarizing
  • Using proper grammar and punctuation

Let’s think about that for a minute. By bragging about accomplishing the basics, you’re implying that not doing those things is acceptable. That you think you’re special for doing them. And that suggests that you set the bar incredibly low.

How about, instead, marketing yourself on the things that differentiate you from the pack? For me, those things include:

  • Having the research skills to write on any topic
  • Asking questions like “What do you want people to do/think/feel after they read this?”, “Why is that important?”, and “What about X?” to help the client clarify his goals.
  • Adding new insights rather than just reporting facts
  • Writing so that the client says, “Oh…that’s what I was trying to say!”

Oh…and don’t market yourself on price unless you want to be seen as the Wal-Mart/dollar store of freelance writers. Yes, that will appeal to a certain market, but it’s a market that’s never going to pay more than content-mill prices. If you want to earn more than the bare minimum, you have to figure out how to deliver more than the bare minimum. It’s always, always about adding value.

In other words, if you’re really a lady, you don’t have to scream it from the rooftops. Your work will speak for itself.

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