Be clear about what you do as a freelance writer, and be careful about going beyond that description.
Over the course of the last two or three weeks, I've had several people approach me about performing social media tasks. While I try to submit most of the posts I write to social media sites, I am no social media expert. And I don't do that sort of thing. (And, honestly, I outsource the social media submissions.)
I'm a freelance writer. I stick to providing content to my clients.
Should You Branch Out?
Over the years, I've branched out into different projects based on my interests and skills. In the past, I've been asked to run a company's weekly Twitter chat or manage Facebook communities. I have also been approached about doing PR work, trying to get mentions in mainstream media for other people.
If you're a freelance writer, and some of these opportunities present themselves, it might make sense to branch out a little. I, however, am not interested in branching out to social media engagement or management. There have been times in the past that I have tried some of these tasks, and I didn't enjoy them. As a result, I learned quickly to just say no to being a social media expert, a search engine optimization expert, or a PR expert.
Plus, I'm not sure that I was very good at those other tasks.
What I have done, however, has been interesting. Some tasks I am paid for include:
- Spokesperson work for national companies and organizations
- Workshops on personal finance topics
- Podcasting hosting and management
- Consulting for app development
- Production of newsletter content
- Course content
Figure out if there's something else you want to do, and consider seeing if you can get paid for it.
Be Upfront about What You Do as a Freelance Writer (or Other Professional)
One of the best things you can do as a freelance writer (or any freelance professional) is to be upfront about what you do. I know I'm pretty decent as a freelance writer and professional blogger. I am confident that I can deliver solid content. However, I am less confident about my abilities to help clients rise in the search engine rankings or get a link from a major media website.
As a result, I'm very up front about what I do.
I'm a freelance writer. I'm a professional podcaster. I can provide quotes and context on your behalf. I can create course content for you.
Offering Value vs. Scope Creep
If you have a keyword that you want to use, I'll work it in naturally. But I'm not providing you with SEO services. I'm providing you with content. If you want it promoted heavily or try to get someone else to notice it, that's up to you because I don't do that.
Sometimes it's tempting for me to try another way to do things. However, after my last efforts to place guest posts for a client fell flat on its face (I hate doing that, too), I returned to my policy of insisting that the client find a host for the guest post. I'll write the guest post and even include whatever link you want, but you must find a place for it. That whole experience drove home to me, yet again, that I am a content creator.
Really look at your freelance business, and consider what you want it to look like and what you want to do. For some, coordinating social media efforts or working on PR projects can be a big break. If you want to expand your services to include those things, go for it. However, you must be clear on what you do and who you are. Figure that out, and let others know what you do. Everyone will be happier in a professional relationship, and your potential clients will know exactly what to expect from you.