If you’re like me, every single article you write is a learning experience.
Especially for the large-scale feature-style articles, you put the time in, do the research, conduct the interviews, compile and curate your notes, all before you even manage to put pen to paper. And the entire time, you’re learning.
Maybe it’s a subject you’re totally passionate about. Or, maybe it’s something you’ve never even considered before you got the assignment to write about it. But at this point, you’re a genuine expert.
Now you have two choices: 1) You can hand in your article and move on to the next learning experience without a second glance, or 2) you can capitalize on all that effort and new-found expertise while putting a few extra dollars in your pocket and a few extra credits on your bio.
As a freelance writer smart and ambitious enough to be reading this blog, I’m pretty confident you’re a #2 kind of person.
As an expert in the subject matter at hand, why not make the opportunity to share your knowledge with people who want to hear about it?
Every community has opportunities available for people to speak on various subjects. If your article was for a local market, you probably have the appropriate venues right at your fingertips already. Contact the folks you interviewed, the websites you already visited, and the local organizations those folks are connected to. Even if you don’t have a list of names already in hand, though, the answers are only a Google search away.
Locate local groups, organizations, corporations or non-profits who have some connection to the topic you’ve just written about. Review their website and see if and when they’re meeting, holding an event, or planning a program of some kind. Then, contact the folks in charge and offer your services as a speaker for their function.
Even if they’re not planning anything right now, contact them and offer to develop a speech on the subject at their discretion. Maybe you’ll spur them on to putting an event together.
Another option would be to serve as moderator for a panel discussion or debate on the topic. This could allow some experts from the company or group you’re contacting to join the fun, and offer an added benefit for them to take you up on it.
But I’m speaking in generalities right now. Let’s bring it down to a real-life example of how this really works.
How Does it Really Work?
You’ve just completed a 3000-word feature article about the effects of fracking (a controversial method for harvesting natural gas) for a regional environmental quarterly we’ll call the Smith Valley Greenspace magazine. In the course of researching and writing the article, you’ve learned more about the natural gas industry — and the love/hate relationship it enjoys with environmentalists — than you ever expected to know.
You submit your article to rave reviews. It’s going to print in about four months. In the meantime, you start doing some Google searches for local environmental organizations that may be hosting fundraisers, educational events or seminars in the area. Sure enough, you find three different groups that have events planned over the next six months.
You contact them and let them know you’re a published writer with a feature article coming out soon in the Smith Valley Greenspace quarterly about fracking. One of them is especially impressed, because they happen to subscribe to the SVGQ. But all of them keep listening because that’s an impressive enough fact to warrant their attention.
You then let them know you’re looking forward to their upcoming event, and you get a feel for what kinds of subjects they’re planning to cover. Finally, you make your pitch: “I’d like to speak at your event. I have access to some of the most up-to-date information and sources on fracking, and I think your audience would love to hear about it.”
One of the three already has Al Gore lined up to speak, so you missed it by that much. But two of them are thrilled to have an expert available to speak on such a timely topic, and they ask you what they can do to help.
Why This Makes You More Money
This kind of public speaking isn’t going to earn you big bucks on its own. Generally, if a speaker makes anything for giving the speech or moderating the panel, it’s a small honorarium.
But, far more importantly, speaking on your subject offers you multiple opportunities to market yourself as an expert:
- Record the speech in audio and video formats and offer them in whole or in parts via YouTube, your website, your blog, or via podcast.
- Obtain testimonials from the event organizers and/or attendees and post them on your site or add them to your media kit.
- Have the speech transcribed and post it as an article on your site and/or as a sample to mail out.
- Hand out a brief bio with contact information at your speech to allow attendees to get a hold of you later.
- Tack “professional speaker” on your bio’s skill list.
- Be creative and make the moment work for you!
In all these ways, you’re building a platform that consistently brings you up in the minds of others as an expert on this subject.
Now, we all know you were already planning to re-purpose a lot of that research material from the original article into a dozen other related articles for non-competing publications across the nation. How much better do you think your chances of seeing those queries approved will be, now that you’re a recognized expert on the subject, with the audio, video, text and testimonial evidence to prove it?
That’s how this tactic ends up making you more money as a writer: by vastly improving your chances of turning every article into a dozen paying gigs while simultaneously improving your professional reputation in the process.
If you, like many of us, have books in your future, any agent worth their salt is going to tell you to build a platform before pitching a publisher. Sure enough, speaking — even on the small, local level — offers a fantastic opportunity to do just that as well!
So, don’t just sit there! If you’re currently working on a big, meaty article, keep your eyes peeled for speaking opportunities you can exploit. And if you’re not, start trolling your clip file for some huge learning experiences from your past and get yourself out there talking about it!
Justin P Lambert is a freelance content marketing specialist and copywriter with room in his schedule to make your blog sound just as fantastic as this one! Take a glance at the site or hook up on LinkedIn to get acquainted!