The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally called Black Friday. It’s called this because merchants all over the country significantly lower prices to bring in customers looking to save money on their holiday shopping. The purpose is for the shops to sell so much merchandise, merchants will be “in the black” as they approach the holiday season.
I worked in a mall during my teen years, and though I haven’t quite erased the Black Friday mall trauma from my mind, for me “Black Friday” represented the bleakness of the day for mall workers. Though it’s been more than 25 years since working in a mall, I can honestly say I haven’t been to mall on Black Friday since those days, and I try to avoid the mall during evenings and weekends throughout the holiday season.
Still, there are lessons to be learned. For example, freelance writing and Black Friday share a few similarities.
1. There are perks for early birds
Many stores participating in Black Friday events open their doors to crowded parking lots between 4:00 and 6:00 in the morning. Ambitious shoppers fill their carts with Christmas list must-haves in order to save money and take home items before they run out. Freelance writering also offers perks for early birds. For example writers who get an early start on their day have the rest of the day to work on personal projects or spend time with family. Moreover, writers who apply early for gigs, might have a better chance of standing out in a potential client’s mind before the flood applications starts to come in.
2. It doesn’t hurt to lower prices once in a while
If you’re having problems drumming up work or if your regular clients aren’t in need of your services, there’s nothing wrong with offering a sale to generate interest. You don’t have to lower your prices for every project, but offering a discount every now and then will entice both new and old customers to come calling. Make sure you have a little not so fine print to ensure clients are aware sale prices are only a temporary thing.
3. Sometimes it’s more about the event
There are always people who show up for Black Friday shopping events simply because it’s an event. They don’t care about the sale or the goods, they only want to say they are there. Your loyal readers will always be there for you. If there’s a book signing or interview, your loyal readers will offer support. As many well-known authors can attest, they’ll even invest in your worst endeavors, simply to show support.
4. It’s all in the marketing
Many times Black Friday bargains aren’t really great bargains at all. However, they’re advertised as such. A good marketing person can sell anything. It’s important for freelancers to market themselves well also. We’re selling ourselves. Our name is our brand and our writing is our product. It’s up to us to give the best representation of that brand possible. 50% of writing is selling and bringing in new clients. A good marketer can sell ice cubes to people in cold places.
5. People will pay more money for convenience
While millions of people are braving the malls and shops today, millions more will be enjoying time with their family. They’ll also be enjoying time with their family for the next month. Like me, they may even stay away from the malls during weekends or when people generally aren’t working. Many don’t mind missing sales or paying extra shipping costs to shop online. They do so because the convenience is more important to them than the sale. Most clients like the convenience factor also and don’t mind paying for stuff they can’t do themselves. For example, if they’re paying you to blog, they may be willing to pay more if you offer to moderate comments and promote the blog using social media tools. Package deals enable you to expand your horizons and spread your name to more people and places.
What are some similarities you see between freelance writing and Black Friday?
I’d like to offer a correction: The term Black Friday actually refers to retail merchants going into the black for the year — the idea when the term first developed is that retailers were in the hole until this day of the calendar year. Picked this up when writing one of several articles about this day.
Right, as always, Philip. I thought I added that in up above but obviously didn’t. I was then going to remark about how it was a black day for me as a mall worker. Heh. I’m going to tweak but leave your remarks here so to give credit where it’s due.
I’m not always right, this is just something I’ve written about…don’t care about credit in this case either, just wanted to mention it.
Anne Wayman says
Hi Deb, fortunately my brief stints at retail didn’t happen in a mall nor over black Friday… I sure learned to hold clerks in high esteem ’cause I can’t do it.
Seems like there’s more than one reason it’s called black Friday… an article I read said cops in Philadelphia named it that because of traffic jams.
Urban myths abound.
I lean heavily on #1 when I’m looking for new gigs.
I once worked 12 hours of black friday at an outlet mall when I was 17. 🙂 Picture busses and busses of elderly shoppers being dropped off by tour companies. Yup. I like sitting on my bum using just my digits.
There’s another way freelance careers are like Black Friday–sometimes, you just wind up with more work than you can easily handle and wind up working ’round the clock, in a mad rush, to get it all done. I’ve worked Black Fridays in retail and managed multiple deadlines in different niche markets… dollar for dollar, retail is MUCH harder. But that doesn’t mean deadline times are a piece of cake either.
Similarly, those dreary days in January when stores are a ghost town — freelancers have those sometimes, too. Where stores take advantage of the downtime to do inventory and merchandise, freelancers can use the time to revamp their marketing plan, spruce up their website, and reach out to contacts they don’t get enough time to talk with when they’re busy.
of course, a good freelance will manage their work flow so the dead times aren’t that dead, and the busy times are manageable. But, life happens!