One question freelance writers have is where to find clients. The good news is that potential clients are everywhere. Once you get in the mindset that everyone you meet could be a potential client, you will start to see opportunities for your business that didn’t exist before. Here are some places where you can find freelance work:
Creating an EBook is becoming more and more popular amongst small businesses—and for good reason. According to researchers, EBook sales grew 177 percent last year. This number is only expected to rise and our technology continues to improve, and even some of the old hardcopy book-lovers are realizing that’s it incredibly easy to have an electronic library where you can store and even checkout new reads from a library.
Another shocking statistic:
76% of companies do *not* have any form of conversion optimization… and 48% believe they have zero control over conversion.
I think that is ridiculous.
Conversions are one of the few things you do control. Unlike most marketing efforts – which require third-party sites like Google or Twitter – conversion exists on your site, which puts you in 100% control of your destiny.
But can you improve conversions? Absolutely.
Here’s how… [Read more…]
In a tough economy with so many people out of work, finding a job can be a mind numbing process, and finding a freelance writing job is no different. The problem, though, does not lay in the job finding part; any website you browse will list hundreds of open positions. These common websites are flooded daily with over-qualified applicants that are hired before you even click the posting. Because of this, you may need to consider finding an alternative way to job search and in this job market. The key: networking.
If you are or want to be a freelance writer, you may already be a part of the social networking site, LinkedIn. As a member of this site you can link with old co-workers, high-school and college buddies, and people in your field that you may not even know yet. Needless to say, this is a haven for networking. Intricacies of the site can help you connect with CEO’s of businesses and hiring managers. Using this network as a tool for job searching is your key to fending off the job thieves and getting ahead in the application process.
There is perhaps no other topic in the freelance writing world that generates more controversy than the concept of writers writing for free. Bring it up and lines in invisible sand are drawn, commenting spikes and in the case of Harlan Ellison, a few F-bombs are dropped.
It’s understandable. Shady publishers and editors prey on vunerable writers who want to see their names in print. Writers are constantly burned by “write for free now and earn later” promises in which “later” never comes.
However, in the angry buzz of the debate something gets lost. Choice and education. There will always be writers who consider using their talent without traditional compensation. Instead of helping writers make informed decisions, we as a community often take the abstinence-only approach – IT’S WRONG, NEVER DO IT.
Is it really free?
The first step to weighing a work-for-free option is to look at whether the project has any compensation opportunities. Writers work in exchange for items and services all the time. A little web content work in exchange for a new website. A little PR work in exchange for lessons from a yoga studio.
Just be sure that you follow three simple rules when bartering services:
- Set clear boundaries. Define the services you will provide and the services or products you expect in return. This prevents misunderstandings and keeps either party from taking advantage of the “freebie” situation.
- Determine cost. It should be expected that your standard rates are used for services you provide.
- Put it in writing. This is not only helpful for tax and business record purposes, it makes the transaction official and binding.
Is it for the greater good?
Wielding a hammer may not be some people’s idea of how they want to volunteer, but wielding a keyboard may feel just right. Providing writing services to help a charity or organization is a good thing. Sweating over a keyboard or a hot stove both take time and effort and each can be a great help to someone in need.
Are you prepared for the lack of payoff?
Writing for exposure. *Sigh* That’s a tricky one. Certain publications swear by it, but when their blog only reaches 12 people and four of those are family members, the “exposure” doesn’t help a writer one bit. Then you have the Huffington Post model: huge reach and definite opportunities for exposure. However, when the publication makes a deal for a large sum of money, whether it’s for advertising or through the sale of the blog, there will be writers who feel slighted when left out of the monetary windfall.
There is, of course, the possibility that exposure may never come. Before you get into an “exposure” deal,
- Use metrics to define success. How many blog hits, how many subsequent work requests, book sales, etc.
- Recognize and get comfortable with not being able to eat, spend or pay bills with exposure. Exposure has to translate into dollars through other avenues to be successful.
- Have a time limit and exit strategy. Give the exposure enough time to produce results, but have an end date in place if it doesn’t show signs of panning out.
Can you afford to do it?
Whether working in exchange for goods and services, as a volunteer or for “exposure,” carefully weigh the costs of the commitment. There are time costs, including time away from other business-growing opportunities, i.e. querying, working on gigs for other clients, etc. There are also actual costs: electricity, Internet, the standard writing rate… This is one of those tough choices that a writer has to make from a business perspective, especially if the project will be ongoing.
Most of the time I’m against writing for free. It distracts writers from doing things that can both further their careers and enable them to pay bills. Writing for experience can be accomplished while making money – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There are, however, situations in which free can work out for writers though they are not as common as “job” listings would have you believe. It’s a personal, business decision that should be made with research and with realistic expectations.
Have you written for “free?” Why or why not? What other things should writers consider when weighing a non-traditional pay option?
I’m not opposed to finding work via advertisements or “help wanted” listings. I’ve never been a fan of the bid boards, but I know they work for some people. I know that countless writers benefit from the job listings here at FWJ.
However, I don’t spend a lot of time tossing my hat into the ring with hundreds of other applicants for advertised writing positions. I’ll do it occasionally when a particular call for a writer really appeals to me, but it’s not my preferred way of generating business.
I know there are plenty of writers out there who would really like to be busier, so I thought I’d talk about an approach that has worked for me. It’s not revolutionary or anything, but it doesn’t seem to get as much attention as other strategies. I like creating my own gigs.
Here’s the plan, in its simplest form:
- Find someone who has a great product or idea–something that’s right in your wheelhouse or in which you see remarkable potential.
- Think about how your skills could help them.
- Pitch them.
Example One: Occasionally, I’ll watch press releases roll along the river of a popular distribution site’s RSS feed. I’ll look for releases that involve interesting topics or ideas. I’ll pay close attention to those that evidence a need for a much better copywriter. The contact information is right there on the release. The pitch is simple in terms of offering them more effective releases and it doesn’t take long to investigate their web presence and to see what else they might need.
Example Two: Have you ever been searching for something that you wanted or needed and then discovered a real diamond in the rough of a website? Of course, you have. When I find these sites, I will follow up with the owners, telling them how we might be able to work together to improve their business.
I know. It’s pretty simple.
But here’s the interesting thing… It works.
You might think that the percentage of contacts that turn into business would be minimal. That’s not the case. The conversion numbers are surprisingly good. I’m relatively sure that my contact/conversion rate in these situations is higher than most people’s success rate when responding to “writers wanted” ads.
I believe that one reason writers aren’t in higher demand is our collective shortcoming in marketing our gifts and their value. We have a tendency to wait until people see a need for us when we should be telling them why we’re so damned valuable. When you’re rainmaking, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
The trick, of course, is the pitch. You need to be able to show value to the prospective client. You need to demonstrate an understanding of what they seem to be trying to accomplish as well as a vision for what they should be trying to accomplish. You need to make yourself accessible and to let them know that you’re friendly, helpful and something other than a moneysucking mercenary with a keyboard.
I generally make contact with an email. I’ll follow up with a phone call. It’s not a chore. It’s fun. After all, I’m not hoping to find an ad for a job that would be tolerable. I’m isolating opportunities that interest and excite me.
Give it a shot. Take some time to find someone who isn’t necessarily looking for you but who could really use your skills. Pitch ’em. See what happens. You might be surprised.
Time for another lesson in copywriting! Today, you’ll learn a critical element of every copywriting project you take on that you should memorize and never forget — when it comes to making purchase decisions, consumers care about themselves.
When I teach copywriting to business owners, I always start off this section of the lesson with a sentence that quickly catches their attention, “No one cares about you.” They don’t like to hear this news from me, but if they can’t understand it, their marketing messages will fail to deliver the results they want and need.
So how does this apply to the copy that you write for clients (or to market your own freelance writing business)?
If you missed them, follow the links to read earlier parts of the Lessons in Copywriting series:
Part 3 of Lessons in Copywriting teaches you how to make sure the marketing copy you write is succinct using a tool I call the Red Pen Rule, which I discuss in detail in my book, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps.
Let’s take a step back first.
In Part 1 of Lessons in Copywriting, you learned the first tenet of marketing, which is essential for you to understand before you can begin to craft effective marketing messages. In Part 2, you learn the seven steps of advertising success, which you need to understand in order to determine the types of messages that will help you deliver the required results for a business.
Think of it this way — each marketing piece that a business develops has a purpose. Whether the goal is to raise awareness of a new product or encourage repeat purchases, there is a goal in mind before any marketing messages are crafted to motivate an audience to take specific actions.
Your query – perfection – and you got the gig. Your email to the leading big wig on the subject – golden – he/she said yes. Your reaction – PANIC!
Deep down, you never really thought Professor Large Brain would glance at your email or return your call. You were perfectly happy with Professor Adequate Brain who you knew would jump at the chance to chime in our your piece. Now you have all that brain to yourself for at least an hour. Now what?
High Five Yourself.
Let’s get it out the way now, go ahead and look at yourself in the mirror and wink. It’s okay. We all do it. It’s an accomplishment when you land any source and some sources, well, you just have to strut for a minute. Take a deep breath and remember this feeling for the next time a source refuses to acknowledge your existence.
It’s normal to feel a little nervous before interviewing a source, but keeping your emotions in check is essential to doing your best. Leave the awe and self-doubt at home. You’ve got a job to do – get the info – and besides most interviewees are more nervous than the writer. Another perk? Most seasoned sources like talking about themselves or hearing themselves talk which makes it easier on you. Just remember to reign them in from time to time!
Do the prep work.
Taking time to prepare and research for the interview will help the interview flow smoothly. When interviewing someone who is often a source, it takes a bit of research to come up with questions that haven’t been asked a million times. It also takes digging to find the real facts about the person instead of the widely reported, but often incorrect tidbits of legend.
Treat it the same.
Yes, it’s awesome to interview the President of the United States – or so I hear – and it’s just as awesome to interview your local fire fighter or elected official because no one has to talk with you! Every writer has a groove they like to get into before, during and after an interview. Stick with what works. Do the pre-interview checklist: batteries, paper, pen, back-ups. Take notes just the way you always do. This might not be the right time to try out a new digital recorder.
Landing a big source is a wonderful accomplishment. Being able to keep your head before, during and after is what separates the pros from the newbies.